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.
I am delighted to be here working with these collections; in many ways this is a dream come true for me! My maternal grandmother, Viola Furumoto, was for many years a librarian in the Sci-Tech Department here. (That link goes to a history of the department; my grandmother is featured in the section on the 1970s-1980s, pages 39-48). The entire library ohana has been incredibly welcoming, and it’s been a particular treat to get to know colleagues who worked with my grandmother before she retired.
Furthermore, my maternal grandfather, Howard Furumoto, served in the Military Intelligence Service [M.I.S.] during the Second World War. The M.I.S., along with the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, Hawai’i Territorial Guard, Varsity Victory Volunteers, and 1399th Engineers, was one of the units of Nisei soldiers whose stories and documents form the core of our Japanese American Veterans Collection [JAVC]. Part of my preparations for assuming stewardship of these materials has been to get to know the resources offered by related organizations; it was through these efforts that I discovered a profile of my grandfather and his military service on the Discover Nikkei website, and an oral history of him in the Densho Archives. I’ve also been exploring UH-produced materials related to JAVC, such as our own oral history archives project, the Hawai’i Nisei Story site. As I’ve started delving into our collections, resources such as these have been invaluable sources of both general background knowledge and specific information on the individual veterans represented in our collections.
Finally, I want to close this post with a few images from a new JAVC collection that just came to the Library last month. At only a single folder, the Henry Adams Papers is one of the smallest sub-collections in JAVC. Nevertheless it is particularly relevant now as Memorial Day approaches since Adams–in his role as Entertainment Director of the District Special Services Office at the Army base in Hilo–seems to have had some responsibility for organizing and attending memorial services for soldiers from the area who had been killed in action overseas. The photograph below depicts Adams at such a service, and the letter is a thank-you note addressed to Adams from the parents of one of these servicemen, Yoshitaka Kataoka.