Michi Kobi Papers (TAM 697)

A black and white photograph of Michi Kobi from the chest up. She is looking at the camera and smiling. Michi Kobi (1924-2016), born Machiko Okamoto, was a Japanese American actress and activist. During World War II, she, along with 110,000 other Nisei, was forcibly removed from her home and incarcerated at the Central Utah Relocation Center, a concentration camp (euphemistically referred to as an internment camp) in Topaz, Utah. She turned to acting while incarcerated and after the war pursued an acting career in New York, appearing in film and Broadway productions. Kobi also worked to draw attention to the injustices of Japanese American wartime incarceration, and in 1980 served as the co-chair of the East Coast Japanese Americans for Redress.

The Michi Kobi Papers consist of correspondence, newspaper clippings, photographs, and drafts of her writings. Correspondence predominantly relates to Kobi’s study of Japanese American history and the incarceration of Japanese Americans, and includes letters to personal friends, scholars, and activists in the Japanese American community. Kobi’s writings include multiple drafts of an untitled novel about Japanese Americans in San Francisco, research files on Japanese Americans, and drafts of her unpublished memoir about her experience at the Topaz concentration camp. The collection also contains photographs from Kobi’s visit to the Topaz historic site in the 1980s, as well as audio recordings of conferences and meetings on this period of Japanese American incarceration.

To learn more about the contents of the Michi Kobi Papers, located at the Tamiment Library & Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, view the collection’s finding aid.