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PDHC has made a conscious effort to begin to collect artifacts from our rich ethnic history, and we have recently acquired a significant Japanese American collection.
From Meiji Laundry in Pasadena to the San Gabriel Nursery to vegetable farmers in La Puente, Japanese Americans contributed in myriads of ways to the Valley before World War II. “I was honored to interview twenty-five Niseis,” said Professor Susie Ling of Pasadena City College. “The transcripts are in this PDHC collection. I hope I captured some of the contributions of Fujiko Sakiyama Ishizu who went to Berkeley from Alhambra High in 1936; of Yosh Kuromiya who was one of the Heart Mountain resisters; of Chiye Watanabe who could not bury her hero brother, Joe Hayashi, at Forest Lawn because of racial covenants; and of MIS Sho Nomura who still lives in Sierra Madre.” The oral history collection also includes community activists like Bacon Sakatani of West Covina, the Ted Tajima of Pasadena, and Paul Tsunieshi formerly of Monrovia. Ling said, “These Niseis tell the story of their parents, tell the story of their internment, and tell the story of their post-war rebuilding.”
The collection also includes several Japanese American photograph albums. PCC’s Linda Stewart said, “We have some photos from the Pasadena Buddhist Temple established in 1948. The Shodas had a flower shop near our campus on Colorado Boulevard. Then we were fortunate to have Elsie Osajima share photos of her father, Jiro Morita, one of the founders of the Pasadena Sister-City Committee.” Sansei poet Amy Uyematsu shared photographs of her grandfather and Professor Joan Takayama-Ogawa opened a treasure chest of photographs of Meiji Laundry of Pasadena. Stewart continued, “We encourage others to consider depositing their photographs too.”
“For me,” said Professor Ling, “PCC’s Nisei Graduation and this PDHC Collection are a way to respect our Japanese pioneers. Read the transcripts one by one and feel the layers upon layers of legacy.”
The U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Service awarded a grant in 2009 to fund the establishment of PDHC. The PDHC website was then launched in 2010 by three of the city’s premier historical institutions – Pasadena City College Shatford Library, Pasadena Museum of History, and Pasadena Public Library. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, & Botanical Gardens and The City of Pasadena Planning & Community Development Department’s Design & Historic Preservation Section joined the group as contributing partners, and individuals have contributed personal and family collections to the collaboration. Together, we are discovering and illuminating Pasadena’s rich historical heritage and fulfilling PDHC’s mission by utilizing a multifaceted approach. PDHC is the people and institutions of Pasadena working together to bring the city’s rich history and traditions in one place, and tell the story of Pasadena to the world.
Today, our database contains over 11,000 records and we have 12 online exhibitions available. We also provide internships for students from the Digitization Skills Certificate Program at Pasadena City College.