Gallery Walk of the Japanese-American Incarceration

Take a Digital Tour

Study the Japanese-American incarceration in more depth, by clicking on the exhibits below.  Explore all seven exhibits and take notes for reflection.

Download this activity as a PDF

Open as a Google Doc

Procedures

To allow students an opportunity to study the Japanese-American incarceration in more depth, ask students to view Gallery Walk of the Japanese-American Incarceration, a digital gallery of primary source documents (also reproduced below for reference).

Instruct students to explore the gallery with a pencil and notebook (or several sheets of folder paper) in hand, examining all seven exhibits and taking notes on each. With the remaining class time, divide students into small groups to debrief the activity using the questions below.

Questions
 

What did you learn about the Japanese-American incarceration?


What most surprised you?


In what specific ways were citizens’ constitutional rights curtailed during this time? 


What lessons can be learned from this chapter of history? 

Exhibit A

Eviction Poster

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


a.    How much time were residents given to prepare for eviction?
b.    What items did evacuees need to take with them? What was the stated limit on the amount of belongings evacuees could take?
c.    How freely could Japanese residents move around San Francisco?
d.    What assistance could evacuees 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?)

 

Go to next exhibit  
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 camp 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).
 

map relocation.png

Map published online in 2000 by the National Park Service, online at https://www.nps.gov/parkhistory/online_books/anthropology74/ce1.htm. Via Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain.

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?)
 

 

Go to next exhibit  
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.
 

 

San Francisco, California. March 29, 1942.  
Residents of Japanese ancestry are closing their businesses in preparation of the forthcoming eviction.  Photograph by Clem Albers.

San Francisco, California. April 27, 1942.
Residents of Japanese ancestry registering prior to eviction. Photograph by Clem Albers.

Arcadia, California. April 5, 1942.
Persons of Japanese ancestry arrive at the Santa Anita Assembly Center from San Pedro, California. Evacuees lived at this center located at the former Santa Anita race track before being moved inland to Relocation Centers.  Photograph by Clem Albers.

April of 1942.

A young evacuee of Japanese ancestry waits with the family baggage before leaving by bus for an Assembly Center in the spring of 1942.
Photographer unknown.

Los Angeles (vicinity), California. May 1942. 

Baggage of Japanese Americans evacuated from certain West Coast areas under United States Army war emergency order, who have arrived at a reception center at a racetrack. Photograph by Russell Lee.

Hayward, California. May 8, 1942. 

Members of the Mochida family awaiting evacuation bus. Identification tags were used to aid in keeping the family unit intact during all phases of evacuation. Mochida operated a nursery and five greenhouses on a two-acre site in Eden Township. Photograph by Dorothea Lange. 

Questions

  1. Describe the documents. What kind of documents are these? When were they created, and by whom? Who is their intended audience?
     

  2. Examine the documents closely. What observations do you make?
     

  3. What do these documents reveal about the experience of Japanese Americans during World War II? What have you learned?
     

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

 

Go to next exhibit  
Gallery Exhibit D:
Photos of Life in the Prison Camps

Context

In 1942, the U.S. government forcibly relocated about 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast to prison camps around the nation. Most were eventually incarcerated in one of 10 Relocation Centers run by the War Relocation Authority. Although they were forced to adjust to a completely new environment and lifestyle, they tried to preserve as many aspects of normal life as possible.

Photographers Clem Albers, Dorothea Lange, Francis Stewart, and Tom Parker worked for the War Relocation Authority. Photographer Toyo Miyatake was an inmate in Manzanar Relocation Center who at first took photos of camp life in secret using smuggled camera equipment, which were contraband. Later, when restrictions were loosened, he became the official camp photographer. [2]

 

Manzanar Relocation Center, Manzanar, California. July 3, 1942.   

Dust storm at this War Relocation Authority center where evacuees of Japanese ancestry are spending the duration.
Photograph by Dorothea Lange. 

Manzanar, California. April 2, 1942. 
Mealtime at the Manzanar Relocation Center. Photograph by Clem Albers.

​Tule Lake Relocation Center, Newell, California. November 3, 1942. 
Low fifth grade pupils and their teacher, Mrs. Rhoda McGarve, outside their barracks school room. Photograph by Francis Stewart.

Rohwer Relocation Center, Arkansas. November, 1942.
A Judo class. Classes were held every afternoon and evening at this Relocation Center. Photograph by Tom Parker.

Manzanar California, 1944. 

Boys Behind Barbed Wire Behind Manzanar's barbed wire enclosure near Lone Pine (Norito Takamoto, Albert Masaichi, and Hisashi Sansui), by Toyo Miyatake.

Santa Ania, California, 1944.

A crowd of Japanese Americans stand behind a barbed wire fence waving to departing friends on train leaving Santa Anita, California on their way to more permanent camps at Manzanar. Photo by Julian F. Fowlkes.

Questions

1. Describe the documents. What kind of documents are they? When were they created, and by whom? Who is their intended audience? What is their intended purpose? 
 

2. What were the reasons these leaves were granted? For what lengths of time were they valid?” 

3.    What do these documents reveal about the experience of Japanese Americans during World War II? What have you learned?

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

Go to next exhibit  
Gallery
Exhibit E:

Front Page of the Heart Mountain Sentinel

Context

 

Heart Mountain Relocation Center, located about 14 miles northeast of Cody, Wyoming, was one of the 10 facilities run by the War Relocation Authority during World War II to incarcerate people of Japanese ancestry. At maximum capacity, 10,767 inmates were imprisoned there.  [3]

Like at other Relocation Centers, the inmates of Heart Mountain began to publish their own internal newspaper, the Heart Mountain Sentinel. You will now view the front page of the Sentinel’s very first edition.

The Heart Mountain Sentinel

heart mountain newspaper.jpg

Questions

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


2.    Examine the document. In particular, read the sections entitled “Editorial” and “First Copies Sent Roosevelt, Myer.” What does this document reveal about the circumstances, cares, and concerns of Heart Mountain’s residents?


3.    What have you learned from this document? What, if anything, surprised you?


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

Go to next exhibit  

Context

After Japan bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the U.S. government immediately declared war on Japan. At the same time, it declared martial law in Hawaii. Civilian courts were closed, and the military assumed control of the government. Army Lt. Gen. Delos Emmons became Hawaii’s military governor, overseeing many aspects of resident life. [4]

With the country now at war with Japan, many U.S. government and military leaders became suspicious of the loyalties of the ethnic Japanese population in the United States. On the West Coast, this suspicion ultimately led to the summary incarceration of about 120,000 people, most of whom were Americans by birth. Although there were calls for a similar mass incarceration in Hawaii, these calls never came to fruition. 

You will now read a memorandum from Emmons to the Assistant Secretary of War regarding a previous report the Secretary received about Hawaii’s Japanese population. Emmons refers to U.S. Attorney Angus Taylor, an outspoken advocate for mass incarceration.
 

Thick smoke rolls out of a burning ship during the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese on
Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941. 

 

Memorandum from Emmons to the Assistant Secretary of War 

confidential_edited.jpg

- Page 2 -

confidential 2_edited_edited.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.    What is the author’s intended purpose? What message is he trying to convey, and what arguments does he use to make his point? 


3.    What have you learned from this document?


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

Go to next exhibit  

Context

Starting in 1942, the U.S. government incarcerated people of Japanese ancestry en masse. However, as time wore on, the government began loosening some restrictions on inmates and eventually began allowing some people to leave camp for certain reasons, and for certain periods of time—ranging from a few hours to a few years (e.g., to attend college) and even indefinitely.

 

Below are three different leave-related documents.

Pass for in and out privileges at Manzanar. 1943.    

Manzanar, California. Courtesy of Manzanar National Historic Site and the Shinjo Nagatomi Collection. CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license.

Citizen’s Short-Term Leave notice, 1944. 
Rohwer Relocation Center, Arkansas. Courtesy of the Kuroishi Family Collection. 

​Citizen’s Indefinite Leave Card. 1943. Hunt, Idaho. 
Mae Hara’s Indefinite Leave Card allowed her to leave Minidoka concentration camp and move to Chicago, Illinois with her husband, Iwao. While in Chicago she worked with the American Friends Field Service as a Social Worker. Courtesy of Mae Hara Collection. CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license.

Questions