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Yamasaki Family photograph collection

Identifier: 2009.013P

Scope and Contents

Collection contains photographs of Yamasaki family members and many of their friends. Of note is a World War II era photograph of medical staff members standing in front of an ambulance (ca. 1942). Many of the individuals are identified on the back of the photograph. The photographs also reflect the Yamasaki family’s resettlement experience in Colorado and Chicago. Finally, the collection contains six large panoramic photographs of religious and Japanese American Council gatherings (ca. 1935-1946).


  • 1920-2002

Biographical / Historical

The Yamasaki family consisted of parents, Aiji (1887-1968) and Iwa Taga Yamasaki (1884-1958) and their children - Nobu Donao (1904-1965), Masao Virgil Yamasaki (1914-1996), Yukio Kiyo Yamasaki (1917-1996), Michiko Helen Takamoto (1922-1996) and Yoneko Florence Yamasaki (1926-2006).

On December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor was attacked and, on February 19, 1942, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt authorized United States Executive Order 9066. This order led to the forced removal of individuals of Japanese descent from designated “military zones” located mostly along the West Coast. The Yamasaki family were fruit farmers from the Sacramento, California area and they were swept up in the evacuation. The family members – except for Masao and Nobu - were sent to the Pinedale Assembly Center for processing and then were incarcerated at the Poston Relocation Center (also known as Colorado River Relocation Center) in LaPaz County, Arizona. Nobu was married and living away from the Yamasaki family farm. She and her family were processed at the Walerga Assembly Center. They were interned first at the Tule Lake Relocation Center in California and later at Heart Mountain in Wyoming. Masao was serving in the Army.

Masao Yamasaki enlisted in the U.S. Army on March 26, 1941. After completing basic training, Masao was assigned to Company E of the 115th Engineers, 40th Infantry Division at Camp San Luis Obispo. Several months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Masao, along with 200 other Japanese American soldiers, was reassigned to the War Department Personnel Center at Fort Sam Houston in Texas. While there, he worked on dog tags and in the record center. Eventually Masao was transferred to the Military Intelligence Service (MIS) and graduated from the Military Intelligence Language School at Fort Savage in June 1943.

In 1944, Masao began his service abroad and participated in the New Guinea, Southern Philippines and Luzon campaigns as an interpreter. Masao’s efforts on behalf of the U.S. military were recognized in the form of numerous decorations and citations. Having achieved the rank of Technician Third Grade, or T3, he was discharged from the military on December 29, 1945 and resettled in Chicago, Illinois.

Masao and his wife Anne had five children. He graduated from the Gregg Business College in Chicago. Masao worked for more than thirty years for the Atlas Electric Devices Company, starting as a stockroom clerk and retiring as the company’s purchasing agent.

Masao was actively involved in civic and religious organizations at both the local and state levels. His commitment to these activities led to his induction into the Chicago Senior Citizens Hall of Fame in 1981.

Nobu Donao had three children and lived in Chicago with her husband, Saichi. She was an accomplished dressmaker.

Yukio Kiyo Yamasaki lived in Chicago with his wife, Mary. He was employed as a sheet metal worker at Atlas Electric Devices Company. Kiyo was an avid sportsman and an active member of the Japanese American community in Chicago.

Michiko Helen Takamoto had three children and lived in Chicago with her husband, John. She was employed as a garment worker at Sherman’s.

Yoneko Florence Yamasaki lived in Chicago and graduated from the Gregg Business College. She worked first for the Chicago Cubs and then for the Chicago White Sox as a bookkeeper. In May 1965, she assisted Jack Brickhouse with his interview of Masanori Murakami, a pitcher for the San Francisco Giants and the first American major league baseball player recruited from Japan.

Source: Yamasaki, Masao


3 boxes

Language of Materials




Stacks 2, 10B and 10C

Yamasaki Family photograph collection
Language of description
Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the JASC Legacy Center Repository

4427 N Clark St.
Chicago IL 60640 United States
1 (773) 275-0097