Tuesday, August 28, 2012


When I was about 14 years old I participated in the annual History Fair and decided to investigate a topic that was closer to home. Although my name is Alexandra Vasilou (both first and last being of Greek origin) I am the daughter of a Japanese American mother who grew up in Chicago. At the time, I had no connection to the Japanese American community. However, through my investigation into the history of Japanese Americans in Chicago, I was introduced to many organizations such as the Chicago Japanese American Historical Society (CJAHS).

The CJAHS is a volunteer, non profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to document, preserve and share the complex history of Japanese Americans in Chicago. The organization was formed by Yoji Ozaki in the 1980s following the development of the exhibit, "Chicago Goes to War 1941- 45" with assistance from the Chicago Historical Society. The CJAHS continues their work though a comprehensive historical presentation about the Japanese American experience as well as through museum collaboration, a publication of personal stories from various authors titled "Voices of Chicago" and their archive.
Above is the president of the CJAHS in 1943 when she was a very young girl in an internment camp.

Pictured here are board members and volunteers working at one of the many events hosted by the CJAHS.

Following the end of my project I continued to maintain a relationship with the organization. Now, for the past year I have been assisting at the archive, organizing, identifying and accessioning a plethora of materials. This blog will be dedicated to recording my experience with the Chicago Japanese American Historical Society Archive.