Many Issei (first-generation Japanese immigrants) began as sharecroppers. Others sought to buy land, but the Issei had to overcome obstacles preventing them from competing with white farmers. California and other states passed alien land laws prohibiting Asian immigrants from purchasing or leasing agricultural land. There were ways around the discriminatory laws: an Issei father could put the property in the name of his American-born child, or issei could form corporations in which a majority of the shareholders were American citizens. Despite the alien land laws, Issei farmers played a significant role in West Coast agriculture. In the years just prior to World War II, Japanese American families grew 35 percent of the produce in California. By the 1920s, Japanese Americans supplied 75 percent of the produce and half the milk to the Puget Sound region.

Industry and employment (482)
Agriculture (769)

Related articles from the Densho Encyclopedia :
Seabrook Farms


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769 items
Hand-drawn map of prewar Auburn, Washington (ddr-densho-25-99)
doc Hand-drawn map of prewar Auburn, Washington (ddr-densho-25-99)
This map was drawn by Mae Iseri Yamada. It shows some of the Japanese-owned farms in the Auburn area before World War II.
Agreement to lease land (ddr-densho-25-92)
doc Agreement to lease land (ddr-densho-25-92)
This agreement to lease land was signed by A. J. Charleston and Matahichi Iseri. In the early 1900s, many states, led by California, enacted alien land laws. These laws aimed at Issei farmers prevented ownership of land by "aliens ineligible for citizenship." As a result, many Issei leased land from white farmers. In 1920, California enacted …
Four men at Mitarai Farm (ddr-densho-463-164)
img Four men at Mitarai Farm (ddr-densho-463-164)
Written beside photograph on scrapbook page: Emie, Roy, Hobaru, George [likely George Komoto]; Taken at Mitarai Farm; October 1944; Richfield, Utah.
Mother and son in front of trucks (ddr-densho-60-2)
img Mother and son in front of trucks (ddr-densho-60-2)
Rick Sato's mother and son. On the left is a packing shed.
Wagon with berry crates for shipping (ddr-densho-18-29)
img Wagon with berry crates for shipping (ddr-densho-18-29)
Wagon filled with berry crates at the Northern Pacific Railroad depot.
Transplanting produce in hotbeds (ddr-densho-18-57)
img Transplanting produce in hotbeds (ddr-densho-18-57)
When farm areas were flooded, it was sometimes necessary to transfer produce, as shown here.