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About this collection

Japanese American Incarceration During World War II

In the wake of the bombing of Pearl Harbor and decades of discrimination against Asian Americans, President Roosevelt enacted Executive Order 9066 (EO 9066) on February 19, 1942.  This order followed the Department of Justice’s initial arrest of Japanese American community leaders and individuals deemed potential threats to national security.  Ultimately, EO 9066 led to the mass removal of nearly 120,000 Americans of Japanese descent from western Washington and Oregon, southern Arizona, and all of California.  This action by the government against Japanese Americans is often referred to as "internment."

 

Those removed from the West Coast were sent to incarceration camps (officially named Relocation Centers) located in remote and often inhospitable sections of the nation’s interior.  Many living in the camps worked on projects to improve local infrastructure or worked on land reclamation projects.  In addition, many provided farm labor at a time when the war effort taxed America’s resources.

 

In 1943, the U.S. military expanded the draft to the camp populations.  While many opposed military service based on the injustice of the West Coast exclusion, others felt it an opportunity to improve the standing of Japanese Americans in the eyes of other Americans.  In this way, the draft proved to be a source of pride and controversy amongst those incarcerated.

 

The War Relocation Authority, the agency governing the camps, attempted to decrease the population by encouraging resettlement to areas outside the restricted zones along the West Coast and southern Arizona starting in 1943.  Ultimately, the lifting of the West Coast ban in December 1944 served as the lynchpin to decreasing the population of the camps.  Between the summer of 1944 and the spring of 1946, all ten "relocation camps" run by the War Relocation Authority closed its doors.

 

This digital collection of materials related to the Japanese American incarceration revolves around a handful of collections donated by individuals and families closely tied to the internment experience.  The collections listed below compliment the George and Frank C. Hirahara Collection, which is comprised largely of photographs taken when the Hirahara family was interned at Heart Mountain Relocation Center in northwest Wyoming.

 

In addition to this collection, you may also want to view the WSU's online collection of photographs taken by George and Frank C. Hirahara, both of whom were incarcerated at Heart Mountain Relocation Center.

Tom Hide Collection

Tom (Terumi) Hide was incarcerated at Heart Mountain Relocation Center from 1942-1944.  His family was removed from Wapato, Washington (near Yakima) to the North Portland Assembly Center before moving on to Heart Mountain.  During those years, Hide graduated from Heart Mountain High School and worked in Lyman, Nebraska, where his family was assigned to serve as farm laborers.  Tom Hide’s older brother Makio (Mike) served in the military during World War II.  After graduating from Heart Mountain High School in 1944, Tom attended Washington State College from 1944-1948.  The materials posted online include photographs taken at Heart Mountain, Lyman, Nebraska, and Washington State College.  It also includes pamphlets about internment published during World War II.

Takeda Family Collection

The Takeda family was incarcerated at Heart Mountain Relocation Center from 1942-1943.  Prior to their removal from the West Coast, the Takeda family lived in Los Angeles, California.  In 1943, the Takeda’s were granted leave from Heart Mountain after Shiro Takeda was hired as an instructor at the U.S. Navy Japanese Language School in Boulder, Colorado.  The materials posted online include photographs taken at Heart Mountain and several documents collected in a scrapbook revolving around Shiro Takeda’s service to the United States during World War II.

Okubara Family Collection

The Okubara family was incarcerated at Granada Relocation Center, also known as Amache, (in southeast Colorado).  Prior to their removal from the West Coast, the Okubara family lived in Mill Valley, California.  Mokoto (Sam) Okubara served in the military from 1945-1952, serving as a language instructor in Postwar Japan.  The materials posted online include a suitcase Tora Okubara used at Granada Relocation Center.

George and Doris McIntyre Collection

George McIntyre supervised the motor pool for the Minidoka Relocation Center (in southern Idaho).  The materials posted online include several photos from Minidoka Relocation Center illustrating the labor involved in maintaining the camp.

Kenneth Nishiyori Collection

In 1942, the Nishiyori family was removed from their home on Vashon Island, Washington and sent to Pinedale Assembly Center in Central California before being sent to Tule Lake Relocation Center before being transferred to Heart Mountain Relocation Center. The materials posted online include the Quarterly Census for Heart Mountain dated March 31, 1944 and a series of menus from Tule Lake Relcoation Center.

Mari Tsuruyama Okumura Collection

In 1936 Tatsuya Tsuruyama arrived in Los Angeles, California. He returned to Japan in 1940 to marry Miyo Karubi. Later that year, the couple moved to San Jose, California, where their first son, Shigenobu, was born on July 3, 1941. On May 29, 1942, the Tsuruyamas were sent to Santa Anita, California as part of the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. There are currently no items from this collection online.

Terry Ishihara Collection

In 1942, the Ishiharas were sent to the Pinedale Assembly Center in Fresno, California as a result of Executive Order 9066, which ordered the removal of Japanese Americans from the West Coast. From Pinedale, the Ishiharas were sent to Tule Lake Relocation Center, where Terry attended Tri-State High School. There are currently no items from this collection online.

Mike Mackey Collection

The Mike Mackey Collection contains correspondence to and from individuals who were incarcerated at the Heart Mountain Relocation Center during World War II, and research materials related to the internment of Japanese Americans. This collection also contains videocassettes, the majority of which are from the 50th Anniversary Symposium on the history of Heart Mountain.

Fusataro Nakaya Collection

The Fusataro Nakaya Photographs contains a USB drive containing 6 photographs of Fusataro Nakaya, a Japanese American doctor incarcerated at Heart Mountain Relocation Center during World War II. Three of the photographs were taken at Heart Mountain.

Credits

Thanks to Lauren Loftis who performed the digitization and much of the metadata creation, Cindy Ellis who provided technical support with ContentDM, Trevor Bond, Greg Matthews, Mark O'English, and Doug Lambeth for their input and advice.  The project was funded by a grant from the National Park Service and supervised by Steve Bingo.

 

This material is based upon work assisted by a grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of the Interior.


This material received Federal financial assistance for the preservation and interpretation of U.S. confinement sites where Japanese Americans were detained during World War II. Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, as amended, the U.S. Department of the Interior prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability or age in its federally funded assisted projects. If you believe you have been discriminated against in any program, activity, or facility as described above, or if you desire further information, please write to:


Office of Equal Opportunity
National Park Service
1849 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20240

 

 
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