Blog post contributed by Taylor Wolford and Phillip MacDonald, Library Associates
In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, the Special Collections Research Center joins other institutions in paying tribute to the lived experiences of Asian American and Pacific Islanders. Curating and acquiring diverse collections are priorities for Special Collections, and several of our collections illustrate how underrepresented groups have enriched America’s history.
Currently, Special Collections is in the final stages of processing additions to the George Matsumoto Papers (MC 00042). Matsumoto was a Japanese-American architect and design professor at NC State University, and he is internationally recognized for his contributions to modernist architecture. During his time at the NC State University School of Design between 1948 and 1961, he won more than thirty awards for work on residential projects. His presence on campus is still visible today, as he designed an addition to Brooks Hall, the West Wing of D. H. Hill Library, and several fraternity houses.
Matsumoto was witness to countless social movements and injustices as a Japanese-American during World War II, and later as a resident of the South. He attended the University of California at Berkeley for architecture in the 1940s, but his education was disrupted by the relocation of Japanese-Americans during World War II. Following Executive Order 9066 enacted by President Franklin Roosevelt, the American government sent Matsumoto to the Poston War Relocation Center in Arizona, along with his family and thousands of other Asian Americans. Despite forced internment and racial discrimination, Matsumoto completed his undergraduate degree at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, and established a reputation as a leader of modernist architecture in the following decades.
Special Collections currently houses the George Matsumoto Papers, which includes related materials, such as blueprints, sketches, photographs, publications, and correspondence. We also house several oral history tapes interviewing Matsumoto about his career and personal life. For more information about Asian American history on campus, the North Carolina State University Oral Histories Collection (MC 00449) contains institutional histories from figures such as Paul Zia, one of the first Asian American professors in the College of Engineering. Additionally, Special Collections retains materials related to Asian American organizations on campus, such as the Asian Cultural Dance Team, the Asian Student Association, and Asian Fraternities in the Student Organization Resource Center Records (UA 016.059).
For more resources regarding Asian American history and related topics, search our digitized collections and archival collection guides. Research questions and/or requests for materials can be sent in using the Special Collections Request Form.