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Kaneko Family papers

Identifier: 2009.024

Scope and Contents

Collection contains photographs of Dorothy Kaneko and her peers at the Japanese American Service Committee.


  • circa 1988

Biographical / Historical

Dorothy Morita Kaneko (b. November 20, 1920 - d. December 3, 2006) was born in Hood River, Oregon. She was the oldest child of Mototsugu and Masano Morita. She had eight siblings (from oldest to youngest): Fumiko (Laura) Morita Terada, Ruth Morita Hidaka, Paul Morita, Claude Morita, Mototsugu (Junior) Morita, Flora Morita Hidaka, Betty Morita Shibayama, and Diana Morita Cole. She grew up on a farm family and she graduated from Odell High School in Hood River in 1939.

Hiroshi Kaneko (b. March 27, 1917 - d. June 3, 2012) was born in Beaver Hill, Oregon. He was the oldest son of Yagaro and Yori Kaneko. He had six siblings (from oldest to youngest): Mary Kaneko Koida, (Hiroshi), Midori Kaneko, Roy Kaneko, Harry Kaneko, Lilly Kaneko Takaki, and Rulie Kaneko Yamamoto. At the time of his birth, Hiroshi’s father was working as a miner. At the age of three, Hiroshi’s father took him and his two sisters to live with their grandparents in Japan after his father lost his job when the local mine closed. Ten years later Hiroshi returned to Oregon to live with his parents and by then four other siblings. He attended school in Salem. After high school, he helped his family make a living by farming near Salem as part of a farming cooperative of other Japanese American farmers.

Both Dorothy and Hiroshi were active in the youth groups of the Christian churches in their communities. In 1941, they met through a mutual friend and began dating. They married on March 15, 1942 in Salem, Oregon during the upheaval of the start of World War II. Initially, the U.S. military was going to draft Hiroshi. He secured a deferment because he was set to marry soon. After he and Dorothy married, during 1942 to early 1943, the U.S. government temporarily decided against drafting a segregated, all-Japanese Americans combat force.

In June 1942, the U.S. government removed Dorothy and Hiroshi from Salem and placed them directly into Tule Lake Relocation Center near Tulelake, California without going first to a temporary assembly center. In internment camp, Dorothy worked in the mess hall and Hiroshi did carpentry. Dorothy’s family (the Moritas) was sent to Pinedale Assembly Center near Fresno, California; briefly to Tule Lake Relocation Center; and then to Minidoka Relocation Center near Hunt, Idaho.

By July 1943, Dorothy and Hiroshi had secured jobs and were allowed out of internment camp to work as domestics for a wealthy couple in Barrington, Illinois, a far northern suburb of Chicago. After Dorothy became pregnant with their first child, they decided to move into Chicago. After much difficulty finding a place to live due to a housing shortage and facing discrimination, the Kanekos rented an apartment at 6404 S. Ellis in the Woodlawn neighborhood on the south side of Chicago. Hiroshi’s parents were released from internment camp and joined them in Chicago in 1944.

Together with his father, Hiroshi and Dorothy decided to lease a large apartment building and annex at 1039 N. LaSalle and 119-127 W. Maple Street in Chicago in June 1944. These buildings, called LaSalle Mansion and Annex, became a vital community apartment house where many Japanese Americans coming out of internment camp were able to secure housing. In addition, Hiroshi and his parents purchased a nearby farm in Argos, Indiana to grow Japanese produce. Hiroshi’s parents lived on the farm in the spring and summer to cultivate the produce and would bring it into the city to sell it at local Japanese American grocery stores. Meanwhile, Hiroshi and Dorothy operated LaSalle Mansion. At the same time, Hiroshi worked for Firestone Tire Company and often returned to the suburbs to help his previous employer with their gardens. Eventually in 1945, Hiroshi’s father and brother opened their own grocery store at Clark and Division Streets near LaSalle Mansion to sell their produce.

From approximately 1948 to 1962, the Kanekos purchased and lived in a six-flat building at 1020-1022 N. Clark in Chicago very near LaSalle Mansion. They rented out two apartments, two stores on the first level, and lived in one apartment while Dorothy’s parents lived in the other apartment. Hiroshi worked throughout the north side of the city doing carpentry work and restoring old mansions. Dorothy worked at home raising their three children: Donna (b. 1944), Cheryl (b. 1947, called “Cherie”), and Kevin (b. 1950). Their children attended Ogden Elementary School and then their daughters attended Francis Parker High School and their son attended Lane Technical High School. Dorothy was active with the Ogden School Parent-Teacher Association. Both Donna and Cherie graduated from Oberlin College, obtained Master’s degrees, and attended universities in Tokyo, Japan. Donna studied at International Christian University and Cherie studied at Waseda University.

From approximately 1962 to 2000, the couple lived at 1226 W. Argyle in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago. Dorothy and Hiroshi were active members of Christian Fellowship Church. This church eventually merged with Ravenswood Fellowship United Methodist Church. From 1972 to 1985, Dorothy worked at the JASC. She started a program for elders in the Japanese American community to keep them active and healthy with activities such as restaurant visits and cultural outings, and with services such as home delivered meals. Presently, the JASC is regarded as offering one of the first adult day service programs for seniors in the city of Chicago begun with, among others, Dorothy’s efforts and ideas.

At the time the collection was donated, Hiroshi remained active selling Japanese antiques and was an expert kite-maker. He shared his kite-making talents at schools, libraries, and cultural fairs. Dorothy was an active volunteer at the JASC. Both Dorothy and Hiroshi dedicated much of their time to activities at Ravenswood Fellowship United Methodist Church. Because of their dedication to the community, they were selected as the Japanese American Community Service Awardees at the Asian American Coalition Lunar New Year celebration in 2001. Dorothy Kaneko died in 2006 and Hiroshi Kaneko died in 2012.

For a written transcript of an oral history interview conducted with Hiroshi Kaneko, see REgenerations: Rebuilding Japanese American Families, Communities, and Civil Rights in the Resettlement Era vol. 1, edited by the Japanese American National Museum (Los Angeles: Japanese American National Museum, 2000) in the JASC Legacy Center's library collection. Also available online at

Source: Kaneko, Hiroshi; Kaneko, Dorothy Morita


1 folders

Language of Materials


Related Materials

Hiroshi Kaneko papers, Collection # 95.234, Japanese American National Museum, Los Angeles, CA.

REgenerations: Rebuilding Japanese American Families, Communities, and Civil Rights in the Resettlement Era, Vol. 1, edited by the Japanese American National Museum (Los Angeles: Japanese American National Museum, 2000), pages 303-376.
Physical copy available in the JASC Legacy Center library.


Stacks 02 Column 08 Shelf A

Kaneko Family papers
JASC Legacy Center staff
Original finding aid date unknown. Updated March 2022.
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the JASC Legacy Center Repository

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