Archives On The Air 38: "Until Death, Or Relocation, Do Us Part"—Estelle Ishigo Drawings

Aug 8, 2018

When the Heart Mountain Relocation Center was established after Pearl Harbor, many of the Japanese-American internees found ways of documenting their experiences.

One depiction of Heart Mountain came from Estelle Ishigo - one of the only white internees in any relocation camp.

Estelle was married to a Japanese-American man, Arthur Ishigo, and volunteered to be detained in order to stay with him.

To cope with life in the camp, Ishigo sketched black and white images of the people, buildings, and life with a minimalist, almost children’s-book style.

The drawings show the hardships of the cold weather, poorly-built buildings, and prison-like conditions, but also the recreation and pleasure found in the camps.

Her minimalist interpretation may reflect the lack of resources provided to the Japanese-American internees or perhaps the black and white sketches were her testament on the dichotomy of race.

Each sketch contains very little but says a lot. See for yourself by browsing the Estelle Ishigo drawings in person or in the digital collections of UW’s American Heritage Center.