Historic Resource Study/Special History Study
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Early in 1943, the center's administrative organization was reorganized with the community welfare section being placed in the division of community management. In addition to the work the section had carried on prior to that time (as discussed in Chapter Ten of this study), welfare took over administration of marriages, funerals, transfers between centers, liaison responsibility between the administration and the center's churches, supervision of the Manzanar Red Cross unit, YMCA and YWCA activities (including the organization's clubhouses and dormitories), housing, and "certain kinds of visits between centers." The welfare section continued clothing allowances, public assistance grants, and family counseling. Ashes of cremated persons were received and held by the welfare section pending building "of columbaria in the churches."

According to the Final Report, Manzanar, the year 1943 "was characterized by stabilization of Center life in general, Welfare working on family counseling, housing, clothing allowances and grants, and particularly on transferees between centers." The registration program, followed by Kibei, segregation and leave clearance hearings (These topics are covered more fully in Chapter 14 of this study.), continued throughout the year "with referral of special family problem cases to Welfare." The work of the welfare section necessitated voluminous record-keeping, and by July 1, 1943, a permanent system of records and monthly reports had been established. [68]

Community Hostel

From the earliest days at Manzanar, the welfare section had proposed construction of a hostel in which blind, aged, and infirm persons could be placed. Most of these persons had no relatives, and, in most cases, although needing medical supervision, they did not require hospitalization.

In February 1943, the Washington office authorized conversion of one barrack next to the hospital into a community hostel. The barrack was converted into a unit for attendant care of chronic patients. Four private rooms and two large dormitory rooms were constructed with two baths, toilets, a small diet kitchen, and one entrance room. The hostel was supervised by the principal medical officer, and its staff was placed on the hospital's payroll. Case work and grants-in-aid for the hostel's occupants were conducted jointly by the medical social worker and the welfare counseling aides.

Personnel and Office Space

During 1942, the welfare staff was limited to one appointed counselor. The following year, one assistant counselor and one junior counselor were added. During 1944 and 1945, additional appointed staff positions, ranging between 9 and 19 from August 1944 to October 1945, were authorized to cover the family counseling and temporary assistance programs related to relocation, a topic which is discussed more fully in Chapter 15 of this study. [69]

In addition to the appointed personnel, the welfare section had a large evacuee staff, since the majority of the section's work was conducted by evacuees. At its peak, the welfare evacuee staff numbered approximately 140 persons, who served as clerical personnel, counseling aides, and supervisors of the Children's Village.

The office space for the section expanded from a single room with benches and tables in July 1942 to space equivalent to about two barracks in 1945 scattered throughout the center. The Children's Village comprised three barracks adjacent to the hospital.

Inter-Camp Transfers

At the time of evacuation, many families were separated because members were living in different evacuation zones. Thus, the WRA made attempts to reunite such families, when the families requested it. Efforts were undertaken to include members of immediate families, dependent parents, married children where the social and economic connections had "been very close," and in some cases more distant relatives. Requests to be transferred were initiated by the family through the welfare section by filling out and signing Form No. 149. Transfers, which were handled through the welfare section, were numerous "through 1942 and reached their peak in 1944." Until the summer of 1944, the time of one evacuee counselor and one stenographer "were completely taken up with transfers."

The first large group of transfers to another relocation center occurred on February 24, 1943, when 181 persons were transferred from Manzanar to the Minidoka War Relocation Center near Twin Falls, Idaho. Although the vast majority of the residents at Manzanar had come from the Los Angeles area, the entire Japanese American population on Bainbridge Island in Puget Sound near Seattle, consisting primarily of strawberry farmers and rural entrepreneurs, had been evacuated to Manzanar because the Puyallup Assembly Center was not ready to take them. Arriving at Manzanar on April 1, 1942, the Bainbridge people had been quartered in Block 3. These people had never felt at home in a center composed chiefly of urban southern Californians and asked to be moved to Minidoka, where other friends and acquaintances from their home state of Washington had been sent. The climate at Minidoka was more like what they were used to, and it was closer to the area from which they had been evacuated. [70]

Crystal City Family Internment Camp Transfers

The results of prolonged separation of families in cases involving the internment of family heads were recognized both by the WRA and the Department of Justice. As early as November 1942, inquiries were sent to Manzanar, requesting lists of families of interned members who expressed a desire to join interned family members in an internment camp, if such a camp were established by the Department of Justice. The welfare section was asked to prepare the list and to interview the families involved.

During the period from November 1942 to March 1944, when the last group of families left Manzanar for the Crystal City Family Internment Camp in Texas, families changed their minds, some of them several times. A total of 47 families, comprising 131 persons, originally applied for transfer. The head of the family at Manzanar, as well as each child over 14 years of age, was interviewed "to allow for free personal decisions." A family summary was prepared for each family by welfare section counselors. While families were considering the plan, some of the interned members were paroled to Manzanar, and thus the reunited family remained in the center.

On June 2, 1943, eight families were transferred from Manzanar to Crystal City, and on March 5, 1944, an additional four families were transferred, In all, only twelve families, comprising 24 persons, were transferred.

Internees and Parolees

The internment of alien heads of families, sons, and in a few cases, of wives and mothers, in Department of Justice internment camps caused prolonged separation of families and was, according to the Final Report, Manzanar, "perhaps the most disturbing single factor in the evacuation program." Eight internment camps had been established at Fort Missoula, Montana; Santa Fe, New Mexico; Sharp Park, Colorado; Tuna Canyon, Tujunga, California; Kennedy, Crystal Park, and Seagoville, Texas; and Montreal, North Carolina. Most internees had been taken from their families suddenly during mass FBI raids in the wake of Pearl Harbor with "no chance for adjusting family and business problems." In some cases, internment had "entailed serious financial loss," and in a few cases "illness and mental instability had resulted."

The "fact that definite charges against the interned member could not be known to the family members involved, together with prolonged uncertainty about the future of the internees," was "very disturbing to family life and to morale in general" at Manzanar. Children were particularly affected, and deep resentment and bitterness often accompanied such cases.

Of the total evacuee population at Manzanar, 297 had been interned and were paroled to the center (with 31 actually released). Of this number, 290 were males and 7 were females. In most cases, only one family member had been interned, but in a few cases there were two or more. Approximately 10 percent of the population in the center were members of families in which a member was interned. Of the 297 paroled to Manzanar, 48 were later segregated to Tule Lake, ten were transferred to other centers, and six died. Twenty-eight of those interned had sons in the U.S. Army.

Internees were paroled to Manzanar following completion of hearings conducted by the Department of Justice. If approved for parole, the internees had to obtain formal acceptance from the relocation center before they could rejoin their families. Parolees arrived at Manzanar at periodic intervals, although no "one could be certain when hearings would take place." Months of waiting were involved, and in a few cases family members were allowed to visit interned members. In a "very few cases, where serious illness or death occurred in a family, the interned member was allowed to visit the Center while parole was still pending."

In considering the advisability of accepting a paroled member in the center, upon notice from the Department of Justice that the interned was eligible for parole, the welfare section interviewed the family at Manzanar. In most cases, the family was eager for the interned member to come to Manzanar, but in a few cases, there were family reasons which made this inadvisable. Some wives had become involved with other men during the separation from their husbands. In some cases, this development was discovered before the husband returned, but sometimes it was the duty of the welfare section to help the family clear up these relationships after arrival.

On August 22, 1944, the Department of Justice issued a ruling making provision for cancellation of parole status. This program appealed to many parolees, because special permits were required for parolees to relocate, and cancellation of parole status removed the stigma attached to such persons. After a parolee applied under this program, the Department of Justice contacted the relocation center for an extensive "summary based on the record of the parolee since he had come to Manzanar. The welfare section, working closely with the project attorney's office, prepared about 75 summaries. Lengthy waiting periods ensued, and many parolees did not receive replies to their petitions before relocating. Many decisions were still pending at the time of the closing of Manzanar, and a directive from the Department of Justice for general release of paroled aliens was received after the closing of the center on November 21, 1945.

Children's Village

Harry and Lillian Matsumoto, evacuees appointed as superintendent and assistant superintendent of the Children's Village when it was established opposite Block 29 in June 1942, served in that capacity until July 1944. Eva M. Robbins, assistant counselor at the Jerome War Relocation Center, was transferred to Manzanar to become superintendent in July 1944. Although she had many years of experience in the child welfare field and had supervised other children's institutions, this assignment was her first experience with a group of children of Asian background. While she "found the children 'real Americans,' with reactions of the average institutional child, she also found them more than normally upset by the prospects of another wholesale transfer." Accordingly, she "put forth every effort to insure private-home care for these institutionalized children who longed for 'real homes." ' To help Robbins, Adele L. Moore was hired as assistant superintendent in November 1944. Although she came without professional child welfare training or institutional experience, she had taught school and had training and experience in adult social work. In May 1945, Moore replaced Robbins as superintendent when the latter was transferred to the community welfare office to spend more time on child welfare counseling in the center.

By June 30, 1942, Children's Village had become the home of 62 children, aged one year to 19 years. The facility offered physical and medical care to the children, and provided for their social, recreational, and religious needs. Case work services were given every child "in an effort to know and meet the need for normal development and to give, as far as possible, an understanding to the child of his own position." A case history was kept for each child, and children were discharged to parents, relatives, or to foster homes "as promptly as suitable plans could be completed."

In 1943, several applications came from other relocation centers, requesting long-term care for young infants, born out of wedlock to "school-girl" mothers. The WRA medical social service recommended these referrals to Manzanar as "the situations were most difficult to meet. Because of limited staff, however, the Matsumotos and WRA personnel at Manzanar established a policy to accept no child under four months of age. Nevertheless, the urgency of these cases forced the Children's Village to accept babies at the age of three months. Arrangements for the care of small babies in the nursery were made, and eventually 11 babies were accepted.

After the original group of older children was discharged from the Children's Village, no more boys and girls of high school age were accepted. As time passed, applications came for younger and younger children, so that babies and youngsters gradually took the places of children who were 17 and 18 years old. From September 1942 until the village closed in September 1944 children admitted to the village included those from (1) orphanages who had evacuated with relatives or others, (2) foster homes and broken homes, and (3) families in relocation centers who required temporary care during illness of the mother or other emergencies. Infants of unmarried mothers from hospitals and maternity homes in other relocation centers were also sent to Manzanar for care.

After establishment of the Children's Village, eight children were admitted and six discharged during the remaining months of 1942. As of December 31, 1942, the number of children in the village was 64. During 1943, 21 children were admitted, and 28 were discharged. The following year, 11 children, including one readmission, were taken in, while 23 were discharged. In 1945, three children were readmitted, while 48 were discharged before the village closed on September 21. Thirty-two of those discharged in 1945 left the village in August and September. Of the 101 individual children admitted to the village during its operation, 48 were discharged to parents, two to other relatives, six to foster parents, five to wage homes, ten to boarding homes, and 20 to institutions for temporary care.

One of the emphases of the Children's Village program was the effort to reunite families. As the boys and girls of the initial group finished high school, they were discharged from the village to live with a parent, relative, or friend. Some, who received aid in securing jobs in the eastern United States, relocated early.

Some children in the initial group had parents who had boarded them in the Japanese Children's Home in Los Angeles prior to evacuation. Some of these parents and children were separated during evacuation. Included in this group were six parents located in other relocation centers, whose nine children were finally discharged from the village and transferred to their parents in other centers. With one exception, this reuniting of families was the only placement work done during 1942. A child whose plan for adoptive placement had been started prior to evacuation was placed in January 1943.

The Children's Village undertook considerable efforts to find foster homes for its charges. During December 1943, a series of conferences were held to clarify California adoption laws in relation to the village. The State Department of Social Welfare assumed responsibility for those adoption cases in California where the child was placed by the parent and consent was given for adoption. The California Children's Home Society consented to assume responsibility in cases where a parent wished to relinquish the child for adoption in order to have a foster home found by an agency. Although several cases were presented to the society, however, it was unable to find homes for the children. The WRA attorney in the Washington office determined that the Children's Village only had the legal "role of custodian of its children," and thus did not have "legal status to consent to adoptions."

Despite the effort to find foster homes for the children, few families were found. The WRA was promoting relocation for all evacuees, and a "great wave of insecurity was felt by prospective foster parents within the Center, and few Japanese American families were found who would then consider taking an added responsibility." Because California did not consider placing children "of mixed blood except with families of like mixture," an "additional handicap was experienced in placement work for ten of the children." Many letters of inquiry came from the eastern United States regarding possibilities of receiving a child from Children's Village, but "state law requirements for accepting an out-of-state child hindered many applicants." Complicating the process was the fact that there were requests for more "younger children than were available."

Placement planning for the children passed through three general procedures. Initially, individual contacts were conducted between the village superintendent and the relatives or prospective foster parents, with the Children's Home Society or the State Department of Social Welfare assuming legal responsibility. When area relocation offices were established in 1943, they were asked to assist by securing foster home studies of applicants through local child welfare agencies. The relocation officer assumed responsibility for securing approval of the child's acceptance and placement by the "receiving state" for placements outside California. Any placement from the center in California required consent from the Western Defense Command and the State Department of Social Welfare.

With lifting of the West Coast exclusion order on January 2, 1945, a third procedure was initiated. All village summaries were referred to the respective child welfare division of the state in which the child held legal residence, and that state, together with the county agency, accepted responsibility for placing the child. [71]

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Last Updated: 01-Jan-2002