{ subscribe_url:'//blogs.loc.gov/share/sites/library-of-congress-blogs/folklife.php' }

Vintage Researcher Photo: George Takei

takei with staff sm

Actor George Takei with AFC’s director and some of the staff’s biggest Star Trek fans. L-R: Judith Gray, George Takei, Betsy Peterson, Stephen Winick, Brock Thompson. Photo by Brad Takei, April 12, 2012.

In honor of Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, we present this vintage AFC researcher photo. (And by “vintage,” I mean “prior to the existence of Folklife Today.”) This photo shows the stage, film, and television actor George Takei, best known as Mr. Sulu from the original Star Trek, who visited the AFC Reading Room on April 12, 2012. Takei was on Capitol Hill that day with his husband Brad, and thanks to some wheeling and dealing by AFC’s administrator at the time, Brock Thompson, they came to visit us while they were here.

helping george takei sm

Here I am helping George Takei with images from the Library’s Prints and Photographs Division. Photo by AFC staff, April 12, 2012.

The Takeis’ visit occurred during my shift on the reference desk, and I asked if George would like to see any items from AFC or Library of Congress collections. He told me he would be interested in any photographs pertaining to the Rohwer Relocation Camp in Arkansas, where he was interned as a child during World War II. We showed him some of the Library’s materials related to Rohwer, including some photos from the Prints and Photographs Division taken at a 1943 gathering at which Japanese American soldiers were invited to dance with the camp’s young women. The Library’s photos were taken at a camp in Mississippi to which Rohwer women were transported for the dance, but Takei remembered a similar event that occurred at Rohwer itself. He was a young child at the time, and was put to bed in another building before the party started, but it was a major event on the camp’s social calendar.

Japanese American soldiers of the 442nd Combat Team at dance, Camp Shelby, Mississippi, with Japanese American girls from Jerome and Rohwer Relocation Center in Arkansas: Dancing a slow dance

Here is the U.S. War Department photo George Takei and I are viewing in the photo above: Japanese American soldiers of the 442nd Combat Team at dance, Camp Shelby, Mississippi, with Japanese American girls from Jerome and Rohwer Relocation Center in Arkansas: Dancing a slow dance. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3b36284

Takei was glad to see the photos after so many years, and told me he would use them as guidance for hairstyles and clothing in Allegiance, a musical about the experience of Japanese Americans in those trying times. (Takei is one of the creators and stars of Allegiance, which premiered in California a few weeks after his visit to AFC.)

As for AFC’s collections, we also showed Takei some of the Veterans History Project’s interviews with Japanese American World War II vets, including that of Norman Ikari, whose brother was interned with Takei and about eight thousand other Japanese Americans. Ikari’s collection is at this link.

The AFC staff was delighted to serve George Takei’s research needs, and to meet an American icon of great grace, wit, and wisdom. (And that voice!) We also appreciated Brad, who expertly managed his husband’s visit. Finally, we are grateful that George allowed us to discuss the details of his visit via our social media channels–as one of the biggest stars of Facebook, the Blogosphere, and the Whole Durn Internet, he understands the importance of spreading the word!

New collection documents issue related to wild horses in the Great Basin

The latest collection of oral histories and related documentation acquired by the American Folklife Center explores the significance and impact of wild horses, which remain deeply connected to the culture, economy and mythology of the West. Two companion collections include more than 1,000 images and more than 70 recorded interviews with those whose lives are impacted by the horses. Also […]

Gerdan Concert May 22

On Thursday, May 22, at noon, in the Library’s Whittall Pavilion (right next door to the Coolidge Auditorium in the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building, which is 10 First St, SE), the American Folklife Center is pleased to present Gerdan, a group that describes its offerings as a “kaleidoscope of world music.”  The group’s violinist, Solomia […]

Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month: Highlights from the Veterans History Project

The following is a guest post by Rachel Telford, Program Specialist at the Veterans History Project. When Veterans History Project staff members are called upon to identify particularly interesting, poignant, or visually appealing collections in our archive, one name that comes up again and again is Kenje Ogata. A Japanese-American who fought for more than […]

Some Songs for Mother’s Day

The tradition of a national celebration of Mother’s Day in the United States grew out of reactions to the aftermath of the Civil War. Poet, suffragist, and author of the lyrics of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” Julia Ward Howe attempted to unite women in the cause of peace, beginning with her “Appeal to […]

From Cornwall to the Ozarks: More May Celebrations

  As you can read in Stephanie Hall’s Post “May Day: A Festival of Flowers,” on May Day, or May 1, people in Europe traditionally celebrated the coming of summer with songs, dances, and ceremonies.  But confining our understanding to one day alone would limit the materials we can share with you regarding springtime holidays, […]