Historic Resource Study/Special History Study
NPS Logo



The tenor of Executive Order 9102 establishing the War Relocation Authority indicated that the agency would fully assume the task of formulating and implementing a relocation program. However, to expedite the removal of evacuees from the assembly centers to the relocation centers, the Army assumed certain responsibilities imposed on the WRA by the executive order. Among the most significant activities in this category were the construction and equipment of the relocation Centers and the transfer of the evacuees to the latter.

General plans for the establishment, construction, and equipment of relocation centers, then termed reception centers, were developed by the Wartime Civil Control Administration before the WRA was established. Following creation of the WRA, the WCCA halted the relocation center site selection aspects of its program. Otherwise, the WRA accepted, almost without change, the program already formulated by the WCCA during the early days of its existence. In essence, the program called for the evacuation first to assembly centers and thence to relocation centers in the interior. With the exception of site selection for the relocation centers, the WRA was free to concentrate solely on the rehabilitation aspects of the relocation program.

Close coordination was established between the headquarters of the WCCA and the WRA during the spring of 1942. Following his appointment, Eisenhower arrived in San Francisco and established his headquarters in the Whitcomb Hotel where the WCCA had already had its central administrative office. Although the headquarters of the WRA would later be established in Washington, until well into the summer of 1942 its principal office was what became known as the San Francisco Regional Office. Captain Mark H. Astrup was directed by the War Department to report for duty to Eisenhower, who in turn assigned him as Liaison Officer from the WRA to the WCCA. [13]

As discussed in Chapter Three of this study, the War Department and the WRA agreed informally to a division of labor concerning evacuation and relocation by the end of March 1942. This informal understanding was formalized in a memorandum of agreement between the two governmental entities on April 17, 1942, ten days after the aforementioned meeting at Salt Lake City. The agreement stipulated that sites for the relocation centers were to be selected by the WRA, subject to War Department approval. Such approval was necessary in the eyes of the military "in order that large numbers of evacuees might not be located immediately adjacent to present or proposed military installations or in strategically important areas." The sites, however, were to be acquired by the War Department, the WRA defraying the acquisition costs. "Initial" facilities at relocation centers would be constructed by the War Department, including "all facilities necessary to provide the minimum essentials of living, viz., shelter, hospital, mess, sanitary facilities, administration building, housing for relocation staff, post office, store houses, essential refrigeration equipment, and military police housing." War Department construction would not include "refinements such as schools, churches and other community planning adjuncts." Placement and construction of military police housing would be subject to the approval of the appropriate military commander." The War Department, through the Office of the Surgeon and the Quartermaster of the Western Defense Command, would procure and supply the initial equipment for the relocation centers such as kitchen equipment, minimum mess and barrack (beds, mattresses, and blankets) equipment, hospital equipment, medical supplies, and ten days' supply of non perishable subsistence (canned goods, smoked meats, and staples such as beans, rice, flour, sugar, etc.) based on the relocation center evacuee capacity. Once a relocation center was opened by the WRA, the War Department would transfer accountability for all such equipment to the WRA.

Other stipulations in the agreement stated that the WRA would be responsible for operating the relocation centers "from the date of opening." This responsibility would include staffing, administration, project planning, and complete operation and maintenance. The WRA would be prepared "to accept successive increments of evacuees as construction is completed and supplies and equipment are delivered." The War Department through the Western Defense Command would transport the evacuees to the relocation centers, and it had arranged for the storage of household effects of evacuees through the Federal Reserve Bank of Stan Francisco. When evacuee goods were stored and the bank delivered inventory receipts to the WRA, the agency would assume responsibility for the warehousing program. In the interest of the evacuees' security, relocation sites would be designated by the appropriate military commander or by the Secretary of War as "prohibited zones and military areas, and appropriate restrictions with respect to the rights of evacuees and others to enter, remain in, or leave such areas will be promulgated so that ingress and egress of all persons, including evacuees, will be subject to the control of the responsible Military Commander." Each relocation site would "be under Military Police patrol and protection as determined by the War Department." [14]

<<< Previous <<< Contents >>> Next >>>

Last Updated: 01-Jan-2002