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Presentation on Eaton Collection at JAMsj

SAN JOSE — “No Longer Silent: Uncovering the Stories Behind the Eaton Artifacts” will be presented on Saturday, Feb. 18, at 1 p.m. at the Japanese American Museum of San Jose, 535 N. Fifth St. in San Jose Japantown.

Objects are often said to be “mute” witnesses to history. In this slide presentation, Nancy Ukai will explore some of the stories that she discovered in her research on objects in the Eaton Collection of Japanese American camp artifacts.

The items, which include barrack nameplates, furniture, paintings, photographs and carvings, were separated from the community for more than 70 years after they were collected by crafts scholar Allen H. Eaton in 1945 as the camps were closing. Eaton wanted to mount an exhibition but never did, and the objects, which were handed down to his daughter and then to a contractor’s family, came on the market for the first time in 2015.

After a nationwide protest by Japanese Americans, including JAMsj, who criticized private profiting off works that represented suffering and injustice, the auction was cancelled. The collection was later acquired by the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles.

The date of this lecture marks the day before the 75th anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066 on Feb. 19, 1942, as well as the 65th anniversary of the publication of Eaton’s book, “Beauty Behind Barbed Wire: The Arts of the Japanese in Our War Relocation Camps.”

Ukai is a writer and researcher based in Berkeley. After graduating from UC Santa Cruz, she lived in Japan for 14 years, working as a Fulbright English fellow, a weaving apprentice at a Buddhist temple, and as a journalist for Newsweek and the Asahi newspaper in Tokyo.

Free with admission to the museum (non-members, $5; students with valid ID and seniors over age 65, $3; JAMsj members and children 5 and under, free).

Seating is limited. Email or call (408) 294-3138 to reserve a spot. For more information, visit

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