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Mary and James Numata collection

Identifier: 1999.002


  • 1931-1995

Biographical / Historical

James Shizuo Numata was born on March 27, 1918 in Devils Slide, Utah. He spent a significant portion of his youth in Hiroshima, Japan with his parents and his brother, George. Prior to the start of World War II, James moved to California while his family continued to reside in Hiroshima.

After Pearl Harbor was attacked, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the United States Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942 which led to the forced evacuations of Japanese Americans and ethnic Japanese people from designated “military zones” located mostly along the West Coast. Shortly thereafter, James Numata was interned at Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Wyoming.

By the late 1940s, James was living in Chicago, a resettlement hub for many Japanese Americans. He met his future wife, Mary Muramoto, in Chicago and they married in 1950. James was an avid photographer and documented many of the places he visited abroad and in the United States. He photographed events hosted by the Chicago Resettlers’ Committee (now named the Japanese American Service Committee), the Chicago Buddhist Church (now Buddhist Temple Chicago), Japanese performances, Chicago events and architecture. His parents and brother, George, continued to reside in Hiroshima after the war. George went on to obtain a medical degree and opened the Numata Children’s Hospital. James and Mary Numata lived in Chicago for the rest of their lives.

In his professional life, James was a bookkeeper with Sugano Travel Agency and the collection indicates that he guided tour groups to Japan and Hawaii on occasion. He was also the president of the Central Trading Co., an import/export business, located at 4554 North Broadway in Chicago, Illinois.

James was active in the Chicago Hiroshima Kenjinkai group and was a member of the Chicago Buddhist Church. Later in his life, he moved to Heiwa Terrace - a not-for-profit organization that provides federally subsidized housing for seniors and individuals with disabilities to this day. He died on September 24, 1997.

Mary Chiyoko Numata was born to Asa and Frank Denichi Muramoto on January 25, 1917 (estimated date). According to the 1940 U.S. Federal Population Census, the family lived in Pueblo, Colorado, where her father worked as a photographer. It appears that Frank Muramoto owned and operated the DeLuxe Photo Studio in Pueblo. The family also consisted of siblings James and George Muramoto. It is unknown what Mary did in her professional life. Mary and James married on September 24, 1950 at the Chicago Buddhist Church. In 1990, Mary suffered through a series of debilitating strokes and entered Harmony Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center where she resided until she passed on February 11, 2001.

Source: Numata, James


5 boxes

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Stacks 2, 6F

Mary and James Numata collection
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Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the JASC Legacy Center Repository

4427 N Clark St.
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