Scope and Content
Title: Japanese-Americans in World War II Collection,
Date (inclusive): 1920-1995
Date (bulk): (bulk 1942-1944)
Extent: 1 linear foot
Henry Madden Library (California State University, Fresno).
Sanoian Special Collections Library.
Much of the collection was donated by Mrs. Roy V. Sowers in 1982.
The collection is open for research.
[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
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.
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.
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.
journal articles include both contemporary and
contemporaneous articles from
Quarterly of the National Archives,
Journal of the West, and
Asia and the Americas.
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.
Official government stance series (1942-1944, 1962),
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,
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
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.