Linda's Orchard

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Tag: japanese american genealogy

Our Records Are At Risk!

By now you’ve likely seen the flurry of information about USCIS. Our records are at risk! RecordsNotRevenue is a grass roots campaign trying to stop the potential 492% increase at USCIS. If the fee hike passes, our records will be virtually inaccessible due to cost. These include A-files, C-files, Registry files, Visa files, and Alien Registration forms. And if these records are inaccessible, what’s next? 

For anyone researching late 19th and 20th century immigrants, this is a HUGE roadblock. This impacts all of you researching Asians (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indian, etc.) who immigrated during this time frame, Italian Americans seeking dual citizenship, Jewish Americans, Mexican Americans, War Brides, immigrants who were interned during WWII (Japanese, Germans, Italians), and others.

This is personal for me. My husband’s immigrant grandfather was incarcerated during WWII at Tuna Canyon, Lorsdburg New Mexico, Santa Fe New Mexico, and Crystal City Texas. His A-file was hundreds of pages long. Fortunately, I ordered his A-file a number of years ago. Last January, I had the opportunity to speak with Marian Smith. She advised me that my husband also had an A-file! What a surprise. It cost me $65, but if the fee increase is approved, it would become cost prohibitive.

I urge you to share this information with as many people as you know. Encourage them to post their comments to the USCIS portal NO LATER THAN DECEMBER 16. Please contact your senators and representatives, as well. We’ve only got 10 days left to comment.

The Washington Post published an article on this matter just yesterday, as did the board of directors at the Nichi Bei Foundation (Nichi Bei Weekly 5 December 2019).

The Nichi Bei Foundation, the National Japanese American Historical Society and the California Genealogical Society oppose this price increase.

A Sense of Community

The Kagami and Umemoto Family

Three Generations

Boy and His Grandmother

A Boy and His Grandmother

Labor of Love

Labor of Love

Japanese Cemetery in Colma

Japanese Cemetery in Colma

Spending a Saturday morning pulling weeds and raking leaves doesn’t sound like much fun. That is, unless you happen to be a cemetery-loving genealogist with a passion for all things Japanese.

On 17 May 2014, the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California held its annual clean-up day at the Japanese Cemetery in Colma. More than just a dusty experience, this event brought together a community of more than 200 individuals  from all over the Bay Area: children with their parents and grandparents, boy scouts, single adults and couples. Throughout the morning, people of all ages and abilities smiled and visited while filling dozens of trash bags. We broke briefly for a bento lunch and group photo before returning to the task of honoring the ancestors.

The genealogist in me was pleased to see the gentle care taken while cleaning the ohaka. No harsh chemicals or scrub brushes, just plenty of water and soft rags. Flowers were placed at many of the sites. Rubish and debris were removed. It was fun for me to combine two of my favorite things: genealogy and Nikkei culture. Along the way I made new friends. All in all, I left the experience dirty, exhausted, content, and pleased to be a part of this community.

Gaijin Girl Really Gets Going

September is a great month to begin new things. It’s the beginning of the school year for most children. It’s the beginning of a new season, even though in Northern California it really is just starting to feel like summer, a very hot summer. Why not embark on a genealogical adventure unlike any I’ve ever attempted? I have dabbled in Japanese American genealogy, but now it’s time to get serious.

Recently a woman paid me a compliment on my research and it set the ball rolling. This was not your typical “wow, you’ve done so much but I don’t know the first thing about genealogy” kind of compliment. This came from a woman whose work I have admired for years. She is an accomplished author and speaker. She is an expert in her field. More importantly, she is a certified genealogist, and in my world, that is the benchmark for the best of the best. She actually thought I had a shot at becoming certified. After doing my homework it quickly became clear that I have quite a road still to travel. But I have put together a timeline. If I give myself five years of dedicated research, this just might be possible.

The second situation that really pushed me into taking this path seriously was when a friend and fellow genealogist (albeit a very experienced and well-respected genealogist) asked me to present a workshop in Japanese American genealogy. Seriously? Did she have that much faith in me or was she asking for more than I could deliver? Probably a little of both. However, always up for the challenge, I saw this as the perfect opportunity to hone my research skills and become knowledgable about Japanese American genealogy. After that, I’ll have to cross the Pacific and see what I can accomplish in the Land of the Rising Sun!

First I’ll have to pursue the Japanese American genealogy at my fingertips. This will include formal videotaped interviews with former internees, a road trip following the footsteps of the Okazaki family before, during and after World War II, and finally, a journey to the ancestral home in Tabara village, Japan, where the family members began and ended their odyssey. I can hardly wait to begin. Watch out world. Gaijin Girl is on a roll.