Letters to the Editor

Collectors preserve our heritage

With regard to the article on the Rago sale of Japanese American interment artwork: I sympathize with those who argue that their family’s history is being improperly sold and even agree with them when it comes to the question of provenance. However, the comments became emotional and drifted off topic: “The few objects that remain are priceless and selling them is trafficking in our people’s history.” This just ain’t so.

My wife’s parents were both Nisei (second generation) Japanese Americans. I spoke with my late father-in-law about internment a number of times. For him, and probably many others, Internment was something he wished to forget. He’d discarded most of his camp mementos.

A Sansei (third generation) friend of mine was interned as a teen. He’s actively collected items relating to internment for decades, and would plead guilty to “trafficking in other people’s memories.” I’m glad that he has.

When an item of family history is for sale, descendants need to remember that some memorabilia only survives because there is collectible market for it. Collection is a form of preservation, and given that the interests of collectors can be decades ahead of museums, our heritage would be poorer without them.

David DeLaurant