After President Roosevelt signed his Executive Order 9066, in February of 1942, Japanese-Americans were forced to leave their homes for resettlement in internment camps. This photo, which Clem Albers took in California during April of 1942, depicts one little girl disrupted by the mandate. The National Archives, which maintains the photo, provides a description: "A young evacuee of Japanese ancestry waits with the family baggage before leaving by bus for an assembly center in the spring of 1942."
NARA (the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration) contains a wealth of information, including photographs and documents, regarding this period of American history. From that vast collection, we have culled representative primary sources for this story.
Many of the people who were ordered to evacuate their homes and were sent to internment camps were children, infants and young adults who had not yet reached voting age. One Oakland, California woman arranged a bouquet of flowers (for the Japanese Independent Congregational Church altar) the day before she was sent to a camp.
In San Francisco, two Shinto priests were interned the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed. According to NARA:
(T)wo Shinto priests...were interned on December 8, 1942, immediately upon declaration of war. The mother at right [the wife of one of the priests] has nine American born children and has been in the United States ten years. The mother on the left has been in this country two years, and neither speak English.
Not knowing how long they would be away, shop owners (like this optometrist on Post Street in San Francisco) boarded up their windows. Restaurant owners were forced to close. Even people like Dave Tatsuno, who was born in America, graduated from the University of California, and served as president of the Japanese American Citizens League of San Francisco, were ordered to pack up their belonging and leave.
In the beginning, because everything was put together so hastily, War Relocation officials were unable to provide classrooms, with tables and chairs, for the children. Instead, students (who were taught by volunteer teacher-evacuees) attended class outdoors. Sometimes, in the early days of the evacuation, the best a teacher could do was find a shady spot, behind a building (like this Manzanar camp situation).
Other children (from Redondo Beach, California), with registration tags hanging from their necks, were transported by truck to an assembly center in Arcadia. From there, they (like so many who were dressed in their finest clothes) were assigned to various relocation camps.
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