Announcing the James R. Brandon Papers

This post is by Univ. Archives & Manuscripts student assistant Steven Fluckiger, who processed the Brandon Papers.

A new addition to the University Archives, the James R. Brandon Papers contain the research and academic work of Dr. James R. Brandon, former professor of theatre and drama at University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. He is most recognized for his groundbreaking research on kabuki theatre and censorship from the Japanese government and the U.S. military during the twentieth century.

Occupation-era document mentioning censorship of Japanese media

Occupation-era document mentioning censorship of Japanese media.

Born in Minnesota in 1927, Brandon graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1948 and 1949 with his bachelor’s and master’s degrees respectively in theatre and speech. In 1950, he was drafted into the Korean War where he discovered kabuki theatre while stationed in Japan. After the war, he went back to UW to receive his PhD in theatre and television and joined the U.S. Foreign Service and was stationed in Jakarta. Here he frequented many performances which motivated him to write Theatre in Southeast Asia in 1967.

Well versed in Japanese and Indonesian theatre, Brandon accepted a position in UH’s theatre department from 1968 to 2000. During his tenure, he produced twenty-two productions, co-founded the Asian Theatre Journal, served as department chair, and brought international recognition to the department through his scholarship and production of English-language kabuki plays. After retiring, he continued in his scholarship, including accepting a semester-long teaching position at Harvard.

Cover of James Brandon's 2008 book, Kabuki's Forgotten War, 1931-1945

Cover of James Brandon’s 2008 book, Kabuki’s Forgotten War, 1931-1945

Brandon passed away on September 19th, 2015 in Honolulu. At the time of his death, he published twenty books on theatre, kabuki, and censorship, including English translations of kabuki classics. These works also included research about U.S. military censorship of kabuki after World War II as well as Japanese censorship before and during the war. He received several awards and recognitions, including the Imperial Decoration of the Order of the Rising Sun with Gold Rays with Rosette from the Government of Japan, the John D. Rockefeller 3rd Award from the Asian Cultural Council, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Hawaiʻi State Theatre Council, and the UH Regents’ Medal for Outstanding Teaching.

This collection contains much of his research from the 1960s to his passing. A significant portion of this collection is dedicated to his research of censorship: before, during, and after World War II. They are now available for public research and will prove to be fascinating to all, from the beginner researcher to the most seasoned scholar.


Exhibit Announcement – “Loyalty Honored: The 442nd RCT during WWII and as Remembered Since”

View of part of the 'Loyalty Honored' exhibit

442nd RCT uniform jacket with insignia.

As previously mentioned, the past several months have been occupied with planning for an exhibit celebrating the 75th anniversary of the formation of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team (RCT).

Early on in WWII, all Japanese American citizens were classified by the Selective Service as 4-C, ‘enemy aliens’.  Even after that blanket classification was lifted, however, some branches of the U.S. military never accepted more than a handful of Americans of Japanese Ancestry (AJAs).  The  Army was the major exception, eventually fielding tens of thousands of Japanese Americans in various units, including the 442nd RCT.

Using documents and artifacts from the collections of UH-Mānoa Library’s University Archives & Manuscripts Department, ‘Loyalty Honored’ first looks at the 442nd’s wartime service in Europe, with detours along the way to examine AJA units like the 100th Battalion and the Varsity Victory Volunteers that paved the way for the RCT on the one hand and those like the Military Intelligence Service and the AJAs of the Women’s Army Corps that served primarily in the Pacific.  It then touches on a few of the ways the 442nd’s legacy has endured and grown more widely recognized since the veterans returned home, reunited with their comrades, and started sharing their stories.

The exhibit is split into two parts: two cases of highlights in Hamilton Library’s main lobby, and the main exhibit in the University Archives & Manuscripts Department’s Moir Reading Room.  The highlight cases are on view March 5th-30th; while the main exhibit is on view through May during the Archives’ open hours, M-F 9:30-3:30.  (To see the exhibit when the Archives isn’t open—Mondays 9:30-5 and Tuesdays-Fridays 3:30-5—please email to make an appointment.)

Additional exhibit photos:

View of part of the 'Loyalty Honored' exhibit

Downstairs lobby cases with teaser items and sign directing visitors to the main exhibit in Moir Reading Room.

View of part of the 'Loyalty Honored' exhibit

Opening panel of the main portion of the exhibit.

View of part of the 'Loyalty Honored' exhibit

Prior to the 442nd: Sketchbooks by 100th Battalion (Separate) soldier Yoshio Takemoto.

View of part of the 'Loyalty Honored' exhibit

Photos of the 442nd preparing for their send-off in March, 1943.

View of part of the 'Loyalty Honored' exhibit

From history to culture: reuses and re-imaginations of a famous 442nd photo.


Welcome Ashley / Reading Room Reopening!

The University Archives & Manuscripts Department gladly welcomes our newest staff member, Ashley Kajioka!  Ashley has been hired as our Reference Archivist, and thanks to her presence we are able to expand the hours that we are open.

Starting Tuesday, December 6th, our new hours are Tuesday through Friday, 9:30am-3:30pm (with the exception of the last week of the year).   The Moir Reading Room is located on the 5th floor of the Hamilton Library Addition.  (Hamilton Library floor maps here.)

In addition to taking on a good portion of the department’s reference responsibilities, Ashley will also arrange and describe archival materials, starting with the papers of former Bishop Museum Curator and UH Zoology Professor William A. Bryan. Ashley has previously worked with the University Archives & Manuscripts Department as a student assistant, and has also held positions at Sinclair Library and at KCC’s Lama Library.

New Year, New Projects

With classes back in session, the workroom in the University Archives and Manuscripts Department is once again bustling with activity.  We have two students and three volunteers continuing work on ongoing projects, nine volunteers and two students who’ve started new projects in the past month, and two student positions we are in the processing of filling.

The students and volunteers are busy processing new accessions and additions to existing collections, digitizing documents for wider access, helping curate and prepare exhibits, and more.  Among the materials they are working with are the:

  • Senator Daniel K. Inouye papers
  • Papers of former UH theatre professor James R. Brandon
  • WWII Counter Intelligence Corps veteran William T. Hiraoka’s papers
  • Records from the Catholic Action/Peace Education Center
  • Governor Neil Abercrombie papers
  • Records from former the Peace Corps Training Center in Hilo
  • Documents from the National Archives collected by the 442nd Veterans Club
  • University Archives & Manuscripts Department’s own archival records
  • University Photographer Robert Chinn photographs

All in all, it looks like the department is off to a productive start for the 2017/2018 academic year.  We’ll keep you posted on the projects as they progress!

Hello and Welcome!

Hello all, I’m Leilani Dawson, the new Manuscripts Collections Archivist here at Hamilton Library’s Archives and Manuscripts Department.  I have oversight of the collections that don’t fall under the purviews of my colleagues Asako, the Archivist for University records, or Rachael, the Congressional Papers Archivist.   For the most part, this means that I am working with the materials in the Japanese American Veterans Collection, the Hawai’i War Records Depository, and collections related to the struggle for marriage equality in the state. Continue reading