Elizabeth M. Humbargar


Name Elizabeth M. Humbargar
Born July 4 1903
Died July 9 1989
Birth Location Kansas

Educator and humanitarian. Raised in Salina, Kansas, Elizabeth Humbargar (1903–89) and her sister Catherine (1901–96) became teachers and moved to California in the 1920s, both ended up at Stockton High School in the 1930s, where she taught English and her sister math. Drawn to the Asian American students, Elizabeth became the faculty adviser of the 400-member Japanese American student club and encouraged and cajoled many Nisei to pursue college. When local Japanese Americans were forcibly sent to the Stockton Assembly Center, the Humbargar sisters worked to make sure their students were able to continue their educations, recruiting college students to teach classes there, venturing to the camp every day after school to counsel the student teachers and provide curricular materials and spare textbooks. After the inmates were transferred to the more permanent concentration camp in Rohwer, Arkansas, the sisters remained in touch and wrote an estimated 500 letters of recommendation to facilitate resettlement, college admission, and employment of their friends and former students. When Japanese Americans were allowed to return to Stockton in 1945, they opened their homes to serve as temporary lodging for former students and their families. Elizabeth helped to reestablish the local Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) chapter and remained active in the community after the war. She went on to become a pioneering figure in English as a second language teaching and taught and served as a guidance counselor at San Joaquin Delta College, retiring in 1969. She was honored with an endowed JACL scholarship in her name, awarding the first scholarship in the amount of $500 herself in June 1970.[1] She was also honored by the Japanese government (1978) and by San Joaquin County (1981).[2] In 2012, San Joaquin Delta College established the Elizabeth Humbargar Tolerance Garden and the Elizabeth Humbargar Counseling Center.

Authored by Brian Niiya, Densho

For More Information

Breitler, Alex. "Freedom Fighter." Stockton Record, April 9, 2012.

"Our Voice: Elizabeth Humbargar Memorial Garden Dedication." 30 minute video, 2012.

Siegel, Shizue. In Good Conscience: Supporting Japanese Americans During the Internment. San Mateo, Calif.: AACP, Inc., 2006.

Footnotes

  1. Pacific Citizen, June 26, 1970, p. 3.
  2. Pacific Citizen, Feb. 27, 1981, 5–6.