Frank and his family were incarcerated at a Japanese relocation camp in Heart Mountain, Wyoming during WWII. His father George built a secret darkroom under their barrack apartment 15-9-A where they could develop and process film and photographs, and take studio portraits. He and his father took over 2,000 photographs in Heart Mountain, the largest private collection of photos taken there, from 1943 to 1945, when he was a high school student.
Frank C. Hirahara, who died in 2006, was a highly honored aerospace engineer, Lt. Governor of Zone 1 of the Pacific Southeast District of Optimist International, President of the Suburban Optimist Club, Board Member of the Anaheim Memorial Medical Center, and a charter member of the Anaheim Family YMCA Heritage Club. An accomplished photographer, his family's Anaheim story and their contributions in Southern California, in the United States, and in Japan, are presented in this unique Japanese American digital collection, which is the only four generational family in the Anaheim Heritage Center Collection.
As Frank's daughter Patti, an Anaheim High School graduate, carries the story forward, the Hirahara photos, artifacts, and documents are now helping to tell the Japanese-American story in collections curated throughout the United States. and back to Japan. The family's photos have been utilized in documentaries that have been screened and shown on television, the San Diego world premiere of the musical "Allegiance" bound for Broadway, the creation of three family exhibits, as well as having a family artifact on display at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.The Anaheim Heritage Center collection recounts the family’s Southern California story, beginning in 1955, when the aerospace boom in Southern California prompted Frank to move his family to Anaheim.