40 Families Project Photo Collection


In the early 1900s, when the Palos Verdes Peninsula was mainly ranch land, Japanese farmers began cultivating about 2000 coastal acres, which stretched from Malaga Cove to Western Avenue. Using special dry farming methods with crops that flourished in moist air conditions, these farmers played a significant role in providing vegetables for California dinner tables, as well as garbanzo beans for worldwide markets.

On November 24, 1923, approximately 40 first generation Japanese families gathered to commemorate the completion of a community building which would be used for meetings, language classes, judo lessons, and social events. The celebration was captured in a large photograph, which hangs in the Local History Center.

The 40 Families History Project began as an effort to discover the names of these families, and to put the children with the right parents. Publicity about the Project brought descendants to the Library who recognized grandparents, supplied initial information, and shared family photos. Public records such as the 1920 and ’30 federal censuses, online immigration databases, and the National Archives Internee Files added more information. Conversations with relatives and neighbors gradually fleshed out the paper records.

After identifying about 120 of the 187 faces on the photograph, suddenly knowing just the names was not enough. The Project expanded to learning more about the people themselves: Where did they come from? What brought them here? What was life like for them? Where were they sent during the war? Did they return to the Peninsula afterward? As more information was collected, separate files about each family were constructed.

A ride past these 2000 acres of today’s Peninsula coastline, with its sumptuous homes, Terranea Resort, and Trump Golf Club, gives no indication of the former wide open space where rolling slopes, dotted here and there with farmhouses, looked directly out to the sea.

The original stated mission of the 40 Families Project was “to preserve the soon-to-be-forgotten history of the Peninsula’s Japanese American settlement to educate future generations.” New advances in technology and the dedication of local history researchers are helping to accomplish that mission. The Project remains vibrant and on-going, and any additional stories, pictures, memories, or documents relating to these people are welcomed.

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"1923 November 24 San Pedro Grower's Association Community Hall Opening, Port...
"1923 November 24 San Pedro Grower's Association Community Hall Opening, Port...
Image shows view of a group of mostly Japanese and Japanese American men, women and children standing in front of a women structure with several additional wooden structures and hills visible in the distance. The photo commemorates the completion of the San Pedro Grower's Association community buildings, a collection of at least three structures used by Japanese farming families who farmed the Peninsula starting in the early 1900s and continued until the breakout of WWII. The buildings were used for meetings, language classes, judo lessons, and social events. After the WWII, very few of the original farming families returned to the Peninsula. The buildings fell into disrepair over time and were eventually demolished by fire in the early 2000s. The photo is the basis for the Local History Center's "40 Families Project", a project to identify the approximately 187 people in the image., Title translated from Japanese.
"Colorado River Relocation Center, Poston, Arizona. Left to Right: Mr. and Mrs....
"Colorado River Relocation Center, Poston, Arizona. Left to Right: Mr. and Mrs....
Image shows view of a group of three women and two men standing in front of an automobile with a crowd of people behind them. Partially visible in the background are wooden structures and a telephone pole. Identified from left to right are: [unidentified], Mrs. Tom Yanai, Mr. Tom Yanai, Mr. Tom Takamatsu and Mrs. Takamatsu., Library has digital image only, courtesy of the National Archives., National Archives Identifier:537295., Originally from Series: Central Photographic File of the War Relocation Authority, 1942 - 1945, Record Group 210: Records of the War Relocation Authority, 1941 - 1989., Title taken from National Archives. Full title: "Colorado River Relocation Center, Poston, Arizona. Left to Right: Mr. and Mrs. Tom Yanai of Poston, Tom Takamatsu and Mrs. Takamatsu of Manzanar, ready to board the Rivers bound bus for first lap of trip to Japan via Gripsholm. Mr. and Mrs. Yanai, however returned to Poston."
"Junior Red Cross Representatives Council 1943-1944, Poston II High School"
"Junior Red Cross Representatives Council 1943-1944, Poston II High School"
Image shows framed photo depicting group of Japanese American boys and girls in an outdoor setting at Poston II High School. A Caucasian woman is standing on the third row from the bottom at the far right., Library has digital image only, courtesy of Hideko Shono.
"Laguna Beach, July 3, 1932"
"Laguna Beach, July 3, 1932"
Image shows Hatashita family at center gathered around a picnic blanket on a dirt-covered slope. Some children and adults are wearing caps. Visible in the foreground are plants, bushes, and at left, a partial view of the front of an automobile. Scattered houses, utility poles, and matured trees are visible in the background. Handwritten at bottom in blue ink is "Laguna Beach, July 3, 1932.", Library has digital image only, courtesy of Diane Takenaga.
"Ole [OLD] Junko in Person"
"Ole [OLD] Junko in Person"
Image shows framed photo depicting a young woman with her hair under a kerchief pictured from the side, and in front of a bench and bucket. Houses are visible at right and left and in the distance. A woodpile is visible to the right. Hideko Shono received the photo from her friend Junko while Junko was in Jerome, Arkansas. Hideko Shono and Junko lived near each in San Pedro prior to being sent to camp. Photo inscribed in black ink in the top left corner "To: Hideko" and "Love Junko" at bottom right., Library has digital image only, courtesy of Hideko Shono.
"Palos Verdes Palos Verdes No. 8 Sakabe Method [?Cutting] Seminar Commemoration...
"Palos Verdes Palos Verdes No. 8 Sakabe Method [?Cutting] Seminar Commemoration...
Image shows group of women in western-style clothing standing in front of the single-story wood structure of the Palos Verdes Nihongo Gakuen school building. A sign in Japanese inscribed in white ink in the upper right-hand corner reads: "Palos Verdes Palos Verdes No. 8 Sakabe Method [?Cutting] Seminar Commemoration 1938. 9.3"., Library has digital image only, courtesy of Mutsuo Hirose., Title translated from Japanese.
"Palos Verdes farm"
"Palos Verdes farm"
Image shows view of pea fields in Palos Verdes. Visible are an instrument shelter at Weather Station E to collect meterological data and a man on a crate-like stand looking into the station., Library has digital image only, courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library., Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection Identifier:00047180., Title taken from the Los Angeles Public Library., Originally from the Security Pacific National Bank Collection., Image also included in Vanderlip Family Photo collection: https://palosverdeshistory.org/islandora/object/pvld%3A7471.
"Palos Verdes seinenkai dojo rakuseishikiten Nagaoka kyudan kangei judo taikai"...
"Palos Verdes seinenkai dojo rakuseishikiten Nagaoka kyudan kangei judo taikai"...
Image shows group portrait of men and boys in front of the single-story wooden structure with American and Japanese flags hanging at the entrance. The young boys are in white judo uniforms and the men are mostly in suits. Identified at center, wearing a kimono and dark jacket and a moustache is Hideichi Nagaoka (aka Shuichi Nagaoka). To the right of Hideichi Nagaoka is Toshitaka Yamauchi, the head judo instructor. Sadahei Hirose is in the fourth row (from front to back), second from the right. Ninth belt Hideichi Nagaoka was an invited guest at the first Youth Judo competition, an event held to commemorate the opening of the Youth Judo Club in Palos Verdes., Library has digital image only, courtesy of Mutsuo Hirose., Hideichi Nagaoka contributed to the development of Kodokan judo.
"Palos Verdes seinenkai dojo rakuseishikiten Nagaoka kyudan kangei judo taikai"...
"Palos Verdes seinenkai dojo rakuseishikiten Nagaoka kyudan kangei judo taikai"...
Image shows group portrait of men, women and children in front of the single-story wooden structure with American and Japanese flags hanging at the entrance. Many of the young boys are wearing white judo uniforms. Identified at center, wearing a kimono and dark jacket and a moustache is Hideichi Nagaoka (aka Shuichi Nagaoka). To his right is Sadahei Hirose wearing a dark suit. Wearing a light colored suit directly to the right of Sadahei Hirose is Toshitaka Yamauchi, head judo instructor. Setsuzo Ota, assistant judo instructor, is seated to the left of Hideichi Nagaoka. Ninth belt Hideichi Nagaoka was an invited guest at the first Youth Judo competition, an event held to commemorate the opening of the Youth Judo Club in Palos Verdes., Library has digital image only, courtesy of Mutsuo Hirose., Hideichi Nagaoka was a well-known judo instructor of Kodokan, and Toshitaka Yamauchi taught judo in the Gardena area in the 1930s.
"Palos Verdes"
"Palos Verdes"
Image shows view looking north from Portuguese Bend. Visible are several farmhouses and mature trees in the center. Hills are visible in the background., Library has digital image only, courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library., Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection Identifier:00023074., Title taken from the Los Angeles Public Library., Originally from the Security Pacific National Bank Collection.
"Palos Verdes"
"Palos Verdes"
Image shows aerial view of Frank Vanderlip residence at center with hills in the background., Library has digital image only, courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library., Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection Identifier:00023082., Title and description taken from the Los Angeles Public Library., Originally from the Security Pacific National Bank Collection.
"Palos Verdes"
"Palos Verdes"
Images shows aerial view of the Palos Verdes Peninsula looking north. Terraced cliffs and coastlines are visible in the foreground., Library has digital image only, courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library., Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection Identifier:00023088., Title taken from the Los Angeles Public Library., Originally from the Security Pacific National Bank Collection.

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