On-line Book
Book Cover
Cover Page


Table of Contents





Brief History

Gila River


Heart Mountain







Tule Lake

Isolation Centers

Add'l Facilities

Assembly Centers

DoJ and US Army Facilities



Appendix A

Appendix B

Appendix C

Confinement and Ethnicity:
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An Overview of World War II
Japanese American Relocation Sites

by J. Burton, M. Farrell, F. Lord, and R. Lord

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Chapter 1
Sites of Shame: An Introduction

In 1942, almost 120,000 Japanese Americans were forced from their homes in California, western Oregon and Washington, and southern Arizona in the single largest forced relocation in U.S. history. Many would spend the next 3 years in one of ten "relocation centers" across the country run by the newly-formed War Relocation Authority (WRA). Others would be held in facilities run by the Department of Justice and the U.S. Army (Figure 1.1). Since all Japanese Americans on the west coast were affected, including the elderly, women, and children, Federal officials attempted to conduct the massive incarceration in a humane manner (Figure 1.2). However, by the time the last internees were released in 1946, the Japanese Americans had lost homes and businesses estimated to be worth, in 1999 values, 4 to 5 billion dollars. Deleterious effects on Japanese American individuals, their families, and their communities, were immeasurable.

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Figure 1.1. Sites in the western U.S. associated with the
relocation of Japanese Americans during World War II.

(click image for larger size (~75K) )

government photo with armed military police
Figure 1.2. In this obviously posed government photograph armed military police lend a helping hand, Manzanar 1942.
(National Archives photograph)
During World War II the relocation was justified as a "military necessity." However, some 40 years later, the United States government conceded that the relocation was based on racial bias rather than on any true threat to national security. President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 which provided redress for Japanese Americans. The following year President George Bush issued a formal apology from the U.S. government. Many histories describe the political, economic, legal, and social aspects of the relocation (see, for example CWRIC 1982, Daniels 1989; Daniels et al. 1991; Irons 1983, 1989; Spicer et al. 1969.). This report, in contrast, provides an overview of the physical remains left at the sites of the Japanese American relocation. The main focus is on the architectural remnants, the archeological features, and the artifacts remaining at the relocation centers themselves, although other sites where Japanese americans were held during World War II are also considered.

One of the relocation centers, Manzanar, was designated a National Historic Site in 1992 to "provide for the protection and interpretation of historic, cultural, and natural resources associated with the relocation of Japanese Americans during World War II" (Public Law 102-248). But there are nine other relocation centers, and numerous other facilities associated with the relocation and internment. Most of the Japanese Americans were first sent to one of 17 temporary "Assembly Centers," where they awaited shipment to a more permanent relocation center. Most of those relocated were American citizens by birth. Many were long-term U.S. residents, but not citizens, because of discriminatory naturalization laws. Thousands of these "aliens" were interned in Department of Justice and U.S. Army facilities.

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