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Iwao Ishino papers

Identifier: UA-17.348

Scope and Content

The Iwao Ishino papers contain both personal and professional materials. There is also a small of amount of material relating to Mary Kobayashi Ishino.

Personal materials include photographs of his family as well as school and U.S. Army entrance documents. Professional materials include memos, notes, correspondence, reports and publications relating to his career.

The collection files are arranged in roughly chronological order. Ishino had originally organized them chronologically. MSU Archives has maintained that arrangement as much as possible. Ishino had assembled the original documents together but often went back later and included notes and articles from a later time frame. Thus folders might contain early materials as well as later materials that Ishino included.

The subject files are grouped at the end and listed alphabetically. They contain material Ishino collected on Executive Order 9066, the internment of Japanese Americans, Japan, and Japanese Americans.

The collection also contains photos and slides of Ishino's family, school and army time, and work in Japan. The photos of Japan include both Ishino and his family as well as photos Ishino took of Japan both in his capacity as a researcher as well as tourist. The collection also includes lantern slides of New Mexico showing Native American people, housing and dwellings and landscapes. It is possibly Ishino used these during his work at the U.S. Bureau of Sociological Research with Alexander Leighton who was conducting research on the Navajo.

The collection also includes video tapes and dvds including home videos and productions on internment. There are also audio tapes of meetings, lectures and family.


  • Creation: 1933 - 2010


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish material from this collection must be obtained from University Archives & Historical Collections, Michigan State University.

Biographical Note

Iwao Ishino was born on March 10, 1921 in San Diego, California. He was born to parents who had emigrated from Japan. Ishino entered San Diego State University in 1938 majoring in business and economics. He was forced to leave school by U.S. Executive Order 9066 (February 12, 1942) which ordered Japanese Americans into internment camps. Ishino and his family were sent to the Poston Relocation Center on the Colorado River Indian Reservation in Poston, Arizona. Ishino was confined from August 1942 to September 1943. During his internment, Ishino was recruited to conduct research for the U.S. Bureau of Sociological Research. He studied the management of people in the internment camps with Alexander Leighton and received training in public opinon research methods and anthropology.

In 1944, Leighton brought Ishino to Washington, D.C. to work as an analyst in the Office of War Information. It was during this time that Ishino was reintroduced to Mary Kobayashi who had also been interned at Poston. They were married in June 1944. Through his work at Poston and Washington, D.C. he became interested in anthropology and was encouraged to apply to graduate school at Harvard University. He was admitted in 1947. In 1949, Ishino went to work for the Public Opinion and Sociological Research Division as an analyst studying post-war Japan. In 1951, Ishino surveyed public opinion in Okinawa regarding independence from Japan.

In 1952, Ishino became a research fellow at the Ohio State University and then became an assistant professor in 1953. In 1956, Ishino came to Michigan State University. From 1958 to 1959 he received a Fulbright scholarship to study at the Research Institute of Cultural Anthropology at the University of Tokyo and studied rural communities. From 1963 to 1965 he served as the Chief of Party with the MSU Ryukyus Project at the University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa. Ishino also served as chair of the anthropology department at MSU from 1969 to 1973. In 1973, he became the director of the anthropology department of the National Science Foundation. He returned to MSU and from 1975-1981 served as assistant Dean for International Studies and Programs and Director of the Institute for Comparative and Area Studies. In 1979, he received a grant from the Ministry of Education in Japan to be a visiting scholar at the Museum of Ethnology in Osaka.

Ishino retired from Michigan State University in 1991. He then worked as a consultant for the MSU School of Labor and Industrial Relations and, from 1992-1995, directed the Work Practices Diffusion Team. Throughout his life Ishino studied and educated others about the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Iwao and Mary had four daughters. Mary was an active participant in local activities and organizations and was accomplished in the art of ikebana flower arranging. Iwao Ishino died on February 29, 2012. Mary Kobayashi Ishino passed away July 19, 2015.


20 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials



Legal Status

Donor(s) have transferred any applicable copyright to Michigan State University but the collection may contain third-party materials for which copyright was not transferred. Copyright restrictions may apply. Property Rights: Michigan State University.

Language Note

Some of the materials are in Japanese.

Iwao Ishino papers
4 Published And Cataloged
May 2017
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the University Archives and Historical Collections Repository

Conrad Hall
943 Conrad Road, Room 101
East Lansing MI 48824 US