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The late Mitsugi Kasai spent years collecting photos documenting the history of Japanese American families who settled in Utah and other parts of the West.

His dedication to that task will be honored Wednesday night during a reception at the University of Utah's J. Willard Marriott Library, whose special collections department is now home to the Mitsugi M. Kasai Memorial Japanese American Archive.

Open to the public, the reception will begin at 6:30 p.m. on the fourth level of the library. Retired Judge Raymond Uno will be a featured speaker. Directions are available at lib.utah.edu/info/directions.php.

Kasai, who died in 2012, grew up on a family farm in Idaho but moved to Utah after World War II. His brother served in the U.S. Army during the war, and Kasai later had a 30-year career as a military intelligence officer. Kasai felt Japanese Americans deserved to be "recognized for their patriotism and service to their country," said Lorraine Murakami Crouse, a multimedia archivist in special collections.

So Kasai began collecting photographs and other records of the Japanese American experience. The archive that now bears his name contains letters, photos, journals, oral histories and films about Salt Lake City's "Japan Town;" the 442nd Regimental Combat Team that fought with distinction during WWII; the relocation of Japanese Americans to internment camps in barren areas of Utah and Idaho; and the establishment of the Japanese Buddhist and Christian churches.

"When I look at some of the images in the archive," said Murakami Crouse, "I feel indebted to those who have contributed their family photos and memorabilia because now we have a remarkable collection documenting the Japanese American experience."

The celebration of the archive also included a lecture over the weekend by Lily Havey, author of "Gasa Gasa Girl Goes to Camp: A Nisei Youth behind a WWII Fence."

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To learn more

O More information about the Japanese American archive is available at http://lib.utah.edu/info/kasai.php.

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