Thursday, December 1, 2011
A new permanent exhibition of antique maps has just opened on the second floor of the CSU Dominguez Hills University Library. Entitled "Where Are You From?" the exhibition documents the vast information that be gleaned from maps. Looking for New Granada? Since it is now the country of Columbia you probably can't readily find it on MapQuest, although it is represented on a map now on display in the library. Need to find where Russian Tartary or "Hindoostan" was? You can find them in the exhibition. With 15 maps dating from 1747 to 1946, the exhibition covers the entire world. These maps show how the world was viewed throughout the last 250 years and surprise the viewer with accuracy as well as inaccuracy and whimsy. They invite praise for their art and design, confusion when a familiar place is named something else and serve as a gateway for critical thinking.
The exhibition features one 1847 map that shows the Mexican border reaching Oregon while another 100 years earlier is unable to show Northern Canada and Alaska because the map stated that they haven't been discovered yet. Many of the maps focus on Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, while others focus on California and Los Angeles. One 1788 map shows the Philippines and Borneo. While many of the maps were used to chart courses, others were created for fun and education(Jo Mora's California, 1945) and others were published to promote California tourism (Roads to Romance) or industrial locations (Unique Map of California). Some maps published before automobiles and without any need to chart a ship, were created for an atlas to teach physical geography.
One 1796 map has the longest title: “A general chart, on Mercator's projection, to shew the track of the Lion and Hindostan from England to the Gulph of Pekin in China, and of their return to England: with the daily statement of the barometer and thermometer as observed at noon: containing also the limits of the Chinese Empire as extended by the conquests of the present Emperor Tchien-Lung.”
Another map is entitled: “A New and Accurate Map of America drawn from the most approved modern Maps and Charts and adjusted by Astronomical Observations. Exhibiting the Course of Trade Winds both in the Atlantic & Pacific Oceans,” 1747.
The maps are part of the Library's Archives and Special Collections Map Collection. Additional maps are on display in the on the fifth floor. The Library collaborated with the Promoting Excellence in Graduate Studies Program (PEGS)to put the exhibition together. The maps can viewed during regular library hours.
On November 29, 2011 Dr. Donald Hata, professor emeritus of history addressed the largest group of students ever assembled in CSUDH's Archives Reading Room. Hata spoke on Japanese American incarceration during World War II and issues raised by the Archives current exhibition entitled "Building Evidence."
For more than 40 years, historians and archivists at California State University, Dominguez Hills have been gathering materials documenting the lives of Japanese Americans in the South Bay and Los Angeles. Consisting of photographs, yearbooks, and artwork, as well as documents such as letters and property leases, “Building Evidence: Japanese Americans in Southern California During Mid-Century – 40 Years of Collecting, An Exhibition” —on view now through March 2012—focuses on the lives and obstacles faced by Japanese Americans in the South Bay and Los Angeles prior to, during, and after World War II.
Topics covered in the materials collected include the location of Japanese American tenant farmer families on Dominguez/Rancho San Pedro lands before World War II and the removal of those families after Pearl Harbor; the mass evacuation of citizens and incarceration in concentration camps such as at Manzanar in California and Granada, Colorado; and letters from various Japanese Americans searching for jobs and places to live after the camps were closed. Several of the recently rescued Ninomiya Studio photographs show Japanese American life in the 1950s. In addition, the exhibition features the artwork of Mary Higuchi, Henry Fukahara, and H. Takata, as well as a scale model of a camp barracks made by former Torrance resident Min Sueda.
There are two talks related to the World War II component of “Building Evidence.” On Nov. 29, emeritus professor of history Donald T. Hata will speak on the issues surrounding the incarceration of Japanese Americans in the exhibition and in the fourth edition of his book, “Japanese Americans and World War II — Mass Removal, Imprisonment, and Redress” (with Nadine Ishitani Hata). He will speak on Nov. 29 at 4 p.m. Mitch Maki, acting provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, will speak on the Japanese American redress movement and its meaning for all Americans on Feb. 16, 2012, at 3 p.m. Both events will take place at the Archives and Special Collections Reading Room on the fifth floor of the south wing of the University Library.
A lease for 17 acres of the Rancho San Pedro between Ichiro Haijima and Carson Estate Company contains the notation, "Tenant Evacuated by U.S. Gov't 3-1-42." Courtesy of University Archives and Special Collections
Greg Williams, director of Archives and Special Collections at CSU Dominguez Hills, says that the exhibition connects the national injustice of Japanese American incarceration during WWII to events of similar outrage that took place locally.
“Many South Bay families were kicked off Rancho San Pedro lands that they had cultivated for a generation,” he says. “Our research has been able to map out where specific families lived on Rancho lands in the 1930s.
“The preservation of newsletters, photographs, and recently donated letters ensures that students will have access to new sources for today’s students to study from their own generational point of view,” Williams continues. “While the exhibition documents an enormous outrage against the rights of Japanese American citizens, it can also be viewed in the context of civil rights after 9-11 and the most recent laws against immigration in Arizona and Alabama. The purpose of this exhibition is to show students the relationship of the past to the present and how democratic principles are always at risk.”
Photographs appear courtesy of Mike Risner from the Ninomiya Collection.
The website Bakitwhy.com covered a visit to the archives on November 19, 2011 by local Filipino Americans interested in local history collections. See http://www.bakitwhy.com/articles/csudh-archives-and-special-collections-build-filipiniana-collection.