Yes! You Were Here, Too: Yearbook Portraits of AAPI Students from the 1940s.

Because our classes let out at the beginning of May, ISU tends to celebrate AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) History Month a month early.

Something I’ve noticed about our heritage months posts, which center the histories of specific racial or ethnic communities, is that they tend to front-end very recent history. This makes sense from an archival stand-point, because the records we have preserved for these communities don’t always go back very far. But, sadly, the archival gaps  perpetuate an illusion that non-white students were not always present on the ISU campus.

But this was not true! We have photographic evidence to the contrary — at least, we have some senior portraits in the old Bomb YearbooksThe real issue is that we don’t usually have much documentation beyond these photos, or even about the people in them, and that, if we do, it’s not always clear where this documentation might live. This is why these pictures tend not to be brought forward all that much. We don’t know the story behind them. As archival records, they just exist.

But they do exist.

Here, then, is a sampling of 1940s (decade chosen somewhat at random) yearbook portraits of students whom I believe — based, unfortunately, solely on appearance and name — to be AAPI, along with at least one potentially South Asian/Middle Eastern student. My hope is that someday all of our students will be able to see themselves in Iowa State history very readily, without first needing to pour through tomes of records in order to find a face that looks like theirs. But we are still working on that goal.

1942_Tsuneo Tanabe_portrait

Tsuneo Tanabe, Class of 1942. 1942 Bomb Yearbook page 113

As can be seen on his yearbook page below, Tanabe was from Poctello, Idaho and completed a B.S. in Dairy Husbandry.

1942_Tanabe with Classmates

Tanabe with his classmates. 1942 Bomb, page 113.

1943_Woo C._Portrait

Chi-tang Woo, Class of 1943. 1943 Bomb Yearbook page 129.

Not all yearbooks give detailed information on graduating seniors, but, because of the war, classes of the early 1940s were relatively small, so this year’s yearbook made an exception. Woo’s hometown, area of study, undergraduate college, and some of his I.S.C. activities are listed below.

1943_Woo Info

1943 Bomb, page 128

 

1944_John Barakat

John Barakat, Class of 1944. 1944 Bomb Yearbook, page 20.

For those students whose yearbook pages were less helpful, I was not, unfortunately, able to do any external research at this time. But, if you are interested in learning more about their stories, feel free to use my post as a jumping-off point!

1944_Barakat with Classmates

Barakat pictured with his classmates. 1944 Bomb, page 20.

1946_Mildred A. Saha

Mildred A. Saha, Class of 1946. 1946 Bomb Yearbook, page 37.

1946_Mildred with Classmates

Mildred with her classmates. 1946 Bomb Yearbook, page 37.

1946_Yutaka Kobayashi_portrait

Yutaka Kobayashi, Class of 1946. 1946 Bomb Yearbook, page 32.

1946_Kobayashi with Classmates

Kobayashi with his classmates. 1946 Bomb Yearbook, page 32.

1947_Shigeru Fujimoto_portrait

Shigeru Fujimoto, Class of 1947. 1947 Bomb Yearbook, page 23.

1947_Fujimoto with Classmates

Fujimoto with classmates. 1947 Bomb Yearbook, page 23.

1948_Chujen Julien Liu

Chujen Julien Liu, Class of 1948

1948_Chung Yu Lo

Chung Yu Lo, Class of 1948

1948_Liu and Lo with Classmates

Liu and Lo with their classmates. 1948 Bomb yearbook, page 34.

1948_Tze Sheng Chiang_portrait

Tze Sheng Chiang, Class of 1948. 1948 Bomb Yearbook, page 24.

1948_Chiang with classmates

Chiang with classmates. 1948 Bomb Yearbook, page 24.

Another important thing to note is that, because these portraits feature only graduating seniors, and only those who chose to have their pictures taken, it is likely that there were more AAPI students on campus at this time. It is also very possible that I missed people, misidentified people’s ethnicit(y/ies), or both. I did not do extensive research on any of these students, and, because yearbook portraits from this era are black and white and very low resolution, I omitted several ethnically-ambiguous individuals who had German or Anglo-Saxon last names (which might have meant they were multi-racial, bore anglicized family names, were white-passing, were in fact white, or any other number of things). As such, I encourage you to come look at the yearbooks yourself. They are available both in the SCUA reading room and via our digital collections online.

If you happen across additional information (or additions or corrections!) about any of the individuals featured above, feel free to send me an email at achesonr@iastate.edu, and I will update the post. Also, if you decide to do further research on former students who have peaked your interest, please let us know what you find out about them! We are always interested in learning more about Iowa State alumni.

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