Documents of Loss: Dave Tatsuno’s Records in the San Francisco Branch Evacuee Property Files

Today’s post is written by Jana Leighton, an Archivist in the Electronic Records Division at the National Archives at College Park with support from Kaitlyn Crain Enriquez, Archives Technician in the Still Pictures Branch at the National Archives at College Park.

In February of 1942 the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank was tasked with the role of fiscal agent for properties and goods (other than farms and farm machinery) of Germans, Italians, Japanese, and Japanese Americans affected by the evacuations from the west coast of the United States of America after the attack on Pearl Harbor through to 1946.[i] This role was initiated by Executive Order 9066 that allowed the Secretary of War to designate military areas and order evacuations of persons deemed a threat to national security. The records from Record Group 210: The Records of the War Relocation Authority in the series San Francisco Branch Evacuee Property Files, 3/18/1942-6/30/1946 reflect several of the Bank’s tasks. Many of the records depict the Bank assisting evacuees in the disposition of property holdings, protecting them from fraud, forced sales, and unscrupulous creditors, in addition to arranging for orderly liquidation of business and property interests while coming under the authority set out by the establishment of the War Relocation Authority.[ii]

A significant portion of the records contained in the series is correspondence and interviews. The correspondence between bank representatives and concerned parties, as well as reports and interview forms, provide a picture of what was being dealt with throughout the evacuation process. Photographs from Record Group 210’s series Central Photographic File of the War Relocation Authority, 1942 – 1945 (NAID 536000) provide faces to some of the names seen within the documents.

Landscape

San Francisco, California. A business man of Japanese ancestry confers with a representative of the Federal Reserve Bank at Wartime Civil Control Administration station to arrange disposition of his financial affairs prior to evacuation. Evacuees will be housed at War Relocation Authority centers for the duration. [iii]

Many of the documents indicate interaction between individuals or families and the Federal Reserve Bank as being a one-time event. However, there are records of multiple communication experiences between the Bank and some individuals, families, and/or businesses present within the series. In the case of Dave Tatsuno we can see he not only interacted with the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank prior to evacuation, but again when he encountered problems while housed at the Tanforan Assembly Center and subsequent relocation[iv] to the Central Utah Relocation Project[v] (also known as Topaz War Relocation Center).[vi]

Left: San Francisco, California. Dave Tatsuno and his father, merchants of Japanese ancestry in San Francisco prior to evacuation [vii]. Right: San Francisco, California. Dave Tatsuno, president of the Japanese American Citizens League of San Francisco, and his family pack for evacuation. Tatsuno was born in this country and was graduated from the University of California in 1936. Evacuees of Japanese ancestry will be housed in War Relocation Authority centers for the duration [viii].

The documents in the PDF below depict Mr. Tatsuno’s experience through both internal bank documents and documents which he produced. They revolve around issues concerning his San Francisco residence, dry goods store, and personal furniture. The records include an initial interview form; a memo by Federal Reserve Bank employees H.D. Armstrong outlining Mr. Tatsuno’s concerns with tenants residing in his property; and correspondence between Mr. Tatsuno, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco employees, and officials from the Wartime Civil Control Administration. The records have been arranged by date in the PDF and span from March 14, 1942 to December 17, 1942. All of the documents can be found within [R9A.012] Head Office Interview Reports: T (Part 4 of 5).

Reel-09A_012_Page_049

Click on the image to see the multi-page PDF pertaining to Dave Tatsuno (images appear in different order within the catalog) [ix].

The records for Dave Tatsuno illustrate the difficulties Japanese Americans faced while navigating the realities of evacuation and internment after Executive Order 9066 was executed. As this post only highlights a small portion of one individual’s records, I would highly recommend exploring more of the records. There are twelve file units, 345 items (pdfs) and 128,133 logical data records associated with this series. The entire series is available for viewing and download through the National Archives Catalog. Please view San Francisco Branch Evacuee Property Files, 3/18/1942-6/30/1946 (NAID 38221779) the related series Portland Branch Property Files, 3/18/1942-6/30/1946 (NAID 40143322) and the NARA Japanese Relocation and Internment resource page to discover more NARA holdings on the topic.


Footnotes:

[i] Report of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco: Evacuation Operations Pacific Coast Military Areas 1942 (40974894) [Electronic Record]; Portland Branch Evacuee Property Files, 3/18/1942-6/30/1946; Record Group 210: Records of the War Relocation Authority, 1941-1989. The National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD.

[ii] Report of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco: Evacuation Operations Pacific Coast Military Areas 1942 (40974894) [Electronic Record]; Portland Branch Evacuee Property Files, 3/18/1942-6/30/1946; Record Group 210: Records of the War Relocation Authority, 1941-1989. The National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD.

[iii] Photograph No. 210-G-A79, “San Francisco, California. A business man of Japanese ancestry confers with a representative of the Federal Reserve Bank at Wartime Civil Control Administration station to arrange disposition of his financial affairs prior to evacuation. Evacuees will be housed at War Relocation Authority centers for the duration,” Central Photographic File of the War Relocation Authority, 1942 – 1945; Record Group 210: Records of the War Relocation Authority, 1941-1989. The National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD.

[iv]Record for Dave Tatsuno, [Japanese-American Internee Data File], 1942 – 1946 [Electronic Record]; Records About Japanese Americans Relocated During World War II, created, 1988 – 1989, documenting the period 1942 – 1946; Record Group 210: Records of the War Relocation Authority. The National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD.

[v] Record for Dave Tatsuno, [Japanese-American Internee Data File], 1942 – 1946 [Electronic Record]; Records About Japanese Americans Relocated During World War II, created, 1988 – 1989, documenting the period 1942 – 1946; Record Group 210: Records of the War Relocation Authority. The National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD.

[vi] [R9A.12] Head Office Interview Repots: T (Part 4 of 5) (48565135) [Electronic Record]; San Francisco Branch Evacuee Property Files, 3/18/1942-6/30/1946; Record Group 210: Records of the War Relocation Authority, 1941-1989. The National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD.

[vii] Photograph No. 210-G-C450, “San Francisco, California. Dave Tatsuno and his father, merchants of Japanese ancestry in San Francisco prior to evacuation,” Central Photographic File of the War Relocation Authority, 1942 – 1945; Record Group 210: Records of the War Relocation Authority, 1941-1989. The National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD.

[viii] Photograph No. 210-G-A569, “San Francisco, California. Dave Tatsuno, president of the Japanese American Citizens League of San Francisco, and his family pack for evacuation. Tatsuno was born in this country and was graduated from the University of California in 1936. Evacuees of Japanese ancestry will be housed in War Relocation Authority centers for the duration,” Central Photographic File of the War Relocation Authority, 1942 – 1945; Record Group 210: Records of the War Relocation Authority, 1941-1989. The National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD.

[ix] [R9A.12] Head Office Interview Reports: T (Part 4 of 5) (48565135) [Electronic Record]; San Francisco Branch Evacuee Property Files, 3/18/1942-6/30/1946; Record Group 210: Records of the War Relocation Authority, 1941-1989. The National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD.

 

 

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