Saturday, September 8, 2012

A Day with Photos

Last Saturday, I returned to the CJAHS archive. As it stands today, there is a great amount of work to be done. Accessioning items into our new program means that every item within the archive must be removed, examined, identified, and stored in its new, proper location. Some items are easier to identify and have ample amount of information attached to them. Others, namely photographs, are harder to link to a year, person, or location. During my last visit to the archive I only worked with photographs. I had been working on a large stack of photographs on the previous Saturdays, but the pile was becoming overwhelming. So, I decided to focus on a group of old photos from a single donor. I was lucky enough to find one large photo in which a group of Japanese Americans were posing with a massive tarp sign which fully identified the photograph.

Chicago Japanese Christian Church Group Spring Tour

I also was able to recognize Mrs. Arai, giving me a better sense of the photographs origins. In the same collection I found photographs of the same individuals posing in front of various monuments in Washington D.C. I also found a photograph of the group at a Christian gathering with what appears to be many different individuals from a variety of churches. While at first the task appeared very daunting, as I began to put the pieces together, I was able to understand the history behind the photographs. It felt like the moment when you finally solve a multilayered puzzle.

As I explored further into this collection of photos, I came across some very interesting photographs of Tom Arai in the army. From his uniform and the dates listed on a few of the photos I was able to identify the year, which placed him in the Second World War. Furthermore, "Rome", "Genova" and "Pisa" were written on the backs of the photos. This was one of my most interesting discoveries, as I have recently visited Genova while studying at the John Felice Rome Center. Never would I have guessed that my work in the CJAHS archive would bring me all the way back to Rome.

Tom Arai in Pisa, Italy

No comments:

Post a Comment