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Kamekichi Tokita Papers, circa 1900-circa 2010, bulk 1900-1948

Creator:
Tokita, Kamekichi, 1897-1948  Search this
Subject:
Callahan, Kenneth  Search this
Tokita, Shokichi  Search this
Tokita, Elsie  Search this
Art Institute of Seattle  Search this
Seattle Art Museum  Search this
Hotel Cadillac (Seattle, Wash.)  Search this
Henry Art Gallery  Search this
Public Works of Art Project  Search this
Minidoka Relocation Center  Search this
Group of Twelve (Seattle, Wash.)  Search this
Type:
Photograph albums
Photographs
Sketches
Scrapbooks
Diaries
Citation:
Kamekichi Tokita Papers, circa 1900-circa 2010, bulk 1900-1948. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Topic:
World War, 1939-1945 -- Japanese Americans  Search this
Asian American art  Search this
Asian American artists  Search this
Japanese American art  Search this
Japanese American artists  Search this
Asian American painters  Search this
Art, American -- Northwestern States  Search this
Painting, Modern -- 20th century -- Washington (State) -- Seattle  Search this
Art, Modern -- 20th century -- Northwestern States  Search this
Japanese Americans -- Forced removal and internment, 1942-1945 -- Diaries  Search this
Theme:
Asian American  Search this
Lives of American Artists  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA_CollID)10444
(DSI-AAA_SIRISBib)213849
AAA_collcode_tokikame
Theme:
Asian American
Lives of American Artists
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_coll_213849
Online Media:

Kamekichi Tokita Papers

Creator:
Tokita, Kamekichi  Search this
Names:
Art Institute of Seattle  Search this
Group of Twelve (Seattle, Wash.)  Search this
Henry Art Gallery  Search this
Hotel Cadillac (Seattle, Wash.)  Search this
Minidoka Relocation Center  Search this
Public Works of Art Project  Search this
Seattle Art Museum  Search this
Callahan, Kenneth, 1905-1986  Search this
Tokita, Elsie  Search this
Tokita, Shokichi  Search this
Extent:
1.5 Linear feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Photograph albums
Photographs
Sketches
Scrapbooks
Diaries
Date:
circa 1900-circa 2010
bulk 1900-1948
Summary:
The personal papers of Seattle area painter Kamekichi Tokita (1897-1948) measure 1.5 linear feet and date from circa 1900 to circa 2010 with the bulk of the material dating from circa 1910 to 1948. The papers include biographical materials, including documents about the closing of the War Relocation Authority's Minidoka Camp in Idaho; correspondence; three diaries written in Japanese documenting Tokita's war time experiences and forced relocation to Minidoka, two earlier notebooks, also written in Japanese, and scattered notes; a few personal business records; printed materials; one scrapbook; sketches; and one family photograph album.
Scope and Contents:
The personal papers of Seattle area painter Kamekichi Tokita (1897-1948) measure 1.5 linear feet and date from circa 1900 to circa 2010 with the bulk of the material dating from circa 1910 to 1948. The papers include biographical materials, including documents about the closing of the War Relocation Authority's Minidoka Camp in Idaho; correspondence; three diaries written in Japanese documenting Tokita's war time experiences and forced relocation to Minidoka, two earlier notebooks, also written in Japanese, and scattered notes; a few personal business records; printed materials; one scrapbook; sketches; and one family photograph album.

Biographical materials include a file on the Public Works of Art Project, a file on the War Relocation Authority and the closing of the Minidoka incarceration camp, an immigration document, and an essay on Tokita written by Shokichi and Elsie Tokita.

Correspondence is primarily professional in nature and concerns exhibitions at the Seattle Museum of Art (previously the Art Institute of Seattle) and other topics. Correspondents include Kenneth Callahan, Henry Gallery, the Seattle Art Museum, and others.

Tokita's writings consist of three diaries, two notebooks, and scattered general writings, most of which are in Japanese. The diaries were kept during World War II and document the family's incarceration at the Minidoka Relocation Camp in Idaho. Included is a transcript of the diaries which were translated from prewar to modern Japanese by Haruo Takasugi and from modern Japanese to English by Naomi Kusunoki-Martin.

Scattered business records include a patent application, records from the Cadillac Hotel, and a claim filed through the Department of Justice. A few published books in English and Japanese are about art and religion. Also found are exhibition catalogs for shows in which Tokita participated and clippings. There is one mixed media scrapbook about Tokita's exhibitions.

Artwork consists of unsigned pencil and watercolor sketches by Tokita. There is also a family photo album containing snapshots and portraits of the Tokita family and friends.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged as 8 series:

Series 1: Biographical Material, 1934-1985 (Box 1; 5 folders)

Series 2: Correspondence, circa 1920-1944 (Box 1; 8 folders)

Series 3: Diaries and Writings, 1923-circa 1950 (Box 1; 0.2 linear feet)

Series 4: Personal Business Records, 1928-1950 (Box 1; 3 folders)

Series 5: Printed Material, circa 1910-1940 (Box 1-3; 0.5 linear feet)

Series 6: Scrapbook, 1929-1933 (Box 2-3; 0.2 linear feet)

Series 7: Artwork, circa 1910-1940s (Box 2-3; 0.1 linear feet)

Series 8: Photograph Album, circa 1900-1930 (Box 2; 0.2 linear feet)
Biographical / Historical:
Kamekichi Tokita (1897-1948) was a Japanese American painter and businessman who emigrated from Japan in 1919 and settled in Seattle, Washington. Tokita was a member of the Seattle area progressive artists' collective known as the "Group of Twelve" and widely exhibited his artwork throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Kamekichi Tokita was born in Shizouka City, Japan and immigrated to the United States at the age of twenty-two. He settled in the Japantown neighborhood of Seattle, Washington where he opened the Noto Sign Company with business partner Kenjiro Nomura. Nomura was also an artist and encouraged Tokita's interest in oil painting. They both used the sign shop as their studio after-hours. In 1936, the Noto Sign Company closed and Tokita took over management of the Cadillac Hotel, although he continued to paint commercial signs. Tokita married Haruko Suzuki in 1932 and together they had eight children.

As a child in Japan, Tokita studied calligraphy in China. Although he attended a few art school classes in in the U.S. and went on weekend painting trips with Nomura and other Seattle artists, Tokita is considered to be a largely self-trained artist. Support and recognition came from Dorothy V. Morrison of the Henry Gallery at the University of Washington who wrote to Tokita to inquire whether a "group of Japanese artists in the city" would be interested in exhibiting their work. Although the exhibition of Japanese artists did not happen, Tokita later loaned paintings to the gallery for inclusion in an exhibition sponsored by the American Federation of Arts. Throughout the late 1920s and 1930s Tokita exhibited widely in the Seattle area. In 1935, the Seattle Daily Times touted the work of Tokita and other painters in the "Group of Twelve" that also included Morris Graves, Kenneth Callahan, Walter F. Isaacs, and Ambrose and Viola Patterson, among others. In 1942, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Kamekichi Tokita and his family (five children at the time), along with the approximately 120,000 Japanese and Japanese American citizens living on the West Coast, were ordered under President Franklin Roosevelt's Executive Order 9066 to be forcibly removed to one of several incarceration camps. For the first six months of their imprisonment, the family lived at a temporary Civilian Assembly Center in Puyallup, Washington. They were transferred to the Minidoka Relocation Camp in Hunt, Idaho where they remained until their release in 1945. While incarcerated in Minidoka, Tokita worked as a sign painter and continued to privately paint, using whatever materials he could find, including beaver board. His work was featured in art shows at the camp. Many of his camp scenes are now lost or were given away.

At the end of World War II, Tokita and his family (now seven children) moved back to the Seattle-area. Unable to find housing, the Tokitas lived at a Japanese language school until Tokita was able to re-establish his business. During this period he painted very little. In 1946 Tokita and his wife purchased the New Lucky Hotel in the Chinatown area of Seattle. Shortly thereafter, Tokita fell ill and died in 1948. Many of his works are believed to have been destroyed or lost. Some of his work remains, however, and is among the permanent collections of the Seattle Art Museum, the Tacoma Art Museum, the Portland Art Museum.

Note: Much of this biographical note was taken from "A Biographical Resume" written by Shokichi and Elsie Y. Tokita.
Separated Materials:
A watercolor painting on paper by Kamekichi Tokita, Untitled (Still Life), 9 x 12 in. was transferred to the Smithsonian American Art Museum in 2012.
Provenance:
The Kamekichi Tokita papers were donated by his son, Shokichi Tokita in 1990. He donated a third and final diary in 2017. They were collected as part of the Archives of American Art Northwest Asian American project in Seattle, Washington.
Restrictions:
This collection is open for research. Access to original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center.
Rights:
The Archives of American Art makes its archival collections available for non-commercial, educational and personal use unless restricted by copyright and/or donor restrictions, including but not limited to access and publication restrictions. AAA makes no representations concerning such rights and restrictions and it is the user's responsibility to determine whether rights or restrictions exist and to obtain any necessary permission to access, use, reproduce and publish the collections. Please refer to the Smithsonian's Terms of Use for additional information.
Occupation:
Painters -- Washington (State) -- Seattle  Search this
Topic:
World War, 1939-1945 -- Japanese Americans  Search this
Asian American art  Search this
Asian American artists  Search this
Japanese American art  Search this
Japanese American artists  Search this
Asian American painters  Search this
Art, American -- Northwestern States  Search this
Painting, Modern -- 20th century -- Washington (State) -- Seattle  Search this
Art, Modern -- 20th century -- Northwestern States  Search this
Japanese Americans -- Forced removal and internment, 1942-1945 -- Diaries  Search this
Genre/Form:
Photograph albums
Photographs
Sketches
Scrapbooks
Diaries
Citation:
Kamekichi Tokita papers, circa 1900-circa 2010, bulk circa 1910-1948. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.tokikame
See more items in:
Kamekichi Tokita Papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/mw9a680d2f9-94bf-4350-9f34-69068917ef42
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-tokikame
Online Media:

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