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My First 100 Years: The Memoirs of Nellie Nakamura from 1902-2002

Released: November, 2019

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6/24/2019 (updated 2019 postage).

My First Hundred Years brings Japanese American history alive through the saga of an ordinary family swept by tides of change on both sides of the Pacific. Nellie's strong-minded mother, Rui Suzuki, was born in 1868, at the start of Japan's Meiji Restoration. As a young woman she left an untenable family situation and travelled the world with Nellie Hill, a New England spinster. After returning to Japan she immigrated to California, with stays in San Francisco, Merced and the Santa Clara Valley. In addition to traditional immigrant trades as housekeeping and farm labor, she was a midwife, translator, and community activist.

Rui's daughter, Nellie, inherited her mother's spunk and venturesome spirit. She left the farm and moved to Los Angeles with her husband, Harry. After Pearl Harbor her family was incarcerated at Heart Mountain, WY. In middle age Nellie finally achieved some financial security. Nellie rises to each challenge with humor and grace, and lived a full life before she passed away at age 107.

This family memoir is largely in Nellie's own words; editor Shizue Seigel also paints the wider historical context family traditions and changes in Meiji-era Japan, turn-of-the-20th century America; immigrants' experience getting started in a new land, encounters with racism and Alien Land Laws; farming practice, the Depression, World War II incarceration, and Resettlement.

Based on interviews with Nellie Nakamura and the Nakamura family conducted by Chris Kobayashi, Margaret Emmy Cooper, and Shizue Seigel. Supplemented by writings by Chris Kobayashi, Margaret Emmy Cooper, and Shizue Seigel. Illustrated with more than 100 photos and documents, and a family tree.


This memoir was first published privately in 2002 as "A Century of Change: The Memoirs of Nellie Yae Sumiye Nakamura."


My First Hundred Years:
The Memoirs of Nelie Nakamura from 1902-2002

Edited by Shizue Seigel
Pease Press, ©2019
Paperback, 197 pages, with 100+ b/w images
8.5 x 11 inches, 1.75 lbs
ISBN: 978-0-9904173-8-5


1/13/2020