Letters from students of Japanese-American ancestry to Miss Cox, their former teacher at the Edward Kelley School in Sacramento, California. This teacher has been identified as Mary Aline Cox by Ms. Colleen Zoller, January 13, 2009.
Scope and Contents:
This collection contains six letters dated 1942 1943 from former students of Japanese American ancestry to Miss Cox, a teacher at the Edward Kelley School in Sacramento, California. Three letters were written from inside a camp, while the others were written from outside of camp. The letters are arranged chronologically.
Sanji Sato, a young male not yet out of high school, penned both Letters 1 and 3. The first dated June 12, 1942 was written from Pinedale "A.C." [Assembly Center]. This letter contains a brief description of the center, one of many used to keep internees until the ten more permanent camps were prepared to receive them, and its physical surroundings, as well a mention of the medical examination and vaccinations the evacuees underwent.
Letter 3, more lengthy in nature, covers the dates January 1, 1943, to March 6, 1943. Sent from Poston, Arizona (location of the largest relocation camp), Sato indicated the block and barrack numbers of his lodgings. The camp is defined by the arid surroundings, temperature, flora and fauna, and natural landmarks; its
inhabitants are defined by their New Year's Exhibition and Boy Scout Troops. Pertinent to the historian are
Sato's opinion of the "loyalty" forms, why Japanese Americans should fight in World War II, and the behavior of other Poston residents. Also of interest are his personal discussions of his former life on the farm, his passion for the American flag, and remembrance of his dog.
Letter 2 was written by a student identified as "Kiyo" on December 26, 1942, in Garrett, Indiana while on vacation from college (later identified as Ms. Kiyo Sato). A former internee at Poston Relocation Center, she wrote of her reaction to school and dorm life, as well as her reaction, as a person of Japanese ancestry, to a Midwestern town. She expressed hope of ending any misconceptions and of the evacuees returning home "in one piece."
Letter 4 is signed "R. Satow and family" and dated April 19, 1943. A year after leaving the relocation center, the writer, having reached Keenesburg, Colorado, thanks Miss Cox for her assistance. The writer's surroundings are reported in addition to updates on other former internees' activities.
The Poston Relocation Center was also the home of Susuma Paul Satow, writer of Letter 5. Satow diplayed the belief that his volunteering in the army benefited the government and reflected well on Japanese Americans. Another topic discussed the regret that some "No No Boys" experienced and Satow's personal lack of empathy for them. The writer voiced concern about anti Japanese American discrimination in Sacramento, and, thus, his hesitancy to return.
Letter 6, from Tomi Komata, was undated and meant to inform Miss Cox of his life in college (possibly Downer College). "Released and happy," Komata announced the lack of expected discrimination and the racial tension that did exist, as well as his scorn of those in camp who listened to rumors of prejudice. Mentions of the WRA and how internees should be more willing to embrace its programs are included.
1 series. Not arranged.
Biographical / Historical:
On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 to bar "any and all persons" from certain sections of the United States for purposes of national defense. A reaction to the "yellow peril" "demonstrated" by the attack on Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941, the Executive Order would mean that all Japanese immigrants and Americans of Japanese ancestry would be required to "evacuate" the West Coast of the United States. By the end of this policy in 1946, over 120,000 men, women, and children had been forcefully relocated to various types of internment camps.
Not only had the possessions and lives of these people been disrupted, their privacy and Constitutional rights were ignored as the government thoroughly investigated their lives, looking for any signs of disloyalty to America. Early in 1943, tests were made of their "loyalty" as they were asked to forswear allegiance to the emperor of Japan, swear allegiance to the United States, and volunteer for military service.
Through programs established by the War Relocation Authority (WRA), internees were permitted to leave the camps permanently, provided they had a job or attended a college or university and passed additional government investigations. By 1943, 17,000 people had left the camps in this manner. Others left by joining the military. By 1946, the last permanent camp was dismantled.
Materials in Other Organizations:
War Relocation Authority, Record Group 210, or those of the United States Commands, 1947 , Record Group 338, National Archives and records Administration
National Headquarters of the Japanese American Citizens League in San Francisco, California
Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, California
Materials in the Archives Center, National Museum of American History:
Japanese American Documentary Collection, 1905-1945 (AC0305)
Collection donated by E. Gerald Lamboley, June 2, 1992.
Collection is open for research.
Usage or copyright restrictions. Contact repository for further information.
Japanese Americans -- Evacuation and relocation, 1942-1945 Search this
Internees -- Japanese Americans -- 1940-1950 Search this