Nina Nobuko Wallace

Nina Nobuko Wallace is the Media and Outreach Manager at Densho. Nina is a yonsei and aspiring J-town auntie based in Seattle, Washington, whose writing focuses on hidden histories and intersections between past and present. In her work at Densho and beyond, she is passionate about personal stories, public history, and empowered communities.

Updated May 2022

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Eugenie Clark Swam with Sharks and Blazed a Path for Women in Science

Famed marine biologist Eugenie Clark, or “Genie” as she was known to friends and family, was born in New York City on May 4, 1922. Her father, Charles Clark, died when she was just two years old, leaving her to be raised by her mother Yumiko. At around nine years old, her mother began dropping her off at the New York Aquarium while she’d work at a newspaper stand on Saturday mornings. This weekly routine—along with the central role of the sea in the Japanese culture passed down from her mother and stepfather—sparked an early interest in the ocean and the animals …

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Issei Mothers Played an Important—and Largely Forgotten—Role in the Japanese American Draft Resistance Movement

The resistance of nearly 300 young men who refused to be drafted into the U.S. military out of U.S. concentration camps has become a prominent part of the Japanese American WWII incarceration story. Maligned as disloyal troublemakers for decades after the war, members of the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee and other draft resisters are rightfully recognized as civil rights heroes today. But there is an equally inspiring — and largely forgotten — story about hundreds of Issei mothers who also protested the draft from within the camps. Contrary to commonly-held stereotypes …

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It Was My First Grown-Up Feeling of Responsibility: Student Views of Life in a Japanese American Concentration Camp

We’re fortunate today to have access to hundreds of testimonies from Nisei elders who were incarcerated as children during WWII. But the perspective captured in these oral histories is that of an adult looking back on decades-old memories, rather than a child or teen describing contemporaneous experiences. The journals and writing assignments they left behind, however — composed while they were students in concentration camp schools — offer a unique glimpse at how Japanese American youth thought and felt about their life behind barbed wire. Minidoka teacher Helen Amerman ta…

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The Nisei Women Who Fought—And Won—An Early Redress Battle In Seattle

On February 27, 1942, the Seattle School Board accepted the forced resignations of 27 Nisei women working as clerks for the school district. Four decades later, those women fought for, and won, a resolution to apologize and compensate them for their wartime dismissal. It was a small but powerful early victory for the Japanese American redress movement — and an indication of more to come. At the start of the 1941-1942 school year, Japanese Americans held over one-fourth of the clerical positions within Seattle area schools — all of them former students of the district. But within …

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4 Bad Ass Issei Women You've Probably Never Heard of

If you’re into strong women who like to color outside the lines and aren’t afraid to take what’s theirs, then you came to the right place, my friend. Keep reading for a herstory lesson on some little-known Issei trailblazers who were slaying stereotypes, undermining the patriarchy, and proving immigrants #MakeAmericaGreatAgain since before you were born. Get ready, ’cause it’s about to get hot in here. 1. YONA TSUDA ABIKO Born into a former samurai family in 1880, Yonako Tsuda arrived in the United States in 1907. She met her future husband, Nichibei Shimbun …

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