39 Months at Tule Lake (book)
Creators: Lowery, Margaret, Lowery, J. Sheldon
Book cover. Courtesy of Xlibris
View in the Densho Encyclopedia
The volume begins with a preface by Margaret Lowery, the daughter of the main author of the text, J. Sheldon Lowery. She published the diary and also spent some of her high school years at Tule Lake with her parents. The next chapter is a brief overview of the senior Lowery explaining how he ended up as staff at Tule Lake, what his role as evacuee property officer entailed, and how he was drawn to the work there out of a sense of indignation that Japanese Americans were being treated unfairly during the war.
The diary itself begins with his arrival at Tule Lake, right after the distribution of the so-called loyalty questionnaire , and his receiving an explanation of the turmoil in Tule Lake over it from the camp attorney. He comments in great detail on the physical surroundings and state of the facilities, how the staff and administration section differs from "the colony," or where the Japanese Americans are held. He also describes the day-to-day workings of his office, who is on his staff, and how he coordinates with them to get his section in order. Once Tule Lake is designated the segregation center, his work multiplies, since his office is responsible for making sure departing inmates receive their baggage at their new camps, and that all incoming baggage of segregees is matched with them upon arrival. He is also one of the staff responsible for running the hearings that determine which inmates will go where, and he shares anecdotes about individuals who are torn about where they want to go, and why.
Since he is there for the duration of Tule Lake's existence, he also offers his perspective on different moments of unrest and protest in Tule Lake.
Might also like Song of Anger: Tales of Tule Lake by Barney Shallit; Dusty Exile: Looking Back at Japanese Relocation During World War II by Catherine Embree Harris; Behind Barbed Wire by Velma Berryman Kessel