Biographical / Historical
On December 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and the United States went to war. On February 19, 1942, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 authorizing the military to exclude "any and all persons" from designated areas of the United States to protect the national defense. Thus, without the imposition of martial law, the military were given authority over the civilian population.
Under this order, nearly 120,000 men, women and children of Japanese ancestry, nearly two thirds of who were United States citizens, were forced out of their homes and into detention camps in isolated areas of the west. Many of them spent the years of the war living under armed guards, and behind barbed wire. Children spent their school days in the camps, young men left to volunteer or be drafted for military service. The War Relocation Authority administered the camps.
This collection of documentary materials relates to the involuntary relocation of Japanese Americans was collected by the Division of Armed Forces History in connection with the exhibit A More Perfect Union: Japanese Americans and the United States Constitution at the National Museum of American History in 1988. The donors either were members of the Japanese American Citizens League or reached through the League. Interesting and revealing information is available about a few of the donors. They were primarily teenagers or young adults at the time of the relocation and the materials in the collection reflect their interests and concerns. Juichi Kamikawa, who had completed a year of college in Fresno, California, graduated from the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, D.C. after the war and became a respected artist. His family record is one of distinction in both Japan and the United States for several generations. Masuichi Kamikawa, his father, received the Order of the Sacred Treasure from the Japanese Emperor for outstanding contributions to the cultural heritage of Japan. Among achievements cited were his work in merchandizing and banking in Fresno, California. Mary Tsukamoto is one of the contributors to the video conversations in the exhibit. She is a retired teacher who was 27 years old in 1942 and a long time resident of Florin, California. Along with her entire family, she was sent to the center at Jerome, Arkansas. Mabel Rose Vogel taught high school at one of the camps, Rowher Center, Arkansas.