S. Frank Miyamoto


Name S. Frank Miyamoto
Born July 29 1912
Died November 7 2012
Generational Identifier

Nisei

Pioneering Nisei sociologist and field worker on the Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Study (JERS). Born in 1912 to Issei parents who had migrated from Miyazaki prefecture, Shotaro Frank Miyamoto (1912–2012) grew up in the Seattle area, though largely outside the Japanese American community. He entered the University of Washington in 1930 and, after a finance-related hiatus, graduated with a B.A. in sociology in 1936. He went on to the master's program, mentored by Jesse F. Steiner, the chairman of the sociology department. His master's thesis, published as "Social Solidarity among the Japanese in Seattle" in 1939, was the first academic publication by a Nisei social scientist and has became a highly influential study, republished twice. He went to the University of Chicago for doctoral studies, finishing his exams in 1941 and returning to Seattle to write his dissertation, while gaining a teaching position at the University of Washington through Steiner's influence.

World War II and the mass incarceration of West Coast Japanese Americans interrupted his plans and he and his new bride, piano prodigy Michiko Morita, were sent to Puyallup Assembly Center. On the strength of his published article, JERS director Dorothy Thomas recruited Miyamoto to join the JERS staff, which he accepted, becoming the only Nisei field worker in the camps with no ties to Berkeley. He conducted fieldwork for JERS at Puyallup, Tule Lake, and in resettlement era Chicago. He returned to Seattle in 1945 and resumed his position at the University of Washington. He completed his dissertation, which was now based on his Tule Lake research, in 1950.

Miyamoto remained at the University of Washington for the rest of his academic career. He became a full professor in 1963 and assumed chairmanship of the sociology department from 1966 to 1971 during a period of student unrest and the beginnings of ethnic studies programs. He became associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences in 1975 and acting dean of the college in 1978. He has authored numerous articles on aspects of the Japanese American experience, including assessments of his role with JERS.

Authored by Brian Niiya, Densho

Major Works by S. Frank Miyamoto on Japanese Americans and/or Wartime Incarceration

"Social Solidarity among the Japanese in Seattle." University of Washington Publications in the Social Sciences 11.2 (Dec. 1939): 57–130. Seattle: Asian American Studies Program, University of Washington, 1981. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1984.

"The Career of Intergroup Tensions: A Study of the Collective Adjustments of Evacuees to Crises at the Tule Lake Relocation Center." Ph.D. dissertation, University of Chicago, 1950.

"The Japanese Minority in the Pacific Northwest." Pacific Northwest Quarterly 54.4 (Oct. 1963): 143-49.

(with Robert W. O'Brien). "A Survey of Some Changes in the Seattle Japanese Community Since Evacuation." Research Studies of the State College of Washington 15 (1947): 147-54.

"An Immigrant Community in America." In East Across the Pacific: Historical and Sociological Studies of Japanese Immigration and Assimilation. Edited by Hilary Conroy and T. Scott Miyakawa. Santa Barbara, Calif.: American Bibliographical Center-Clio Press, 1972. 217-43.

"The Forced Evacuation of the Japanese Minority during World War II." Journal of Social Issues 29.2 (Spring 1973): 11-31.

"Problems of Interpersonal Style among the Nisei." Amerasia Journal 13.2 (1986-87): 29-45.

"Japanese in the United States." In Dictionary of Asian American History. Edited by Hyung Chan Kim. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1986. 7-12.

"Dorothy Swaine Thomas as Director of JERS: Some Personal Observations." In Views from Within: The Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Study. Edited by Yuji Ichioka. Los Angeles: Asian American Studies Center, University of California, Los Angeles, 1989. 31-63.

"Reminiscences of JERS." In Views from Within: The Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Study. Edited by Yuji Ichioka. Los Angeles: Asian American Studies Center, University of California, Los Angeles, 1989. 141-55.

"Resentment, Distrust, and Insecurity at Tule Lake." In Views from Within: The Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Study. Edited by Yuji Ichioka. Los Angeles: Asian American Studies Center, University of California, Los Angeles, 1989. 127-140.

For More Information

Densho interviews, S. Frank Miyamoto. Interviews by Stephen Fugita, February 26, March 18, and April 29, 1998 and by Alice Ito and Tatsuya Fukunaga, July 7–8, 2003.

Fugita, Steve. "S. Frank Miyamoto." In Distinguished Asian Americans: A Biographical Dictionary. Edited by Hyung-Chan Kim. New York: Greenwood Publishing Group, 1999. 250–51.

Miyamoto, S. Frank. "Reminiscences of JERS.” In Views from Within: The Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Study. Edited by Yuji Ichioka. Los Angeles: Asian American Studies Center, University of California, Los Angeles, 1989. 141-55.