Historic Resource Study/Special History Study
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After the last evacuees left Manzanar on November 21, 1945, some War Relocation Authority personnel remained at the site to close out the relocation center's operations. On March 10, 1946, the capital or fixed assets of the former center were turned over to the Department of the Interior's General Land Office (after July 16, 1946, the General Land Office was combined with the Grazing Service under the newly-established Bureau of Land Management) for liquidation, while the center's movable property or consumer/capital goods were assumed by the War Assets Administration for disposal. By 1952 all buildings, except two rock sentry structures at the main entrance and the auditorium which still remain at the site, were removed.

The Manzanar site became the focus of annual pilgrimages in December 1969, and as a result of the efforts of the Los Angeles-based Manzanar Committee the historic significance of the relocation center gained increasing recognition. In January 1972, the California State Department of Parks and Recreation designated Manzanar as a State Historic Landmark. On July 30, 1976, the site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and in 1977 the City of Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Board declared Manzanar a City Historic Landmark. In February 1985, Manzanar was designated as a National Historic Landmark, and on March 3, 1992, President George Bush signed legislation establishing Manzanar as a National Historic Site under the administration of the National Park Service. Planning efforts were soon initiated for management of the site and protection, preservation, and interpretation of its resources for the American public.


National Perspective: 1945-1947

After the relocation centers were vacated, the War Relocation Authority personnel in the Washington office, various other offices, and each of the centers turned their attention to the job of close-out operations. The closure process for the relocation centers consisted of four principal steps: (1) physical clean-up and placement in stand-by condition in preparation for transfer to federal disposal agencies; (2) inventory and declaration as surplus property of all movable and fixed assets of the physical plant for submission to the Surplus Property Board and its successors; (3) termination of operational activity, preparation of final reports, and consolidation of center records for shipment to Washington office for final disposition; and (4) termination of personnel. [1]

The War Relocation Authority had under its jurisdiction approximately $100,000,000 worth of government property By May 26, 1946, all of this had been disposed of except for a small amount of movable property held until June 30 by the Washington office. The $35,000,000 of movable assets had been inventoried and declared surplus. After the various bureaus of the Department of the Interior had selected the items they desired, and a small portion had been turned over to the Federal Public Housing Authority (FPHA) in the Los Angeles area, the remainder was declared surplus to the regional offices of the War Assets Administration (WAA). The $65,000,000 in fixed assets had been declared to the Washington office of the War Assets Administration, which in turn declared them to the disposal agencies of the departments interested.

Jerome, the first relocation center to close, was turned over to the War Department. Two of the relocation centers (Granada and Central Utah) went to the Farm Credit Administration in the Department of Agriculture, and seven (Minidoka, Heart Mountain, Gila River, Colorado River, Manzanar, Rohwer, Tule Lake) to the General Land Office in Department of the Interior. Eventually, Minidoka, Heart Mountain, and Tule Lake were placed under the custody of Interior's Bureau of Reclamation, while Colorado River was placed under the Office of Indian Affairs.

During the final months of the War Relocation Authority, its personnel section assisted employees to locate other employment. Four Civil Service Commission representatives explored openings in different areas of the United States. By June 30, 1946, when the WRA was liquidated by presidential executive order, approximately 3,000 people — all but the 80 employees who would continue with a liquidation unit — had been terminated. By June 1, about 2,200 of the agency's personnel had found employment in other fields. Of this total, the majority transferred to other federal agencies, many going to bureaus and divisions in the Department of the Interior and the National Housing Agency as well as the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration.

In order to carry out the final liquidation of WRA, a "War Agency Liquidation Division" was established under the direction of the Office of the Secretary of the Interior. This division, staffed by about 80 personnel, functioned for about a year after June 30, 1946, liquidating the outstanding obligations of the WRA, completing consolidation of the agency's records and file material for disposal to the National Archives, and completing personnel transactions.

From the outset, the WRA had undertaken efforts to document its program as extensively as possible. It was felt that the agency's program was unique and that complete records of its activities would be of value to government administrators and students in the future. Reports from administrative personnel who had been in charge of activities or programs, together with other file and documentary material, were transferred to the National Archives beginning on June 28, 1945. In addition, a complete duplicate set of the material was transferred to the library at the University of California, Berkeley, while a less complete record was sent by the Berkeley library to the library of the University of California, Los Angeles. A series of monographs and special reports on key phases of the WRA program and statistical records were also prepared by WRA staff members for publication and dissemination. [2]

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Last Updated: 01-Jan-2002