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Guide to the Japanese-Americans in World War II Collection, 1920-1995 (bulk 1942-1944)
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • History
  • Scope and Content

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Japanese-Americans in World War II Collection,
    Date (inclusive): 1920-1995
    Date (bulk): (bulk 1942-1944)
    Extent: 1 linear foot
    Repository: Henry Madden Library (California State University, Fresno).

    Sanoian Special Collections Library.
    Fresno, California
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    Much of the collection was donated by Mrs. Roy V. Sowers in 1982.

    Access Restrictions

    The collection is open for research.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Japanese-Americans in World War II Collection, Sanoian Special Collections Library, California State University, Fresno.


    "During World War II all persons of Japanese ancestry on the U.S. West Coast were forcibly evacuated from their homes and relocated in inland detention centers as a result of mass hysteria following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The U.S. government claimed it was forced by public hysteria, agitation by the press and radio, and military pressure to establish the War Relocation Authority by executive order (March 18, 1942); this agency administered the mass evacuation.
    Under the jurisdiction of the Western Defense Command, during the spring and summer of 1942, 110,000 Japanese-Americans (including a number who were still aliens) were placed in 10 war relocation centres located in isolated areas from the Sierra Nevada to the Mississippi River. The sparsely furnished military barracks in these camps afforded meagre 'work opportunities' for adults and a minimal education for children. By the time the evacuation was complete, U.S. forces were largely in command of the Pacific and all danger of a possible Japanese invasion had passed. After individual screening at the centres to prove their loyalty, 17,600 Nisei (second-generation Japanese in the U.S.) were accepted for service in the U.S. forces; many of their units were later cited for bravery.
    Demands for redress for the losses and injury suffered by the evacuees during the war were met in 1988 when the U.S. government apologized for the internments and passed legislation providing partial monetary payments to the approximately 60,000 surviving Japanese-Americans who had been interned."
    The New Encyclopædia Britannica, 15th ed., s.v. "Nisei"

    Scope and Content

    The Japanese-Americans in World War II Collection measures 1 linear foot and dates from 1920 to 1995. The collection contains both contemporary and contemporaneous materials about the relocation of Japanese during World War II from the perspective of Japanese-Americans as well as that of the United States government. The collection is arranged in two series: Japanese-American perspective and Official government stance.
    In the Japanese-American perspective series (1920, 1942-1944, 1966, 1968, 1985-1995), there is a transcript of a broadcast by the University of California at Berkeley. It includes details of the treatment of Japanese-Americans during World War II and why the speaker believes that Japanese-Americans are a successful ethnic group.
    The correspondence relates primarily to the Alien Land Law. There is also a letter from a Nisei (second-generation Americans of Japanese ancestry) soldier to his father while in the sixth week of his Army basic training.
    The journal articles include both contemporary and contemporaneous articles from Quarterly of the National Archives, Journal of the West, and Asia and the Americas.
    The memoranda subseries contains many reports which describe the treatment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, both in the relocation centers and in society in general. The conditions of the relocation centers are described, and there is a report on Japanese-Americans in the United States Army and how they feel caught between two cultures.
    Of particular significance in the reports is "America's Japanese-American Problem," by Dr. Herbert B. Johnson of the University of California at Berkeley. Written in 1920, this report shows that discrimination against Japanese-Americans was apparent long before World War II.
    In the Official government stance series (1942-1944, 1962), there are hearings of the House Select Committee Investigating the National Defense Migration to study the "problems of evacuation of enemy aliens and others from prohibited military zones" (Box 2, Official government stance, Congress, Hearings, 1942). There is also a public law issued by Congress "to provide a penalty for violation of restrictions or orders with respect to persons entering, remaining in, leaving, or committing any act in military areas or zone" (Box 2, Official government stance, Congress, Pubic law, undated).
    The letter in the Pacific Coast Committee in the American Principles and Fair Play subseries gives details about the resettlement of Japanese-Americans to the relocation centers. The statements relate to rumors of sabotage in Hawaii eighteen months after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
    The executive orders issued by President Franklin Roosevelt provided for "the protection of essential facilities from sabotage and other destructive acts," and defined the functions and duties of the War Relocation Authority (Box 2, Official government stance, Roosevelt, Franklin, Executive Order 9066, 1942).
    The comments folder under the War Relocation Authority (WRA) contains replies to accusations made against the WRA by newspapers and the House Committee on Un-American Activities. The miscellaneous reports of the War Relocation Authority document the views of the War Department on Japanese-Americans returning to the Pacific Coast. There is a transcript of a conversation between the project director and the supply and transport officer of the Colorado River Relocation project, as well as many reports by Japanese-Americans on the deplorable conditions in the relocation centers.
    The WRA subseries also contains quarterly reports on the relocation centers, with particular attention to the Granada and Manzanar Relocation Centers. An account written by a community analyst examines the importance of the resettlement of Japanese-Americans back into society after their internment.
    The speeches of the Western Defense Command and Fourth Army describe the evacuation of Japanese-Americans from the Pacific Coast. There are various bulletins which include studies of the Japanese-American population and the number of family heads in Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington.
    There are also many original notices the Western Defense Command and Fourth Army posted around the West Coast. The civilian exclusion orders informed those of Japanese ancestry (including those born American citizens) of the areas they were to be excluded from in the United States. There was a penalty for non-compliance. The instructions state the time of evacuation and list items deemed necessary to take to the relocation camps, such as bedding, linen, and cutlery.