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Finding aid for the Afton Dill Nance Papers, 1942-1981
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This is a collection of roughly 265-300 letters written by Japanese American students who were incarcerated in American concentration camps, including Heart Mountain, Wyoming and Poston, Arizona during World War II and all addressed to their pre-war teacher, Ms. Afton Dill Nance. Also included in this collection are pictures of Ms. Nance and her students, probably taken in the late 1970s to early 1980s. Ms. Nance taught English and Social Studies at Malaga Cove School in Palos Verdes, California shortly before the war. The student letter writers range from 12 to 15 years of age and most of the letters are written by Paul Kusuda from 1942-47. The letters range in topic from saying goodbye as one student informs Ms. Nance of her family's intent to repatriate back to Japan to a disillusioned teenage boy who talks of the recent Manzanar riots to teenage girls talking of their leisure activities and studies in camp, and resettlement outside of the camps.
Ms. Afton Dill Nance was born in Idaho Falls, Idaho on December 8, 1901. She spent her childhood living on her family's ranch and with her grandmother in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. She graduated from Long Beach High School and studied at Mills College, receiving her graduate degree in education from the University of California, Los Angeles. Shortly before the war, Ms. Nance taught 3rd through 8th grade in Manhattan Beach and Palos Verdes and also served as principal of an elementary school in Palos Verdes (possibly Malaga Cove, but could also be Miraleste School). During World War II, Ms. Nance was actively involved in the Friends of the American Way, an organization working in conjunction with the Friends Service Committee to protest the evacuation of Japanese Americans.
1 linear feet
All requests for permission to publish, reproduce, or quote from materials in this collection must be submitted to the Hirasaki National Resource Center at the Japanese American National Museum (collections@janm.org).
By appointment only. Please Contact the Collections Management and Access Unit by email (collections@janm.org) or telephone (213-830-5615).