Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community

“Her Name is Shizuko: A Mother’s Influence”

Shared by Aura Newlin, Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation:

I want to share this piece by our friend Karen “Kara” Chittenden, Senior Cataloging Specialist in the Library of Congress’ Prints and Photographs Division:
Kara is the wife of Warren Maruyama (one of the earliest JACSC conveners) and the mother of Hana and Noah Maruyama (creators of Densho’s “Campu” podcast). I was involved in the “series of lucky events” that led to this story about how Satsuki Ina’s mother, Shizuko, came to have her name added to her previously anonymous photo in the Library of Congress collection. From the article/interview:

Kara: Almost 80 years after the photograph was taken, what is it like for you to have your mother now identified in it for the public record?

Satsuki: It’s emotional for me. I feel this closure, like she’s not an anonymous victim of this horrific constitutional crime. It’s an acknowledgement. It’s important. This human being named Shizuko Ina went through a life-changing event that has been so traumatic for her and passed it on to me in ways that have been invisible. The model minority myth has been superimposed on us, and it minimized the damage that the loss of time and loss of dignity caused. Looking back to what she experienced, knowing her name personalizes the story. Mass incarceration and racism is very dehumanizing and when you give a person a name, like “say their name,” it lets people know that this was a real person, this really happened. It makes me want to share what she went through.

In sharing the story via this listserv, I want to draw your attention to the final line:

If you recognize family members or others not identified in pictures, please feel free to contact us through our Ask a Librarian service so that we can update our descriptions.

I suspect that many of our Nisei and Sansei would be able to identify friends, family members, and themselves in the WRA photos catalogued at the Library of Congress. For both healing and legacy, I think it would be a beautiful thing for more people to be named in the permanent record, as Shizuko now is. I encourage folks to peruse the photos and reach out if you recognize anyone:

See a description of the group of photographs Dorothea Lange and Clem Albers took for the War Relocation Authority, including the one of Shizuko Ina discussed in this blog post. You can view the portion that has been digitized from the group.

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