Nisei Voices

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By Joyce Hirohata  and Paul T. Hirohata

Nisei Voices documents and celebrates the lives of the first Japanese American valedictorians of California public schools in the 1930s. These students are called Nisei (pronounced "nee-say") which means second-generation children of Japanese immigrants.

The students' speeches were first published in the 1930s by Paul T. Hirohata in a book called Orations and Essays. Now, over seventy years later, Hirohata's granddaughter, Joyce Hirohata, has updated and expanded the volume.

In this new edition, she documents the valedictorians' lives and adds a collection of poignant photographs to the original 1930s material. The fifty manuscripts of the valedictorians' orations give a rare glimpse into the hearts of Japanese Americans in the period between World Wars. Over 160 images bring to life the history of the Nisei students and their generation.

Through interviews with the valedictorians, as well as their families and friends, Nisei Voices creates a collage of the students' lives, forged in hope but tested by the adversity of incarceration. An epic story of triumph, Nisei Voices lends a powerful, personal perspective of Japanese Americans before, during and after World War II, and the decades that followed.