Michi Kobi Papers
Language of Materials
Michi Kobi (1924-2016) was a Japanese American actress and activist who was forcibly removed from her home and incarcerated at the Central Utah Relocation Center, a concentration camp (euphemistically referred to as an internment camp) in Topaz, Utah during World War II. The Michi Kobi Papers consist of correspondence, newspaper clippings, photographs, and drafts of her writings. Correspondence predominantly relates to Kobi's study of Japanese American history and the incarceration of Japanese Americans, and includes letters to personal friends, scholars, and activists in the Japanese American community. Kobi's writings include multiple drafts of an untitled novel about Japanese Americans in San Francisco, research files on Japanese Americans, and drafts of her unpublished memoir about her experience at the Topaz concentration camp. The collection also contains photographs from Kobi's visit to the Topaz historic site in the 1980s, as well as audio recordings of conferences and meetings on this period of Japanese American incarceration.
Michi Kobi (1924-2016), born Machiko Okamoto, was a Japanese American actress and activist. During World War II, she, along with 110,000 other Nisei, was forcibly removed from her home and incarcerated at the Central Utah Relocation Center, a concentration camp (euphemistically referred to as an internment camp) in Topaz, Utah. She turned to acting while incarcerated and after the war pursued an acting career in New York, appearing in film and Broadway productions. Kobi also worked to draw attention to the injustices of Japanese American incarceration, and in 1980 served as the co-chair of the East Coast Japanese Americans for Redress. The organization advised the federal Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians and helped organize the November 1981 commission hearings in New York City, which concluded that the incarceration was a grave injustice based on racial prejudice and not justified by military necessity. The Commission recommended an official Government apology and narrowly defined redress payments to survivors, which were introduced into legislation as the Civil Liberties Act of 1988.
This collection has not been arranged by an archivist. The materials are arranged in the order in which they were received from the donor.
Scope and Contents
The Michi Kobi Papers consist of correspondence, newspaper clippings, subject files, and drafts of her writings. Correspondence includes personal friends, scholars, and activists in the Japanese American community predominantly focused on Kobi's study of Japanese American history and the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. The bulk of this collection documents Kobi's involvement in the campaign for Reconciliation and Redress for Japanese Americans forcibly removed from their homes and incarcerated during WWII. Materials include Kobi's original writings about the experiences of Japanese Americans in these concentration camps, research files on US policy toward Asian Americans, papers and programs from Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) conferences, audio recordings of meetings and conferences, and notes from public events focused on the redress movement. Kobi's writings include multiple drafts of an untitled novel about Japanese Americans in San Francisco, research files on Japanese Americans, and drafts of her unpublished memoir alternately titled "Utah Pilgrimage" or "Going back to Topaz." The collection also contains photographs from Kobi's 1981 visit to the historic site of Central Utah Relocation Center, the concentration camp (euphemistically referred to as an internment camp) in Topaz, Utah where Kobi was incarcerated. This collection also includes an oral history recording of the Togasaki family.
Conditions Governing Access
Materials are open without restrictions.
Conditions Governing Use
Any rights (including copyright and related rights to publicity and privacy) held by Michi Kobi name, the creator of this collection, were relinquished and transferred to the public domain in 2016 by Margaret (Maggie) S. Nakamura. These materials are governed by a Creative Commons CC0 license, which permits publication and reproduction of materials accompanied by full attribution. See, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/.
Identification of item, date; Michi Kobi Papers; TAM 697; box number; folder number; Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, New York University.
Location of Materials
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Donated by Margaret S. (Maggie) Nakamura in 2016. The accession number associated with these gifts are 2016.061 and 2017.003.
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About this Guide
This collection was received in two accretions in 2016. The first accretion, consisting of two boxes, was rehoused and described at the collection-level. The second accretion consisted of an additional five boxes papers, photographs, and artifcats. Materials were moved into archival housing and at the time of accessioning a file list was created for both accretions. Materials in this collection have not been arranged by an archivist. In 2020, narrative description was edited to more accurately describe the forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II.
Researchers can access previous versions of the finding aid in our GitHub repository at https://github.com/NYULibraries/findingaids_eads/commits/master/tamwag/tam_697.xml.