Volunteer project between the Sons & Daughters of the 442nd RCT and the Archives & Manuscripts Department of Hamilton Library, University of Hawaii at Manoa
Contributed by S&D member Jon Ishihara
Since August of last year, a dedicated group of Sons & Daughters members have been giving their time and effort each week for a volunteer project at Hamilton Library of the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
The volunteer project is to digitize the holdings in the Archives & Manuscripts Department of Hamilton Library that were donated to the Library by the 442nd Veterans Club years back and which consists of thousands of documents from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and other material such as the memoirs of Love Company, 3rd Battalion. After digitization, the material will be available to all with Internet access via the Archives & Manuscripts Department’s web pages for perusal and research. Currently, the bulk of the material must be accessed in person by visiting Hamilton Library on the Manoa campus.
The results of this volunteer project will differ from 442nd Regimental Combat Team-related NARA documents currently available online via the Archives & Manuscripts Department and other websites such as the Japanese American Veterans Association (https://java.wildapricot.org/) and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team Legacy website (the442.org) in that the digitization by the Sons & Daughters and the Archives & Manuscripts Department involves creating files by use of optical character recognition (OCR) software that are searchable within the documents themselves. Additionally, the JAVA website and the442.org website each appears to have some of the same documents as the Archives & Manuscripts Department but also different documents in their respective collections. Therefore, it seems safe to state that all three collections are useful to those interested in information about the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.
In brief, this story has its roots in the work led by veterans such as Ted Tsukiyama in Hawaii and dedicated persons on the mainland to seek out material in the NARA collections (in Washington, D.C. and Maryland) related to the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the incarceration of Japanese Americans and their Issei parents and family members after the Pearl Harbor attack, the Military Intelligence Service and the WWII period. Copies of the material compiled were donated to the University of Hawaii Library by the 442nd Veterans Club/442nd RCT Foundation where it resides in the Archives & Manuscripts Department.
Our S&D volunteers are re-scanning the thousands of documents to meet accessibility standards, are using OCR software to create the searchable files and are compiling the “metadata” on each document that will be used for identification and discovery. Scanning is the most straightforward task. The OCR step involves checking that each word in a document is correctly recognized by the OCR software and can mean retyping an entire document if the document is of too poor quality to be “read” by the software. Creating the metadata involves inputting a document title, author, date, etc. and also reading the entire document in order to summarize the contents in one or a few sentences. This is a time-consuming effort and to date, approximately 24 of 35 boxes of the NARA documents at the Archives & Manuscripts Department have been scanned. However, our S&D volunteers feel this project is a concrete way to help keep the legacy of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team alive into the future. Each of us is also learning much more about the 442nd RCT and the WWII period than we imagined prior to starting the project.
This is a true win-win situation as the goal of both the Sons & Daughters and Hamilton Library is to make this material related to the 442nd Regimental Combat Team publicly accessible online. The Sons & Daughters volunteers are the manpower and heart of this project and the Archives & Manuscripts Department provides the guidance, equipment and facilities for the digitization. Mahalo Nui Loa to our Sons & Daughters volunteers Juanita Wright Allen, Lynn Heirakuji, Jon Ishihara, Mae Isonaga, Gayle Kawahakui, Steve Migdol, Tracy Sakai, Caitlin Shishido, Laughlin Tanaka, Janice Trubitt and Bill Wright who each volunteer several hours per week for this large undertaking. Mahalo Nui Loa also to Leilani Dawson and the staff at the Archives & Manuscripts Department of Hamilton Library for the training and support of our volunteers. We look forward to seeing the material online.