Gallery Walk of the Japanese American Incarceration

Take a Digital Tour

Study the Japanese American incarceration in more depth by examining collections of primary source documents. Explore all seven exhibits and take notes for reflection.

Gallery Exhibits:
Exhibit B
Exhibit B
Map of Prison Camps
Exhibit A
Exclusion_Order_posted_at_First_and_Fron
Exhibit A

Eviction Poster

Exhibit C
389761_772520d3da714bdfa4e75e8aa1415a2am
Exhibit C
Photos of the Forced Removal
Exhibit D
Photos of Life in the Prison Camps
Exhibit D
Exhibit G
Exhibit G
Leave-Related Documents
Exhibit F
Exhibit F
Memorandum from Delos Emmons
Exhibit E
Exhibit E
Front Page of the Heart Mountain Sentinel

Introduction
Learn more about the Japanese American incarceration through a gallery walk activity. Examine all seven exhibits, responding to the prompts at the bottom of each exhibit.

Note that in many of the captioned photos, there will be quotation marks placed around out-of-date terminology that was used during that time.

 
Gallery Exhibit A:
Eviction Poster in San Francisco

Context

On February 19, 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which authorized the government to designate military areas “from which any or all persons may be excluded.”

 

Two weeks later, Army General John DeWitt designated the West Coast as a military exclusion area.¹

Soon thereafter, eviction posters began appearing in neighborhoods across the West Coast. These posters informed the local Japanese residents that they would be evicted from their homes and gave them specific instructions on what they needed to do in the days ahead.

 

The poster you are about to examine appeared in a neighborhood in San Francisco, California.

 

EVICTION POSTER.jpg

Questions

  1. Describe the document. What kind of document is it? When was it created, and by whom? Who is its intended audience?
     

  2. Fact-finding:

    • How much time were residents given to prepare for eviction?

    • What items did people need to take with them? What was the stated limit on the amount of belongings people could take?

    • How freely could Japanese American residents move around San Francisco?

    • What assistance could people seek from the Civil Control Station?
       

  3. What does this document reveal about the experience of Japanese Americans during World War II? What have you learned?
     

  4. What questions did this document raise for you? (i.e., What lingering questions do you have?)

  1. “Internment of Japanese Americans,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internment_of_Japanese_Americans#Exclusion,_removal,_and_detention [31 July 2020].

References

Map published online in 2000 by the National Park Service.

Gallery Exhibit B:
Map of Prison Camps

Context


During World War II, about 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry were forcibly removed from their homes and placed in different kinds of government-operated facilities.

 

Collectively, these facilities have often been informally called “internment camps,” though scholars have advocated the use of less euphemistic terms such as “concentration camps.”

The different kinds of camps were run by different entities, including the Department of Justice and the U.S. Army. However, there were two types of prison camps that held the majority of Japanese Americans:

 

  • Assembly Centers” were hastily built facilities used in 1942–43 to temporarily house inmates while permanent Relocation Centers were constructed. They were operated by the Wartime Civilian Control Administration (WCCA).
     

  • “Relocation Centers” were the 10 permanent camps in which the vast majority of people were eventually incarcerated. They were operated by the War Relocation Authority (WRA).
     

Questions

  1. Describe the document. What kind of document is it? When was it created, and by whom? Who is its intended audience?
     

  2. Study and interpret the document. What observations do you make? (e.g., What does the bold black line signify? Where were most camps located? What is the difference in geographic distribution between Assembly Centers and Relocation Centers? etc.)
     

  3. What does this document reveal about the experience of Japanese Americans during World War II? What have you learned?
     

  4. What questions did this document raise for you? (i.e., What lingering questions do you have?)

 

Gallery Exhibit C:
Photos of the Forced Removal

Context

In 1942, the U.S. government forcibly relocated about 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast to prison camps. This process took several months, with communities evicted one after another.

 

Once they received an eviction order, residents had a few days to choose and pack their most precious belongings, try to sell everything else (sometimes including homes, cars, and businesses), and prepare for eviction.

Photographers Clem Albers and Dorothea Lange worked for the War Relocation Authority, and photographer Russell Lee worked for the Office of War Information.
 

 

Gallery Exhibit D:
Photos of Life in the Prison Camps