‘An enemy race’

Gene Sogioka, “Wind-Blown in the Poston Camp,” watercolor on paper, c.1943

In spring 1942, after the attack on Pearl Harbor and the rise of anti-Japanese sentiment, the United States created an “exclusion zone” on the West Coast. Within the zone, all Japanese-Americans in California and parts of Washington, Oregon and Arizona were forcibly interned, and nearly 120,000 Japanese-Americans of all ages – roughly two-thirds of them American citizens  – spent the remainder of World War II in “relocation centers.”

A new exhibition in the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections reveals the difficult conditions, patriarchal treatment and complex situations that Japanese-Americans endured. “An Enemy Race: Documents on the Internment of Japanese-Americans” displays artifacts – part of the library’s collection of Japanese-American Relocation Centers Records – from these relocation centers.

Highlights include:

  • An original Relocation Order poster;
  • Eight paintings by camp artist Gene Sogioka;
  • A preliminary plan of the Poston Camp;
  • A “Statement of U.S. Citizens of Japanese Ancestry” form (containing infamous ‘loyalty’ questions);
  • Camp poems and publications; and
  • Internal War Relocation Authority documents and communications.

Kroch Asia librarian Dan McKee curated the exhibition. It will remain up until Oct. 17 in Kroch Library, in the rotunda hallway on level 2B.

“An Enemy Race” is connected with the “Siege of Cranes” installation in Uris Library, and both link to this year’s New Student Reading Project book, “When the Emperor Was Divine.”