Historic Resource Study/Special History Study
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EDUCATION (continued)

Adult Education Program

Following the outbreak of violence at Manzanar on December 6, 1942, the adult education program was reorganized into three sections. These divisions included adult English for non-English-speaking groups; academic courses for those who wished to attend classes at the junior college level; and cultural courses for those who desired to study for personal development and improvement.

On January 11, 1943, adult education classes resumed with approximately 1,500 students enrolled in more than 30 courses. Attendance quickly dwindled, however, as a result of the registration, relocation, and seasonal furlough work programs. In January 1943, some 630 young people of college age were enrolled in 24 academic courses, but by the middle of March, some 320 students had dropped out and six courses had to be discontinued for lack of students. When the semester ended in June, less than 200 students, mostly female, were still attending classes.

During the summer of 1943, the adult education program, under the leadership of Dr. Melvin Strong who had replaced Charles K. Ferguson as director, introduced more commercial courses to help students better qualify for educational or employment opportunities outside the center in an effort to stimulate relocation and yet keep students sufficiently interested in attending classes. The courses, designed at the junior college level and accredited by the California State Department of Education, were offered especially for those contemplating relocation to outside schools. New classes were added to the adult English group, and vocational training in woodcarving, tailoring, librarianship, agriculture, and cosmetology were introduced.

During the remainder of 1943 and early 1944, the adult education program was affected by a shortage of teachers, as five evacuee instructors departed for Tule Lake and 11 relocated. Of the original group of evacuee teachers, only six remained. By recruiting evacuees and soliciting the aid of some appointed personnel teachers, the adult education program continued. Under the direction or Miss Dorothy Yamamoto, 15 young women were enrolled in apprenticeship training in a "cosmetology school."

In April 1944, Miss Kazuko Suzuki assumed temporary leadership of the adult education program after Strong resigned. Two months later, Dr. Kenneth L. Wentworth arrived at the camp to direct the program. In May, an auto mechanics course was introduced, and 24 students registered. By mid-June the course had become so popular that more than 60 students had registered for future classes. The department "saw the need for more vocational courses," but these plans never materialized because Wentworth left the center in late June after serving only a month, and the vocational training supervisor terminated in October.

During the summer of 1944, student relocation counseling became a part of the adult education program. Materials were collected for some 600 trade schools and institutions of higher education, and students and parents were encouraged to use them.

On September 1, 1944, Dr. Gladys C. Schwesinger arrived at Manzanar as Supervisor of Adult Education, and Henry W. Hough took over the work of Vocational Training Supervisor. Hough would stay at the center for only three weeks, however, thus continuing the rapid turnover in program leadership.

During late 1944, a shortage of instructors and "an attitude of indifference on the part of the residents" hindered development of the adult education program. An Adult English Activity Hall was opened, however, offering cooking demonstrations and craft activities conducted by both evacuees and Caucasians who used English "as the medium for exchanging ideas." Emphasis was placed "on enabling the evacuees to mingle informally with English-speaking Americans, to learn their language functionally, and to acquire American points of view and ways of doing things."

In February 1945, Dr. Schwesinger transferred to the community welfare section, and the adult education program "tapered off." The few remaining evacuee teachers were preparing to relocate, most of the evacuee college-age persons who had been evacuated to Manzanar had already relocated to attend schools or work on the outside or serve in the armed forces, and many parents were contemplating relocation at the end of the school term. During the summer of 1945, however, classes were offered in "brush-up commercial courses, adult English, cabinet-making, and tailoring." [33]


The original Manzanar library, which was established in an evacuee's living quarters during April 1942 with a gift of 17 books and 80 magazines, expanded to include a collection of 24,000 volumes (20,000 volumes were donated by other libraries) and a periodical subscription of 157 magazines. Originally organized under the recreation section, the library was transferred to the education section in July 1942. By autumn the several branches of the library were consolidated into the main library in the center of the camp and a branch fiction library in the southwest corner of the center. Takako Saito served as director of the library from April to July 1942, and Ayame Ichiyasu served as director from July 1942 to January 1943.

In October 1942, the school libraries were organized. The high school library was established first, as books from the community library were transferred to the mess hall in Block 7 which was converted for use as a study hall. The supervisor of student teaching organized a small professional library of more than 200 books in her office for loan to student teachers and regular teaching staff in the elementary and secondary schools. In November 1942, children's books were ordered for an elementary school library and placed in the elementary teachers' study room for teachers to borrow for use in their classes.

In June 1943, following the arrival of Ruth Budd, a trained librarian on the appointed staff, the libraries were reorganized. A central library office was established in Block 7, and a centralized union catalog of the holdings in all libraries was commenced. The professional and elementary school libraries, originally independent units, were placed under the direction of the community librarian. The two book collections were moved into the same room, and two evacuee librarians were added to the staff to direct the new library.

A three-unit weekly staff training program in library science was commenced for evacuees, and when a student completed the entire course, he was classified as a trained assistant A total of 39 persons entered the course "at one time or another," but only 14 completed the three units, primarily as a result of the continuing relocation of evacuees.

The main library was located in one entire barrack in the center of camp. It was equipped with six mess hall tables, benches, and a camp-constructed charging desk and card catalog cabinet, and had a seating capacity for 50 readers. This library "was invariably crowded at night." It contained both fiction and non-fiction titles for adults and children until November 1944. That: month all "easy books" were transferred to the elementary school library. In January 1945, the juvenile non-fiction volumes were divided between the elementary and high school libraries. Fiction for junior and senior high school students, as well as adult fiction and non-fiction titles, remained in the central library, which also contained a Japanese language collection of 994 books. Mending of all library books was handled by an evacuee at the main library. The main library was never completely catalogued, in part because of the large number of volumes and the "problem of weeding out several thousand worthless books that were placed on the shelves at a time when hundreds of donated and discarded books were sent into the Center."

A branch fiction library, known as the hilltop library, was located in an ironing room in the southwest corner of the camp. It contained 1,453 catalogued fiction books, approximately one-half of which were for adults. Two mess hall tables for adults and two small painted tables for children provided a seating capacity for 18 persons. This library "was a favorite spot for young people to gather" on "cold winter evenings," because the "two librarians" made "it into a very attractive place."

In June 1944, approximately 350 volumes and several hundred pamphlets were moved from the teachers' study room to be housed with the newly-established professional-visual aids library. Located in "the visual aids room," this library "contained over 3,000 mounted pictures, maps, models, exhibits, films, charts, and phonograph records." The microphone and motion picture projectors were placed in this room. The library also subscribed to education periodicals, and the librarian supervised the visual education museum in Block 8, Building 15,

The high school library had a seating capacity of approximately 300 and a catalogued collection of about 3,000 titles. The preschool library, with 169 catalogued books, was handled by the preschool supervisor.

In June 1944, Block 16 was set aside for the elementary school. The elementary school library, consisting of 2,791 books, was moved from the teachers' study room in Block 1 to a room in one of the barracks in Block 16. The room, which was decorated by an evacuee mother, was opened to children on July 5, and 240 youngsters visited the facility on its first day of operation. The average daily attendance was about 200 children. A summer reading club was begun, with 197 children joining the club and 120 reading the ten books required to obtain a membership certificate. After school started in September 1944, each elementary class was scheduled for one library instruction period per week. Because many children had been unable to bring toys to the center when they were evacuated to Manzanar and many toys were unavailable because of wartime restrictions or evacuees' financial difficulties, a toy loan library was attached to the elementary school library in which toys could be borrowed for seven-day periods.

During the summers of 1943 and 1944, outdoor story hours for elementary school children were conducted twice a week during the evenings. During the school year, story hours were held on Saturday mornings, separate sessions being held for children aged three to six and for older children aged seven to eleven. [34]

Hospital Class

One full-time credentialed teacher, with experience in exceptional children's education, supervised classes for handicapped children at the Manzanar hospital. Conducted in cooperation with the medical section, the classes originated within the elementary school program. At one time, two credentialed evacuee teachers assisted the program, but both relocated to teach outside the center before the school program ended. [35]

Summer Programs

A primary purpose of the summer program in 1943 was to provide opportunities for make-up school work on both the secondary and elementary levels. Only the children whose grades and achievement test scores indicated a need for remedial work were scheduled for academic classes. All other children were enrolled for activities which "gave them a different type of group experience from any offered during the academic school year."

Another part of the 1943 summer program was "the offering of step-up subjects, a schedule of courses on the secondary level which enabled half-year students to complete work necessary to enter school the following fall on an annual basis." Some 470 students were enrolled in subjects, such as English, mathematics, and history. At the close of the high school summer session, members of the graduating class received their diplomas, thus making it possible to end mid-year graduation and have only one senior class the following year. Thus, all Manzanar high school students went on a regular annual school year basis when classes started in September 1943.

During the summer of 1943, a boys' sports program was organized in connection with the Boys' Club Center. Different hours of activity were scheduled for various age groups. The secondary school girls were offered a sports program two evenings a week, while other secondary school activities continued "in the form of clubs such as the Baton Twirlers' Club, the Arts and Crafts Class, the Choir Club."

Approximately 450 elementary school children attended a 6-week school program during the summer of 1943 "which stressed drill in school subjects." In addition, some 425 pupils were enrolled in one or more classes in the activities program — "in industrial arts, general arts, music, drama, rhythms, and dancing." Sewing and knitting classes, and "other applied arts activities" were also offered.

All nursery schools and kindergartens conducted summer activities until August 27, 1943 with programs that followed much the same schedule as that of the regular school year. Greater emphasis, however, was placed on "play activities at the kindergarten level."

The summer program for 1944 was supervised by the community activities supervisor who worked closely with the superintendent and principals of the education section. Approximately one-half of the center's high school students preferred to work during the summer rather than engage in daytime activities. For secondary school students, attendance in make-up classes was compulsory for students who had received a D or F in English. Other classes that were offered included mechanical drafting, typing, shorthand, speech, and woodshop.

During the summer of 1944, a reading program in connection with organized book clubs on the elementary level "was unusually effective." Stenciling, knitting, and sewing classes were offered, and Junior Red Cross clubs on the junior high and elementary levels were active.

As the camp population dwindled during the summer of 1945, limited recreational activities were offered. For elementary school students, scheduled activities included industrial arts, sewing, knitting, rhythm, dancing, piano, story hours, book clubs, boys' softball leagues, and general arts. Most high school students remaining in the camp preferred to work, but the Youth Center, social club activities, athletic leagues, and block activities provided outlets for teenagers.

Adult education activities during the summer of 1945 were geared toward short limited units of instruction relating to relocation. A men's cabinet-making class was altered to take care of adults who wished to make trunks, cabinets, or chests in preparation for relocation. The Adult English Activity Hall "gave way to use of the Hall by small informal groups of Issei, wishing to use the kitchen stove, the sewing machines, and other facilities when the block sewing machines were not available." [36]

High School Organizations

During early 1943, a training institute in parliamentary procedure and school leadership was held for interested high school students. There was little "semblance of group unity or feeling of belonging to a student-body," however, since they "had come from 206 different schools." Thus, the high school students tended to group themselves into numerous clubs that were not officially organized, known by such names as the Venice Boys, San Pedro Club, Roosevelt High Gang, and the Hollywood Bunch. Later, however, a student body council was elected, and the study body government began operation under the leadership of the "Associated Student Body" composed of officers, a judicial committee, and girls' and boys' leagues.

Although some high school clubs were loosely organized and short-lived, some "were lasting and made real contributions." Among the clubs were; the Girls Athletic Association, which sponsored intramural play days and outings; the Boosters Club, sponsored by the student body association for the purpose of ushering and helping with various high school and community events; the Latin, Spanish, and French clubs which fostered cultural studies; the Journalism Club, which edited the school newspaper, first called the "Campus Pepper," and later changed to "The Spot" during 1944-45; the annual staff, which prepared for printing the high school annual titled "Our World " in 1944 and "Valediction" in 1945; the Future Farmers of America, which furthered interest in practical agricultural program activities; the Campus Strutters, a baton-twirling club for girls that performed at intramural games, assemblies, and programs; and the Lettermen's Club, composed of boys who earned letters in intramural athletics. Other clubs included home economics, science, shorthand, woodshop, choir, orchestra, dramatics, library, and national honor society. [37]

Elementary School Organizations

A variety of elementary school organizations continued to be "stable and active throughout most of the school's life." These groups included the Glee Club, composed of pupils in the third to sixth grades; the Junior Red Cross, which made cards, craft articles, and games for the United Services Organization and local hospital; the "Whirlwind" staff, composed of ten elementary children and their teacher advisors who edited about five editions of the school newspaper per year; three rhythm bands that performed at Parent-Teacher Association meetings and school and community programs; and class softball teams, which played in interclass tournaments during the spring months of 1943, 1944, 1945. [38]

Adult Education Organizations

During the fall of 1942, the adult education program organized a student body fund and several clubs, including commercial, botany, chemistry, and mathematics. College Hall, the office of the Manzanar Intercollegiate Association, established a club house and social room to promote college relocation. The Adult English Activity Hall, organized in connection with the adult English program, served as a meeting place for Issei who could practice their use of English and meet socially with Caucasians on an activity-related basis. [39]

Special School Events

To foster a feeling of unity with students throughout the nation, the Manzanar schools encouraged active participation in such nationwide and state-wide observances as Thrift Week, Boys' and Girls' Week, and Book Week. During Fire Prevention Week in the fall of 1944, cash prizes were offered for essays and posters that were assigned and graded by the English and art teachers.

Each year the education section observed National Education Week and California Public School Week. Parents were invited to visit the classrooms and all-school exhibits at the visual education museum. The exhibits were attended by some 3,000-4,000 evacuee residents, as well as many visitors from communities outside the center.

Entertainment events were conducted by the schools for the evacuees and residents in surrounding communities. These included the 1943 and 1944 Christmas concerts performed by the high school choir; a graduation concert on July 3, 1943, in which the high school choir gained attention for its production of "Ballad for Americans," a senior play, "Growing Pains," produced by the drama class in January 1944; a musical comedy, "Loud and Clear," written, produced, and directed by Louis Frizzell, high school music instructor, involving the high school choir and orchestra — the first event to be held in the new auditorium on June 16, 1944; "Out of the Frying Pan," a drama presented in the auditorium on April 6, 1945; "Looking backward," a musical with selections from past programs presented by the high school's music department as the last program of the high school; and "The Round Up," a play day sponsored by the Manzanar Girls' Athletic Association. This latter event was the first instance in which any neighboring high school participated in Manzanar school events. Some 300 high school students from the center and 60 high school girls from other Owens Valley towns participated in the athletic events. A football game with Big Pine High School at Manzanar on October 25, 1944, was the first and only interschool athletic event that Manzanar had an opportunity to enter during its operation.

Elementary school pageants were performed by about 500 students during California Public School Week during April 1943 and 1944. The theme for the pageant in 1943 was "From Many Lands and People," and that for 1944 was "The Making of America." In April 1945, "Rhythm Review" was performed in the auditorium by 350 pupils, featuring the rhythm work on each grade level and musical numbers associated with the social studies program. [40]

Visual Education Museum

After nearly five months of preparation, the visual education museum in Block 8, Building 15 was opened to the public on December 5, 1942, the day before violence erupted in the center. The director of the museum was Kiyotsugu Tsuchiya, who had served as curator of a Chicago museum prior to the evacuation. Although the evacuees did not initially attend exhibits in large numbers, special exhibits were scheduled twice a month and by mid-1943 attracted from 2,000 to 4,000 visitors. People who visited the camp from the outside often included a trip to the museum as part of their visit. The variety and type of exhibits that were shown during the 2 1/2-year operation of the museum until it closed on May 29, 1945, included: flower arrangement display, fine arts exhibit, progress in transportation, wartime rationing. Youth Week, thrift (effort to stress importance of more conservative standard of expenditure as many evacuees were rapidly using up their savings), photography, Hollywood movie studios, chrysanthemum show, arts and crafts, hobbies, doll show, Education Week, embroidery and woodcraft, and Relocation Week. Many of the exhibits featured arts and crafts prepared by evacuees in the center.

The museum program supervised visual aids rooms in Block 7 established for the use of teachers. In addition, the museum staff sponsored a number of skill and hobby clubs, including a Japanese music study club, mineral club, gem-cutting club, entomology club, and taxidermy club.

After the county health department issued an order preventing the keeping of birds and animals as pets in the blocks, the museum staff secured permission to keep the animals in a zoo at the edge of the residential area so that the animals would not have to be destroyed. The churches helped finance the construction of shelters for the "accumulation of cages of rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels, chickens, barn owls, and bantam hens."

The museum completed a recreational park for children equipped with picnic tables and a stone barbecue pit. This park developed "into one of the most beautiful spots in the community." [41]

Public Relations

The teachers of Manzanar played a significant role in building relationships between evacuees and appointed personnel. Teachers served as sponsors for clubs, youth groups, and class parties during non-school hours. Because food for refreshments was difficult to obtain, they often gave their ration points and supplemented the food furnished by the mess division. Many teachers were active in church affairs, and some taught Sunday School classes. With few exceptions, WRA teachers, going into neighboring communities, universities, or other school systems "served as ambassadors" for Manzanar. Those who had church affiliations in California or membership in a lodge, American Legion, or Woman's Club, developed helpful relationships with outside communities through attendance at conferences and summer sessions. Each year the Manzanar staff was invited to attend the Inyo County Teachers' Institute, and in 1944 the last session of the institute was held at Manzanar.

The county superintendent and co-supervisor of education were issued monthly passes, and they used these to make numerous trips to the center. The county school board, however, refused to work with Manzanar officials for use of federal funds in the camp made available through the state department for vocational training. The relationship with the State Board of Education was cooperative, although the main avenue for keeping in touch with California educational officials was correspondence since travel conditions made it difficult to bring people to Manzanar and WRA regulations prevented Manzanar educational personnel from business leave for such contacts. The University of California, Berkeley and Los Angeles, kept in close touch with the Manzanar program throughout the war.

In the beginning, a few teachers were hired at Manzanar "who might be classified as of the 'missionary' type." During the final two years, however, the staff, according to the Final Report, Manzanar increasingly "was made up of sensible, sincere persons who maintained a sympathetic relationship with the evacuees, without going to extremes as crusaders for causes." [42]

Parent-Teachers Association

Because of ill feeling in adjoining school districts in Owens Valley, Manzanar Parent Teacher Association members were aligned directly with the National Congress of Parents and Teachers rather than being affiliated with neighboring or state organizations. More than 800 evacuees in the camp were paid members who belonged to the National Congress. This number did not include the parents of preschool children, who numbered about 200 paid members. The organization provided many Issei with their first opportunity to participate in community life.

The general plan of the Manzanar Parent-Teacher Association was adjusted to meet the evacuee's ideas on effective participation for parents. A high school committee worked closely with the high school staff in planning monthly meetings and programs during the year. The high school PTA sponsored many of the high school events, such as Public School Week and American Education Week. It served by moving chairs and setting up the stage for school programs; installed plasterboard in unlined high school rooms; provided supervision for the study hall while the school was still unorganized; and sponsored teas for faculty meetings and graduation ceremonies.

Until the 1944-45 school term, the elementary school classes were scattered in classrooms throughout the center. There were elementary school PTA units for each building in which classes were held, and each unit held bi-monthly meetings featuring speakers who discussed various phases of the camp's education program. A concerted effort to turn the attention of the residents, as well as that of the children, toward less extravagant spending for special occasions began with the PTA meetings as many evacuees were rapidly using up their savings. Parent-Teacher Association groups raised more than $1,000 from bazaars, movies, membership fees, and other projects, to purchase curtains for classrooms; provide cash donations for tuition to the University of California, which partially paid for the extension courses in education taken by evacuee teachers; purchase three phonographs and industrial arts tools when it was impossible to buy such items through regular procurement channels; purchase a mimeograph machine for education office; and supplement the evacuee teachers' contributions for children's Christmas treats.

Three or four Parent-Teacher Association conferences were held at Manzanar. In March 1943, the president and vice-president of the California Parents and Teachers Congress and the vice-president of the National Congress visited Manzanar. On two occasions, the president of the Inyo County PTA visited Manzanar to speak to the parents. The Dean of Women from Chaffey Junior College assisted in the project's three-day PTA conference in August 1944. [43]

Fall 1945

The Manzanar elementary and high school classes met for the last time on May 29, 1945. Most of the other functions in the education section closed during August and early September. The elementary school library closed on August 10, adult classes were discontinued on August 11, the main library was closed on August 29, and the preschools did not meet after August 29. In an effort to encourage relocation, WRA authorities made no provision for school during the fall of 1945, although as late as August 9 the Manzanar Free Press reported that there were still 831 children in the camp between the ages of six and 18. The article noted that 429 families were involved, and "by failing to resettle are depriving their children of the opportunity of an education." [44]

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Last Updated: 01-Jan-2002