OSU’s Japanese American Students During WWII

Signatures of OSC Japanese American Students in a Letter to the President, Dec 11th 1941

Just four days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese American students of OSC (Oregon State College) wrote a letter to the college president to express their loyalty to the United States.

Over the course of the next 6 months, the OSC President’s Office produced numerous records, including letters and travel documents, pertaining to those students. The records reflect the federal internment policies of the time period. All these documents have been scanned and are available online:

President’s Office Records regarding OSC’s Japanese American students

The OSC student newspaper, The Barometer, published a couple of articles in 1942 pertaining to the Japanese American students.

In October 1995, the Oregon Stater published an article explaining the impact of the internment policies on OSC’s Japanese American students: “Freedom Lost: The Experiences of OSU students of Japanese Ancestry during World War II”

The Beaver Yearbook is also an excellent resource to discover materials pertaining to the Japanese American students.  Many photographs of the Japanese American students have already been digitized and are available online. Listed below are the names of the 36 students who signed the Letter to the President. The students names have been linked to  the photographs of them. (Note: If a student’s name is not a link there are no digitized photographs available of them at this time.)

Edward Ko Yada                              Tom Arai                                       Henry K. Makino
Raymond Hashitani                         Sigeo Kiyokawa                            Robert M. Yoshimoto
Jack Kato                                          Mary Takao                                  Masao Tamiyasu
Tom Namba                                     Florence Yogi                                Todd T. Okita
Sam Iwata                                        Noboru Endow                              Victor Shimizu
Masao Kinoshita                              Tommy Ouchida                           Tsukasa Sakuma
Virigina C. Ogura                             Lena Kageyama                            Carl Somekawa
Sumi Ogura                                      Kay Kiyokawa                               Kay Nakagiri
Aiko Sumoge                                    Jean Akita                                      Michiye Ichiba
Shig(eru) Hongo                              Molly M. Kageyama
Roy Kaneko                                      Frank T. Saito
Jimmy Miyoshi
Harry Y. Iwatsuki
Taro Miura
Tony Takashima

According to the document “Japanese Students Fall–1941”, there were a total of 38 students attending OSC. There were 3 students on the list whose signatures did not appear on the Letter to the President: Marjorie Horagami, Jack Chiaki Yoshihara and Kate Keiko Iwasaki. Both Marjorie and Jack were born in Japan. There is no information as to why Kate did not sign the Letter to the President.

It is also important to note that the name Molly M. Kageyama is signed on the Letter to the President, but her name does not appear on the list of Japanese students for Fall of 1941.


Over 60 years later, on May 31, 2007, Governor Kulongoski signed House Bill 2823 that allowed state institutions of higher education to award honorary post-secondary degrees to an individual ordered “evacuated by Presidential Executive Order 9066” to an internment camp during the Second World War. In 2008, OSU awarded honorary degrees to some of the students who had been interned.

Various newspaper articles from 2007-2008 regarding the campaign for the honorary degrees and the 2008 commencement are available online:

Articles Regarding Honorary Degrees, 2007-2008

2008 Commencement

The recording of the 2008 commencement ceremony is available online at ~ 139th Annual Commencement Ceremony – OSU  honors World-War II era students of Japanese ancestry

Two OSU blogs also have information pertaining to the 2008 honorary degrees: the Admissions Office’s blog and the OSU Spotlight Blog.


Be sure to check back for more information as more content is added to the collection and for our planned display of this history in May 2013!

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