Archives II

by Linda Okazaki

It has been an interesting journey today. Archives II in College Park Maryland is a completely different experience than that at Archives I. The long driveway leading up to the building is lined with lush trees. The building itself is sleek, white and modern. I had already corresponded with an archivist, so I knew the records I sought would be available. Once again, I was armed with a research plan and brought my paperwork to the consultation area, as suggested. The first woman I met was clearly new and immediately referred me to someone else. The second woman did her best to dissuade me from my research. She tried to explain that the records I sought were difficult to locate, that they were restricted, that this process was too complicated. Fortunately a third person stepped in. He was a little rough around the edges and he didn’t really know much about Japanese American records, but he made an effort to help me fill out the form in order to get the records I sought. There were three types of documents I was looking for, the World War II Alien Enemy Detention and Internment Case Files, the World War II Japanese Internee Case Files, and lastly, the Compensation and Reparation Case Files. There were probably other files I could search for, but these were the ones I came for. The Alien Enemy Case Files for Ichimaru Okazaki and Jimmy Osuga were thick, more than fifty pages each. Their history was documented from the day they were initially arrested by the FBI in El Centro, California to their incarceration in a small jail in San Diego, to the inquests and transfer to first Santa Fe and then Lordsburg, New Mexico and their eventual transfer to the INS Camp in Crystal City. At last I had a clear picture of just what happened to these men before they were reunited with their families. The Internee cards arrived next, but these were merely typed cards summarizing the files I had just read.  I then sought the Compensation and Redress Files. An archivist named Gene Morris was able to assist me and he clearly was well versed in Japanese American records. Unfortunately, it was now  past 2:30, the last pull time for records. While I could have returned the next day, I decided that I would order these documents by mail and keep the next day open for research at a different facility. Next stop, the DAR Library!