Old Glory! Flying at Manzanar

August 30, 2014

It’s just a photo from World War II, the U.S. flag, flying against some California mountains.

It’s from Manzanar, the camp where Japanese Americans were detained during the war.

What words would be appropriate?

Dorothea Lange photo of the U.S. flag, flying at Manzanar, July 3, 1942.  Via Wikimedia.

Dorothea Lange photo of the U.S. flag, flying at Manzanar, July 3, 1942. Via Wikimedia. “Scene of barrack homes at this War Relocation Authority Center for evacuees of Japanese ancestry. A hot windstorm brings dust from the surrounding desert.” Public domain.

Many more than a thousand words there.

American Education Week, November 7-13 (1943) – locked up in Manzanar

November 8, 2011

Education Week poster at Manzanar War Relocation Center, 1943 - Ansel Adams, Library of Congress

"A woman prepares a sign promoting American Education Week by attaching it to the wall of the Education Department office." Photo by Ansel Adams, 1943, at Manzanar War Relocation Center - Library of Congress collections

Just an ironic blast from the past, an Ansel Adams photograph of an interned American citizen of Japanese descent, putting up a poster celebrating “American Education Week,” at the Manzanar War Relocation Center, California.  Photo details:

  • Title: Education week sign / photograph by Ansel Adams.
  • Creator(s): Adams, Ansel, 1902-1984, photographer
  • Date Created/Published: [1943]
  • Medium: 1 photographic print : gelatin silver.
    1 negative : nitrate.
  • Summary: A woman prepares a sign promoting American Education Week by attaching it to the wall of the Education Department office.
  • Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-ppprs-00417 (b&w digital file from original print) LC-DIG-ppprs-00158 (b&w digital file from original neg.) LC-A35-T01-6-M-6 (b&w film dup. neg.)
  • Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.
  • Call Number: LOT 10479-7, no. 20 [P&P]
  • Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA
  • Notes:
    • Title transcribed from Ansel Adams’ caption on verso of print.
    • Original neg. no.: LC-A35-6-M-6.
    • Gift; Ansel Adams; 1965-1968.
    • Forms part of: Manzanar War Relocation Center photographs.

Vintage film on Japanese internment during World War II

May 20, 2009

[Google Video version is not showing or playing for reasons I don’t know; fortunately the National Archives (NARA) has uploaded a version to YouTube]

“A Challenge to Democracy,” by the War Relocation Board.  This film defends the relocation of 100,000 Japanese Americans during World War II.

Japanese-descended American citizens harvesting crops they grew during internment during World War II. Screen capture from "Challege to Democracy."

Japanese-descended American citizens harvesting crops they grew during internment during World War II. Screen capture from “Challege to Democracy.”

“These people are not under suspicion,” the narrator says.  “They are not prisoners, they are not internees.  They are merely dislocated people, the unwounded casualties of war.”

According to the Internet Archive, the film is a 1944 production.  That site has the film available for download in several formats.  The film is collected in the Prelinger Archives.  On my computer, some of the Internet Archive versions offer  better quality than the Google Video version above.

I originally found the film at a school site in Washington, Mr. Talmadge’s Wikispace site, apparently for his classes in the history of the State of Washington.  That site has a very useful series of links to good sites on the internet for information about the Japanese internment.  There are several other topics noted there, too, including the Chinese Exclusion Act, the Whitman Massacre in Oregon, and the Nez Perce Retreat.  I’d love to see Mr. Talmadge’s plan for the year.

What do your students do to display their work on the internet?

Query to historians: Material on German-American Internment in WWII?

June 14, 2008

Historians, help me out: What do you know about the internment of German Americans and Italian Americans during World War II?

The website of the German-American Internee Coalition lists several sources, and it has a lengthy set of lesson plans (too much for use in Texas, I fear). Is this information accurate? Has anyone used it in a classroom, and can you tell us your experience? Is there a mention of this in your world history or U.S. history text?

Please respond in comments.

Gate and guard tower at Fort Lincoln, ND, intern site for German-Americans and othersPhoto: At sunset, the gate and guard tower at Fort Lincoln, North Dakota, where German-Americans and Japanese-Americans were interned during World War II. From the John Christgau Collection of photos; courtesy the site at the German-American Internee Coalition (GAIC).

World War II in Texas: Japanese internment

July 23, 2007

Girl Scouts at Japanese Doll Day celebration, in Crystal City, Texas, internment center, 1943-45

“Girl Scout drama presentation for Hinamatsuri (Doll’s Festival), on Japanese Girl’s Day, at the Crystal City, Texas, internment facility operated by the Justice Department, 1943-45.

Each of us has pockets of ignorance; some of the pockets are larger than others.

How did I miss that there were Japanese-American internees in Texas? If I stumbled across that fact before, it really didn’t register. Reviewing the website for the University of Texas – San Antonio’s Institute of Texas Cultures, I came across the Spring 2007 Newsletter, which is dedicated to the Crystal City internment facility.

Crystal City is unknown to many other Texans, too, I wager. Study of a list of the War Department “Relocation” camps shows nothing in Texas. Surprise! The U.S. Justice Department also operated camps of interned Americans of Japanese descent. The War Department rounded up Japanese Americans in west coast states and their neighbors; the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization Services, the old INS which was rolled into the Department of Homeland Security after the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, arrested and detained Japanese-Americans from the rest of the United States. INS operated at least four such camps in Texas. Read the rest of this entry »

Japanese-American internment: Statesman-Journal web special

June 29, 2007

Looking for good sources on Japanese internment?

Editor & Publisher highlights the web version of a special series on Japanese internment during World War II, put together by the Statesman-Journal in Salem, Oregon. The series is featured in “Pauline’s Picks,” a feature by Pauline Millard showing off the best use of the web by old-line print publications.

Beyond Barbed Wire, photo by Salem Statesman-Journal

The Statesman-Journal’s web piece is “Beyond Barbed Wire,” featuring timelines, maps of the Tule Lake internment facility (closest to Oregon), stories about Japanese Americans in Oregon, especially in Salem, photos, video interviews, and a significant collection of original documents perfectly suited for document-based studies.

Texas kids test particularly badly in this part of U.S. history. Several districts ask U.S. history teachers and other social studies groups to shore up student knowledge in the area to overcome gaps pointed out in testing in the past three years, on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS). In teacher training, I’ve noted a lot of Texas social studies teachers are a bit shaky on the history.

The Korematsu decision was drummed into my conscious working on civil rights issues at the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee, and complemented by Constitutional Law (thank you, Mary Cheh) and other courses I was taking at the same time at George Washington University. It helped that Utah has a significant Japanese population and had “hosted” one of the internment camps; one of my tasks was to be sure committee Chairman Orrin Hatch was up on issues and concerns when he met with Japanese descendants in his constituencies in Utah. Hatch was a cosponsor of the bills to study the internment, and then to apologize to Japanese Americans affected, and pay reparations.
The internment was also a sore spot with my father, G. Paul Darrell, who witnessed the rounding up of American citizens in California. Many of those arrested were his friends, business associates and acquaintances. Those events formed a standard against which he measured almost all other claims of civil rights violations.

Because children were imprisoned with their parents, because a lot of teenagers were imprisoned, this chunk of American history strikes particular sympathetic chords with students of any conscience.  Dorothea Lange’s having photographed some of the events and places, as well as Ansel Adams and others, also leaves a rich pictorial history.

(I found this thanks to the RSS feed of headlines from Editor & Publisher at the Scholars & Rogues site.)

Nimitz party follow-up

February 25, 2007

So, how was the party in Fredricksburg?  Admiral Nimitz did not put in an appearance, from all accounts.

Can you imagine some of the possibilities for study in small groups at the National Museum of the Pacific War?

Among other things, the Nimitz Hotel has been renovated (founded by Adm. Nimitz’s grandfather).

What’s there?

The site has grown into a 34,000-square-foot site featuring indoor exhibit space. Located on six acres now, the center includes the George Bush Gallery, the Admiral Nimitz Museum, the Plaza of the Presidents, the Veterans’ Walk of Honor and Memorial Wall, the Japanese Garden of Peace, the Pacific Combat Zone and the Center for Pacific War Studies.

With the conclusion of this large renovation project that began in 2004, museum coordinators are turning their attentions to another big project. An additional 40,000-square-foot expansion is planned in the future, with ground-breaking set this spring.

I can’t find, but I hope that, the renovations include space for scholars to study, and especially for high school students to learn.  Austin-area high schools would be lining up to make overnight field trips — but for the restrictions put on teaching and learning by Texas’ testing system, the limiting list of Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), and the test, the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) .

Maybe teacher training.  Liberty FundBill of Rights Institute?  Are you guys watching this?

Eugene, Oregon’s Japanese internment memorial

February 22, 2007

11th grade history courses should be finishing up with World War II about now. If the course covered the material planned, it included a discussion of the internment of Japanese-Americans in the U.S. during World War II. The discussion should have included questions about whether the internment was just, and whether the reparations paid and apology made later by the U.S. government adequately compensated the victim internees.

Eugene, Oregon, hosted a “civic control station” where Japanese-Americans were forced to register. Most were later sent to internment camps — from Oregon, many were sent to Tule Lake, California. Oregonians, especially those who were interned and their families, are working to honor the internees and pass on the stories of the events. They want to highlight the fact that many of the interned citizens served gallantly during the war.

A memorial is being built in Eugene, featuring a statue of a young Japanese American girl sitting atop her luggage on the way to internment, reaching for a butterfly.

Below the fold I copy the editorial from the Eugene Register-Guard about the memorial — I’ve taken the liberty of copying the entire piece, as well as including a link (free subscription required). If the Register-Guard wishes I not promote their work this way, they know where to find me. It’s a good editorial on important issues, and it deserves broader circulation and preservation.

Read the rest of this entry »

Sources for Japanese internment history

December 14, 2006

A reader graciously pointed the way to a very good source of information about the Japanese internment, especially on video, in comments to my earlier post about the book on Dorothea Lange’s photos of internment events.

Shay Witt suggested we look to the Japanese American National Museum.  In addition to exhibits, the museum store offers several VHS and DVD products that should be good for classroom use.  Witt specifically mentioned the award-winning documentary “Something Strong Within.”  That film is now available on DVD, in a compilation disc.

Tests tend to show that students are unfamiliar with this history.  It is particularly salient today, with our nation once again at war and imprisoning people unaccused of any particular acts.

Carnival of History #43

November 15, 2006

History Carnival 43 is up at Axis of Evel Knievel.  Well, over there they call it “History Carnival XLIII,” but there’s not much Roman history involved.

Without pointing to too many posts, let me just urge you to go take a look.  The Carnival lists many good posts, listing history and talking about history.  You’ll do well to see for yourself.

I also want to thank D at the Axis of Evel Knievel for the link to the post on this blog about the newly released collection of Dorothea Lange’s photos of the Japanese internment in the U.S. during World War II.  The book, and the issue, deserve a wide audience.  Especially among Texas high school kids, whose tests show they need to know more about the Japanese internment, and World War II in general.  Especially, they need to know more before they march off to war, or march off to court to defend systems that allow our government to summarily imprison people who are otherwise peaceful.

Lange photos of Japanese internment show a different light

November 7, 2006

Unpublished photos of the internment of U.S. citizens of Japanese ancestry during World War II were found in the National Archives.

Japanese Americans line up at Tanforan Assembly Center

Dorothea Lange took the photos, but they were forgotten in the archives — they did not show the view that the government wanted to be shown, some speculate, and so were not widely disseminated.

The pictures are being published for the first time, in Impounded:  Dorothea Lange and the Censored Images of Japanese American Internment (W. W. Norton).

The New York Times carried some of the photos and a story about the book.

Lange, who died in 1965, showed families who had abandoned their homes and property. Because they couldn’t bring their belongings with them, they were often forced to sell them to speculators at reduced prices. In harrowing images that uncomfortably echo the Nazi round-ups of Jews in Europe, Lange’s photographs document long, weaving lines of well-dressed people, numbered tags around their necks, patiently waiting to be processed and sent to unknown destinations.

“There is no way to really know how much they lost,” Mr. Okihiro said in an interview, but he cited a 1983 study commissioned by a Congressional committee estimating that, adjusted for inflation and interest, internees had lost $2.5 billion to $6.2 billion in property and entitlements. Mr. Okihiro writes that one man, Ichiro Shimoda, was so distraught he tried to commit suicide by biting off his own tongue. When that failed, he tried to asphyxiate himself. Finally he climbed a camp fence, and a guard shot him to death.

Another man, Kokubo Takara, died after being forced to stand in line in the rain as a disciplinary measure at Sand Island in Hawaii. At assembly points in Hawaii, Mr. Okihiro writes, some detainees were forced to strip naked and had their body cavities searched.

Upon arrival at the assembly centers — including the Tanforan Assembly Center in San Bruno, Calif., a former racetrack — the internees passed through two lines of soldiers with bayonets trained on them. Lange was not allowed to photograph the soldiers, but she did manage some stark images of the horse stalls where the families lived, pictures that are included in the book.

Topaz – monument to lack of civil rights

September 6, 2006

National history standards for high school U.S. history courses say kids should demonstrate knowledge about the internment of Americans of Japanese ancestry during World War II, under Executive Order 9066 in February 1942. Results from Texas’ TAKS test show that most students are not meeting the standards of knowledge.

I found an interesting presentation of photographs and audio interviews hidden away at the Salt Lake Tribune’s website. It is simply titled “Topaz” after the name of the internment camp outside of Delta, Utah.

My mother’s family lived outside of Delta, in Hinckley, Utah, for several years before 1930. It is not a pleasant place to be held captive, she said.

Utah’s Japanese population is quite large, now, and held considerable influence in the 1970s and 1980s when I was active in politics in Utah. Utah’s Japanese community sought the support of Sen. Orrin Hatch for an investigation into the violation of the civil rights of people interned during World War II, and Hatch cosponsored the bill to investigate, and then to pay reparations to victims and survivors of victims.

Some wag at the copy desk of the Provo Daily Herald took sport with our press releases; whenever we’d put “internment” in a headline, they would change it to “burial,” so that “Hatch supports probe of Japanese internment” became “Hatch supports Japanese burial probe.” I didn’t see significant humor in it, but the jest continued through the life of the investigation.

Congress passed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 appropriating money to compensate victims. President Bill Clinton signed the official apology from the United States on October 1, 1993.

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