Esther Newman

Esther Newman grew up in California. After college and a career in marketing and media production for Ohio’s Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, she returned to school to study twentieth century American history. While in graduate school, she became interested in her family’s history which led to research on topics affecting the Japanese Diaspora including internment, migration and assimilation. She is retired but her interest in writing about and supporting organizations related to these subjects continues.

Updated November 2021

identity en ja

Henry and Helen Yasuda: Family Values, Nikkei Values - Part 1

Yamato Damashi translates to “Japanese Spirit.” It’s painted in calligraphy on a scroll that hangs in the home of Henry and Helen Yasuda, a reminder of the Japanese cultural values that have sustained them throughout the years—doing one’s best, putting family first, a commitment to education, and expressing gratitude. The Yasudas are among the longest serving volunteers at the Japanese American National Museum, and have shared their knowledge with visitors since the Museum’s grand opening in 1992. Through JANM and organizations such as Nikkei Parents’…

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culture en

Burt Takeuchi Lauds Heroes With “Valor With Honor”

Their families were in concentration camps. They were designated enemy aliens. Their rights as American citizens were denied. “The government did us a big wrong and we had to prove how wrong they were,” said Frank Shimada. “The only way to prove it was by going to war and laying our life on the line.” Shimada, who had been interned at Heart Mountain, Wyoming is one of more than a dozen members of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team who appear in the documentary, “Valor With Honor” by Burt Takeuchi. The feature-length film, to be screened at JANM on February 5,…

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culture en

Carol Misumi: Piecing Together Sustained Support for JANM

When Carol Misumi laughs, she sounds more like 19 than 91, but this California native was indeed born in 1919. The retired home economics teacher uses her talents in design and sewing to continue her long-time support of the Japanese American National Museum (JANM). Working from her home in Santa Barbara, Carol crafts unique items, such as wall hangings and purses, from vintage Japanese textiles that are sold in the Museum’s store. As Carol talked about her life, laughing easily and often, the unifying threads running through her story were both practical and adventuresome. That sens…

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identity en

Japanese American National Museum Store Online

Virgil Westdale: Farm Boy, Pilot, Soldier, Inventor, Author, and Gentleman

Virgil Westdale’s exceptional life story might never have been published had he not attended a Halloween dance. Unsure of what to wear, the World War II veteran donned his Army uniform of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, nearly sixty years after issue and still a perfect fit. On the dance floor, he met Stephanie Gerdes, who remarked, “it’s not really a costume, is it?” After many more questions spanning two years, the two collaborated on Westdale’s autobiography, Blue Skies and Thunder: Farm Boy, Pilot, Inventor, TSA Officer, and WWII Soldier of the 442nd Regime…

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war en

Yoshitaro Amano, Canal Zone Resident and Prisoner #203 - Part 7

Part 6 >>Amano and the others stepped off the train at Pennsylvania Station on June 16. Guards escorted the group across the street to the Pennsylvania Hotel, onto a freight elevator and up to the fourth floor. They joined “about thirty other people quartered in rooms close to us. Most of them looked like they had been living in New York. Among them were four or five Japanese ladies and, considering the circumstances, it was a very pleasant surprise to see them.” The pleasantries ended abruptly with a body and possession search: This time, the F.B.I. was involved along with…

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