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Identifier: WH1085

Scope and Contents

The collection spans 1860-2012 and primarily documents Bill Hosokawa’s post-World War II career working as a journalist, author, and diplomat in Denver, Colorado. Correspondence, memos, meeting minutes, research files, article and speech drafts, and book manuscripts compose the bulk of the collection and detail Hosokawa’s lifelong work to inform a wider audience about Japanese American history and culture.

In particular, the collection most strongly chronicles the incarceration of Japanese Americans to concentration camps during World War II and the subsequent redress movement that was forged by the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL); Hosokawa’s work as a freelance magazine writer, author of several books, and employee of the Denver Post, Pacific Citizen, and Rocky Mountain News; the planning efforts of the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation’s Board of Directors; and Hosokawa’s time serving as Honorary Consul General of Japan.

Materials consist of papers; book manuscripts and article drafts; audio and video cassettes, tapes, and discs; court documents; testimonial statements; photographic prints and negatives; and scrapbooks.


This series chronicles Bill Hosokawa’s involvement in the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), an Asian American civil rights organization. The organization’s activities at the national level, including its meetings, events, awards, and publications, are documented in the “National operations” subseries. The subseries “Districts and local chapters” captures primarily Hosokawa’s speaking engagements in JACL enclaves throughout the United States, as well his involvement with the local Denver chapter. Hosokawa’s 58-year affiliation with the JACL’s weekly newspaper, the Pacific Citizen, is detailed in correspondence, clippings, and drafts of his long-running column, “From the Frying Pan.”

The bulk of the series, however, documents the incarceration of Japanese Americans by the U.S. government during World War II, and includes the response of the organization prior to and during incarceration, as well as their post-World War II campaign for redress. Included in the series a re witness testimonial statements from hearings conducted by the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilian in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Chicago in 1981. These statements are organized according to hearing date and surname, and provide detailed information about the experiences of Japanese Americans who were incarcerated in concentration camps during World War II.

SERIES 2 JACL – BOOK PROJECTS [1869-1950], 1952-2002 BOX 5-8

The series is composed of the research files, correspondence, memos, meeting minutes, reports, oral history interview transcripts, and book manuscripts that Hosokawa amassed while contracted by the JACL to write Nisei: The Quiet Americans, East to America: A History of the Japanese in the United States, and JACL In Quest Of Justice. All projects were part of JACL’s effort to document the history of their organization and the greater Japanese American community. Materials have been arranged chronologically.

SERIES 3 WORLD WAR II 1941-2006 BOX 8-11

The series documents World War II in relation to its effects on Japanese Americans. Incarceration of Japanese Americans is broadly documented through pamphlets, bulletins, reports, clippings, and articles. A subseries on the Heart Mountain Relocation Center chronicles primarily the administration of the camp and includes correspondence and memos by War Relocation Authority Director Dillon S. Myer and Heart Mountain Relocation Center Director Guy Robertson. Bill Hosokawa’s search for sponsored employment while incarcerated at the center is also detailed in the subseries. A subseries on WWII military service by Japanese Americans relates mostly to the 442nd Regimental Combat Team of the United States Army, while the “National Japanese American Memorial Foundation” subseries chronicles the work of the Foundation’s Board of Directors and the writing and editing Hosokawa did for the foundation’s booklet, Perseverance, Patriotism, Posterity: The Story of the Japanese American National Memorial.

SERIES 4 JOURNALISM 1939-2008 BOX 12-17

In this series, Hosokawa’s journalism career is documented chronologically. The bulk of the series pertains to Hosokawa’s work freelance writing for magazines and newspapers, and his long career with the Denver Post. The series consists primarily of article drafts, correspondence, notebooks, and clippings. Also documented series are Hosokawa’s pre- and post-WWII employment searches; his participation in professional journalism organizations; the honors he received for his writing; his college-level teaching and consulting career; his ombudsman position at the Rocky Mountain News; and his involvement with two media-related lawsuits where he served as an expert witness.

SERIES 5 BOOK PROJECTS 1904-2006 BOX 17-20

This series contains primarily project files for books that Hosokawa authored and co-authored, including The Two Worlds of Jim Yoshida (1972); Thunder in the Rockies: The Incredible Denver Post (1976); Thirty-five Years in the Frying Pan (1978); They Call Me Moses Masaoka: An American Saga (1987); Old Man Thunder: Father of the Bullet Train (1997); Out of the Frying Pan (1998); and Colorado's Japanese Americans: From 1886 to the Present (2005). Materials include interview transcripts, correspondence, book manuscripts, clippings, articles, and contracts. The subseries documenting Thunder in the Rockies includes financial and legal records pertaining to Frederick and Helen Bonfils and the Bonfils Foundation. Also included in the series are several unpublished manuscripts written by Hosokawa and correspondence he received and sent while evaluating manuscripts for other authors.


This series documents Bill Hosokawa’s work to strengthen relations between the U.S. and Japan and to build awareness of Japanese American history and culture in the state of Colorado. The bulk of the material in the series relates to Hosokawa’s term serving as Honorary Consul General of Japan in Denver from 1975 through 1999 and contains mostly correspondence and memos relating to Japanese ambassador and royalty visits, sister city/state projects, and Governor Romer’s Colorado/Japan Task Force. The series also documents Hosokawa’s work as a well-known public speaker, a consultant for the Economic Development Association of Longmont (EDAL), and an adjunct professor for the University of Denver. A subseries entitled “Honors” features Hosokawa’s awards for his civil rights work.

SERIES 7 PERSONAL 1939-2012 BOX 24-25

This series chronicles Bill Hosokawa’s personal life, and includes correspondence, articles written about him, holiday cards, travel documents, intelligence reports, and appointment calendars. The “Hosokawa Family” subseries contains mostly research related to Tora Miyake, Hosokawa’s mother-in-law, who was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in 1942. A significant amount of the series is made up of general correspondence that Hosokawa received and sent, and is arranged alphabetically by surname. A subseries on posthumous memorials for Bill Hosokawa is also included.

SERIES 8 AUDIO-VISUAL MATERIAL [1941-1947], 1958-2006 AVBOX 1-2

This series documents Hosokawa’s work in radio and TV as a commentator, presenter, and interviewee, as well as his efforts conducting oral history interviews for use in his articles and books. The series also contains audio and video documentation of projects Hosokawa was involved in and the various organizational functions he attended. Videos Hosokawa collected on topics including World War II, the Japanese monarchy, and Governor Ralph Carr are also present. Materials include reel-to-reel audio tapes, audio cassettes, compact discs, video cassettes, and DVDs.

SERIES 9 PHOTOGRAPHS [1860-1920], 1936-2003 PHOTOBOX 1

This series is primarily composed of images Hosokawa obtained for use as illustrations in books including Nisei, East to America, and JACL In Quest Of Justice. Many of the images depict Japanese Americans during WWII and were acquired as copy prints from the National Archives, Library of Congress, War Relocation Authority, U.S. Army, and the Bancroft Library at the University of California-Berkeley. Additional subseries document the activities of the JACL, reunions and WWII memorials Hosokawa attended, and Hosokawa’s career working as a journalist, public speaker, and diplomat. Materials include negatives, slides, and photographic prints.


The series contains a scrapbook of Denver Post and Empire articles written by Bill Hosokawa in the early 1950s; a full-color issue of the Asahi Evening News; a report with maps showing the layout of several incarceration camps; and stone rubbings taken of the inscriptions on the Nisei War Memorial at Fairmount Cemetery in Denver.


  • 1860-2012


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.


All requests for permission to publish, reproduce, or quote from material in the collection should be discussed with the appropriate librarian or archivist. Permission for publication may be given on behalf of the Denver Public Library as the owner of the physical item. It is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained by the customer. The Library does not assume any responsibility for infringement of copyright or publication rights of the manuscript held by the writer, heirs, donors, or executors. Reproduction restrictions are decided on a case-by-case basis.

Biographical / Historical

William “Bill” Kumpei Hosokawa was born in Seattle, Washington, on January 30, 1915, to first-generation, Japanese American parents Setsugo and Kimiyo Hosokawa. The couple immigrated to the United States from a small village near Hiroshima, Japan, in 1899.

Bill Hosokawa graduated from Seattle’s Garfield High School in 1932. With ambitions of becoming a journalist, he worked part-time at the Japanese American Courier, a weekly Seattle newspaper, while attending the University of Washington. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism in 1937. After graduation, Hosokawa took a secretary position at the Japanese Consulate in Seattle, as he had difficulty finding employment in the field of journalism.

On August 28, 1938, Hosokawa married Alice T. Miyake (1917-1998) of Portland, Oregon. The couple went on to have four children together: Dr. Michael C. Hosokawa, Susan Hosokawa Boatright, Peter E. Hosokawa (1948-2007), and Christie Hosokawa Harveson. Shortly after marrying, the couple moved to Singapore, where Hosokawa worked as managing editor for the English language newspaper, the Singapore Herald. In 1940, sensing that political tensions in Singapore were increasing, Hosokawa’s pregnant wife returned to the U.S. to live with relatives. From 1940 to 1941, Hosokawa lived in Shanghai, China, and wrote for the Far Eastern Economic Review and Shanghai Times. He returned to Seattle in October 1941, just five weeks before the outbreak of war in the Pacific.

In Seattle, Hosokawa helped form the Japanese American Citizens League’s (JACL) Emergency Defense Council, a group that served as an intermediary between the local government and the area’s residents of Japanese descent. From 1941 to 1942, he served as Executive Secretary for the Seattle JACL.

When President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942, Hosokawa, his wife Alice, and their one-year-old son Michael prepared to be forcibly removed by the U.S. government to a temporary detention center. On May 15, 1942, they were sent by bus to fairgrounds in Puyallup, Washington. For three months, the Hosokawa family were incarcerated, along with 7,000 other inmates, in cabins divided into ten-foot living spaces. Hosokawa volunteered for the U.S. Army twice; once after the attack at Pearl Harbor and again while living at the Puyallup Detention Center in Washington. He was rejected both times.

In August 1942, the Hosokawa family was moved to a concentration camp, known as Heart Mountain Relocation Center, in Wyoming. While incarcerated there, Hosokawa edited a weekly newspaper called the Heart Mountain Sentinel, which was printed using the Cody Enterprise’s press. By autumn 1943, the War Relocation Authority began permitting persons with sponsors or leads on jobs to leave the concentration camps for communities throughout the Midwest. During an inspection tour of the Heart Mountain Relocation Center, Hosokawa met War Relocation Director Dillon S. Myer. Myer contacted Gardner Cowles, owner of the Des Moines Register, and recommended Hosokawa for employment at the newspaper. After 14 months at Heart Mountain, Hosokawa and his family moved to Des Moines, Iowa, where Hosokawa worked as a copy editor for the Des Moines Register until 1946.

In 1946, Hosokawa and his family moved to Denver so that he could begin work at the Denver Post. During his 37 years at the newspaper, Hosokawa held a variety of reportorial, editorial, and administrative positions, including copy editor, telegraph editor, make-up editor, Empire magazine editor, executive news editor, assistant managing editor, Sunday editor, columnist, and associate editor (1962-1976). From 1976 until 1983, the last seven years of his tenure, Hosokawa was the Denver Post’s editorial pages editor.

During the Korean and Vietnam wars, Hosokawa was sent to Asia as a correspondent for the Post and produced the “Post Writer at the War Front” and the “Far Eastern Report” news series. He was nominated for the Pulitzer Award in International Reporting for coverage of the Zengakuren student riots in Japan in 1961 and served as a juror for the award in 1968, 1970, 1975, 1976, and 1980.

In addition to the Denver Post, Hosokawa wrote the “From the Frying Pan” column and several editorials for the Japanese Citizen’s League weekly newspaper, Pacific Citizen, from 1942 until 2000. In the February 20, 1987 issue of the Pacific Citizen, Hosokawa explained that the “Out of the Frying Pan” column was named as such, “…because I had escaped from the fire of war in Asia to the frying pan of a concentration camp in my own country.”

Hosokawa also contributed articles to publications including Reader’s Digest (U.S. and Japan editions), Saturday Evening Post, American Legion, and the New York Times. He was a roving editor for Reader’s Digest (Japan edition) from 1984 through 1985, when the magazine ceased publication. From 1985-1992, Hosokawa served as ombudsman for the Rocky Mountain News, writing a weekly column addressing reader concerns about newspaper practices, ethics, and accountability. From the late 1980s through the early 2000s, he was a featured columnist for the Rocky Mountain Jiho and Rafu Shimpo.

In addition to being a journalist, Hosokawa taught journalism courses at the University of Colorado (1974-1976), University of Northern Colorado (1973-1975), and University of Wyoming (1985). He was active in several professional journalist and author organizations, acting as president of the American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors (1956), Colorado Authors’ League (1978-1979), and the Colorado Freedom of Information Council (1988-1990). Hosokawa was a member of the American Society of Newspaper Editors and served on several Society committees related to awards, ethics, and international relations. He was a board member for the Advisory Council of Technical Journalism at Colorado State University and the National Writers Club (1987-1993). Hosokawa served as a delegate to the Japanese American bilateral meeting of the International Press Institute in 1972, 1973, 1975, 1979, and 1981.

Hosokawa was commended for his work in the field of communications, and his honors included the JACL’s Nisei of the Biennium Award (1958); the University of Colorado’s Outstanding Journalist Award (1967); the National Cowboy Hall of Fame’s Western Heritage Award (1967); the American Jewish Committee’s Media Award (1976); Denver Press Club’s Colorado Communicator of the Year Award (1985); the Asian American Journalists Associations’ Pioneer Journalist Award (1988); and the Colorado Society of Professional Journalists’ Lowell Thomas Award (1990). Hosokawa was chosen to be featured on the Newseum’s News History Wall in 1997, and was inducted into the Denver Press Club’s Hall of Fame that same year. In 1998, he was inducted into the American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors’ Hall of Fame.

From 1965 to 1979, Hosokawa served on the Executive Board of the JACL’s Japanese American Research Project (JARP), a project co-founded with the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1962. Originally, the project was established to produce a scholarly publication on first-generation Japanese Americans, known as "Issei." The project, however, yielded two monographs; the first being Nisei: The Quiet Americans (1969). The book was initially met with controversy, as some JACLers believed its title perpetuated negative racial stereotypes of Japanese Americans. Despite the controversy, the title remained, the book was met with critical and commercial success, and its publisher, William Morrow and Company, issued a second edition in 1976. The University Press of Colorado published a revised version of Nisei in 1992 and 2002.

JARP produced a second book in 1980, called East to America: A History of the Japanese in the United States by Dr. Robert Arden Wilson and Bill Hosokawa. Although Dr. Wilson was originally charged with writing the manuscript, JARP hired Hosokawa in 1979 to take on the task of rewriting Wilson’s manuscript after the project became overrun with delays. Two years earlier, the JACL had contracted Hosokawa to write the story of the organization’s history as part of the Masao W. Satow Memorial Project. The project yielded JACL In Quest Of Justice, published in 1982.

Other books that Hosokawa authored include Thunder in the Rockies (1976), Thirty-five Years in the Frying Pan (1978), Old Man Thunder: Father of the Bullet Train (1997), Out of the Frying Pan (1998), and Colorado’s Japanese Americans: 1886 to the Present (2005). He co-authored books with Jim Yoshida (The Two Worlds of Jim Yoshida, 1972) and Mike Masaoka (They Call Me Moses Masaoka: An American Saga, 1987).

Hosokawa’s books and articles centered on the subject of Japanese Americans and the challenges they have faced, primarily focusing on the World War II era of incarceration and the community’s subsequent post-war civil rights movement. While Hosokawa was initially a critic of the redress movement of the 1970s—an effort to seek restitution for Japanese Americans who had been forced into incarceration camps during World War II—he became a supporter after the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians published their report, Personal Justice Denied, in 1983. The nine-member, federally-appointed commission investigated the circumstances surrounding Executive Order 9066 and conducted eleven hearings in ten U.S. cities from July to December 1981. Over 750 witnesses testified. The Commission’s findings became integral to passing the Civil Liberties Act of 1988. Under the Act, the Civil Liberties Public Education Fund was established, and wartime survivors were issued a formal apology and monetary recompense of $20,000.

Beginning in 1995, Hosokawa became involved in the planning process for the National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism During World War II in Washington, D.C. He served on the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation’s Board of Directors until 2002. Hosokawa largely wrote and edited Patriotism, Perseverance, Posterity: The Story of the National Japanese American Memorial for the Foundation and was consulted on the memorial’s inscriptions.

In addition to his involvement in Japanese American causes throughout his lifetime, Hosokawa worked to strengthen relations between Japan and the U.S. From 1974 to 1999, he served as Honorary Consul General of Japan in Denver. During this period, he contributed to several projects to bolster goodwill and commerce between Colorado and Japan, most notably with the Economic Development Association of Longmont (EDAL), Governor Romer’s Japan Task Force, and the Colorado-Yamagata Sister States Committee. Hosokawa co-founded the Japan America Society of Colorado in 1988. From 1986 to 1992, Hosokawa was a lecturer in Asian Affairs at the University of Denver, where he assisted with the development of a Japanese business and culture certificate program and the administration of the Understanding America exchange program. From 1985 to 1991, Hosokawa served on the Board of Trustees of the Iliff School of Theology.

Hosokawa’s diplomatic efforts were honored several times, most notably with the Order of the Rising Sun, Third Grade by the government of Japan (1987); an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from University of Denver (1990); the Institute of International Education’s World Citizen Award (1991), Denver’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Business Social Responsibility Award (1996); the University of Colorado-Denver’s Distinguished Service Award (1999); the American Civil Liberties Union’s Carl E. Whitehead Memorial Award (2000); and the Anti-Defamation League’s Civil Rights Award (2007).

Bill Hosokawa passed away at his daughter Christie’s home in Sequim, Washington, on November 9, 2007.


25 boxes (25 linear feet)

2 AVBoxes

1 PhotoBox

1 oversize box

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, Bill Hosokawa, 1985. Gift, Susan Boatright (Bill Hosokawa's daughter), 2009, 2013, and 2015.


Katie Rudolph

December 2015


Katie Rudolph

December 2016


Abby Hoverstock

November 2015
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Denver Public Library, Western History and Genealogy Repository

10 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy
Denver CO 80204 United States