Behind the Scenes: Exhibit Planning

This post details the planning for and progress on an exhibit scheduled for March 2018 in Hamilton Library.  The exhibit will commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the formation of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and will feature items from many of the collections here in the University Archives and Manuscripts Department that contain materials related to the famed unit.

The exhibit will have two parts, with the main portion upstairs in the Archives’ Moir Reading Room and a highlight / teaser display in the Library’s main lobby.

A view of the Moir reading room showing tables and exhibit cases.

Moir reading room view showing most of the exhibit cases.

I started initial brainstorming this exhibit a few of months ago, and proceeded on to more-focused project planning designed to ensure that everything will get completed in time.

Basic Gantt chart depicting planning for the 442nd RCT exhibit.

Including a very basic Gantt chart!

Exhibits at Hamilton are coordinated by the Library’s Exhibits Committee, which oversees scheduling and sets the policies all internal and external exhibit applicants must follow in order to put on displays in the building.  In the exhibit application form I described what I planned to feature where.

The main portion–up in the Moir Reading Room–will have six sections:

  1. Before The 442nd – The HTG, VVV, and the 100th Battalion  (4-7 items)
  2. The 442nd in Training on the Mainland  (4-7 items)
  3. The 442nd in Europe: Italy and France  (4-7 items)
  4. The 442nd in Europe: The 522nd Field Artillery Battalion at Dachau  (3-6 items)
  5. Beyond the 442nd: MIS & CIC Nisei in the Pacific Theater  (1-3 items)
  6. After the War: The 442nd in Memory and Culture  (6-10 items)

In addition to individually-captioned items, each of these six sections will feature an introductory label contextualizing those items.  Also, a somewhat longer label will introduce the exhibit as a whole.  In the downstairs lobby, meanwhile, two flat cases and additional signage will draw attention to the exhibit and direct visitors to see more in the Moir Reading Room.  (The lobby cases themselves will include a small introductory text and 6 captioned artifacts, one for each of the sections that will be explored in more depth upstairs.)

Since submitting my application and getting it approved, I have started going through the collections to come up with candidate documents/photos/artifacts for each section.  I am also going back to inventories and descriptions of past exhibits featuring JAVC materials in order to prevent this exhibit from looking too much like those.

Image of 442nd memorabilia, including a ‘Go For Broke’ CD, framed 'Journey of Heroes' comic panel, copy of ‘Unlikely Liberators’ with one of the oral history interview tapes used in the book, and a souvenir ‘Go For Broke’ pill cutter case

Items under consideration for the ‘442nd in Memory & Culture’ section: signed Jake Shimabukuro ‘Go For Broke’ CD, framed Damon Wong/Stacy Hayashi ‘Journey of Heroes’ comic panel, copy of Masayo Duus’s book ‘Unlikely Liberators’ with one of the oral history interview tapes she used as sources in the book, and a souvenir ‘Go For Broke’ pill cutter case.

Throughout the remainder of November I will be refining these selections, and expect to have a final item list sometime next month.  At that time I will start working on layout—consulting with the Library’s Preservation Department on any work that needs to be done to stabilize the items for display—and publicity, including planning for an opening event at the beginning of March.

Photo of 442nd Chaplain Hiro Higuchi reading a list of the unit's casualties at a memorial on June 26, 1944.

From back of print: 5th Army, Cecina Area, Italy: Protestant Chaplain Hiro Higuchi, Waipahu, Oahu, Hawaii, reads the names of the roll, each name represented by a star on the banner by which he stands. These 72 men represent the deaths in the 2nd Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, suffered since this all Japanese American regiment went into action in Italy, June 26, 1944.

There’s plenty more to do before March, and I look forward to posting one or two updates as the project progresses!

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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

Moir Reading Room Interim Hours

Due to staffing shortages during the holidays the Moir Reading Room will be open by appointment only December 24 and December 28-31. Normal reference hours (10 AM-4 PM) will be held December 22 and 23. To make an appointment send an email to archives@hawaii.edu or call (808) 956-6047.

Happy Holidays from the University Archives & Manuscripts Staff!

Aloha Dainan!

Dainan's Speech

Dainan had just a few words to say Friday… [Photograph Courtesy of Elva Young]

On Friday we said farewell to Dainan Skeem, our Archivist for Manuscripts, who is going to be starting a new position as the 21st Century Mormon and Western Manuscripts Curator at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. We wish him all the best in the next phase of his career and are thankful for his four dedicated years in the University Archives and Manuscripts Department.

We will miss you Dainan-see you at SAA!

New Romanzo Adams Social Research Laboratory Database

With contribution from the Hawai’i Council for the Humanities and the staff and researchers of the Archives and Manuscripts Department there is a new online database dedicated to the RASRL (Romanzo Adams Social Research Laboratory) Collection. This is an exciting opportunity for users to search by topic through the many papers in the collection. New ones will constantly be added to the database, providing access to a treasure trove of student research papers covering over fifty years (1920s – 1970s) of personal observations of family, community and workplace relations throughout Hawaii.

The database delivers a wide range of  keywords one can utilize to search the topics discussed in the papers, all related to intimate stories that retell the diverse history of communities found in the Hawaiian islands. The professors of the Sociology Department at the University of Hawaii asked students to look at the world around them and to examine the changes taking place through the lens of sociology. The students went out into the field as interviewers and observers, and their fresh and firsthand perspectives provide details about life – social, on-the-ground history. Race relations, urbanization, autobiographies and generational change are topics that were often discussed in the papers.

Here are just a few examples of subject terms used:

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Through….informal get-togethers people began to realize that they agreed on a lot of things and the other person was a very nice neighbor. Common needs, common sufferings, and similar worries tended to knit these people closer together and made a primary group out of the members of the neighborhood. 
(Hatsune Koto “The Neighborhood”)

Tips to dig into the RASRL database:

  • Browse the subject terms to get a better idea of what topics are being discussed in the papers.
  • Papers have not been scanned but we welcome you to see them in the Hamilton Library Moir Reading Room (Tues – Friday 10AM – 4PM) or by appointment.
  • To see a paper send an email with the call no., title or author of item to archives@hawaii.edu.