OVERVIEW OF THE COLLECTION
Japanese American Documentary Collection
2 cubic feet, 5 boxes, 1 oversize folder
Processed by Robert S. Harding and Grace Angle, 1988; revised D. Haberstich, 2/1/89; revised J. Ravenscraft, 6/12/92 ; Revised Alison Oswald, 2012.
December 7, 1941 the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and the United States went to
war. On February 19, 1942 President
Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 authorizing the military
to exclude "any and all persons" from designated areas of the United
States to protect the national defense. Thus,
without the imposition of martial law, the military were given authority over
the civilian population.
this order nearly 120,000 men, women and children of Japanese ancestry, nearly
two thirds of whom were United States citizens, were forced out of their homes
and into detention camps in isolated areas of the west.
Many of them spent the years of the war living under armed guards, and
behind barbed wire. Children spent their school days in the camps, young men left
to volunteer or be drafted for military service. The camps were administered by
the War Relocation Authority.
This collection of documentary materials relates to the involuntary relocation of Japanese Americans was collected by the Division of Armed Forces History in connection with the exhibit "A More Perfect Union: Japanese Americans and the United States Constitution" at the National Museum of American History in 1988. The donors were either members of the Japanese American Citizens League or reached through the League. Interesting and revealing information is available about a few of the donors. They were primarily teenagers or young adults at the time of the relocation and the materials in the collection reflect their interests and concerns. Juichi Kamikawa, who had completed a year of college in Fresno, California, graduated from the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, D.C. after the war and became a respected artist. His family record is one of distinction in both Japan and the United States for several generations. Masuichi Kamikawa, his father, received the Order of the Sacred Treasure from the Japanese Emperor for outstanding contributions to the cultural heritage of Japan. Among achievements cited were his work in merchandizing and banking in Fresno, California. Mary Tsukamoto is one of the contributors to the video conversations in the exhibit. She is a retired teacher who was 27 years old in 1942 and a long time resident of Florin, California. Along with her entire family she was sent to the center at Jerome, Arkansas. Mabel Rose Vogel taught high school at one of the camps, Rowher Center, Arkansas
Scope and Content
collection is an assortment of souvenirs and memorabilia which have survived the
years since World War II. Many of
them, Christmas cards, high school graduation programs, notes to friends,
snapshots, and photoprints in the form of dance programs reflect the interests
and concerns of all teenagers. There
are camp newsletters and Japanese passports, identification cards, ration books,
meal passes, posters, a photograph album contains both family photographs and a
record of achievements of members of the Kamikawa family.
There is a transcript of a taped interview with Mrs. Kamikawa, who was
nearly 90 in February 1982, the time of the interview.
A book, Lone Heart Mountain by Estelle Ishigo, portrays in text
and sketches life in the relocation centers.
Some materials in Japanese.
Donated by a number of Japanese Americans, many of whom are members of the Japanese American Citizens League, headquartered in San Francisco. This material was acquired for inclusion in the exhibition, A More Perfect Union, described above, but was not placed on display for one reason or another. In certain instances, items in this collection were omitted from the exhibit if they were considered too fragile or too sensitive to prolonged exposure to light.
Transferred from the Division of Armed Forces History to the Archives Center, June
One photograph of the Amache High School Class was added in 2005; one
One photograph of the Amache High School Class was added in 2005; onebook titled Minidoka Interlude, published by the residents of Mindoka Relocation Camp, Hunt, Idaho was added in 2006; and newsletters from internment camps in Arkansas and California were added in 2010.
Division of Armed Forces History have additional documents collected for
the exhibit, "A More Perfect Union." Another
collection on this topic in the Archives Center is AC0450, the Gerald
Lampoley Collection of Japanese American Letters, 1942-1943, a collection of six
letters written by Japanese Americans to their former teacher.
Researchers may also refer to the records of the War Relocation
Authority, Record Group 210, or those of the United States Commands, 1947-,
Record Group 338, in the National Archives.
The National Headquarters of the Japanese American Citizens
League in San Francisco, California, and the Japanese American National Museum
in Los Angeles, California, maintain related collections.