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Browse > Time > 1940s

111 articles

Allegiance (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction, Mystery
  • Emptiness of attaining a false dream, Facing darkness, Injustice, Loss of innocence, Power and corruption
  • Widely available

Historical mystery novel by Kermit Roosevelt set during World War II against the backdrop of the Supreme Court and the Japanese American cases.

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Nebraska's Nisei (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Importance of community
  • Available

Documentary film produced by the University of Nebraska that tells the story of three Nisei from Heart Mountain who left camp to attend the University of Nebraska through the National Japanese American Student Relocation Council during World War II. The three are Pat Sano, Marie Yamashita Snell, and Tom Shiokari. The story is told through interviews, historical photographs, and unidentified home movie type footage of Heart Mountain. No credits are listed for the production of the film. A nine minute version is available on the University of Nebraska's YouTube channel.

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The Loom (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Adult
  • Fiction
  • Communication – verbal and nonverbal, Facing darkness, Loneliness as destructive force, Motherhood, Power of silence
  • Widely available

Short story by R. A. Sasaki that portrays the life of a Nisei woman looking both backwards and forwards after the death of one of her daughters. Born and raised in San Francisco where her family ran a boarding house, the unnamed woman graduated from the University of California before being incarcerated with her family in Tanforan and Topaz during World War II. Returning to San Francisco after the war having married a Kibei man she had known from before the war, she has four daughters while her husband works in the flower industry. Devoted to her daughters, she is at a loss as they leave the house to pursue their own lives and after one dies in a mountain climbing accident. Her daughters' efforts to bring her out of her torpor are largely unsuccessful until one gives her a loom, through which she is able to express the feelings …

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What the Scarecrow Said (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Importance of community
  • Facing darkness, Importance of community, Overcoming – fear, weakness, vice
  • Widely available

Novel set in the last months of World War II whose protagonist is a middle-aged Nisei widower who resettles in a small New England town.

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Legacy of the Nisei Veterans: WWII Stories of the 100th/442nd and Military Intelligence Service (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • War – glory, necessity, pain, tragedy, Heroism - real and perceived, Role of men
  • Limited availability

Documentary film made up of interviews with ten Nisei World War II veterans from the San Francisco Bay area. Short segments of the interviews are organized by topic in more or less chronological fashion, with the occasional insertion of still photographs from the period. Segments include the reaction to the attack on Pearl Harbor, the arrest of Issei leaders, Executive Order 9066 and its aftermath, early recruits to the Military Intelligence Service (MIS), the formation of the 442nd and the loyalty questionnaire episode of early 1943, the battlefield experiences of the MIS in the Pacific and the 442nd in Europe, and the role of the MIS in occupation Japan. The film ends with a brief summary of each man's life after the war. One unusual element in the inclusion of Takeshi "Gish" Endo's story of being recruited out of Heart Mountain by the British Political Warfare Mission, and doing translation …

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Case History (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Overcoming – fear, weakness, vice, Patriotism – positive side or complications, Evils of racism
  • Widely available

Short story about a young Nisei couple settling in "Centreville," a fictional small town in California, after World War II. John and Mary Mori arrive and open a flower market in town. But despite John's military service and the couple's good deeds, the face anti-Japanese harassment before a series of events begin to turn the tide. Author Bradford Smith tells the story using fictitious newspaper articles, letters, and personal testimony.

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Nakamura Comes Home (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Evils of racism, Injustice, Totalitarianism
  • Widely available

Short story about the return of a Nisei veteran to his California hometown by Henry H. Hayden. Kido Nakamura, with his chest full of medals and a limp due to a war wound, returns to Bonneville, where he had grown up as an orphan, and been on his own since age fourteen, until his forced removal to Tanforan . From camp, he joined the 442nd and served in Europe. He stops first at the hotel where he used to live and work, but a former co-worker tells him that the new owners are unwelcoming. He walks through he town, seeing racist signs, tangible evidence of anti-Japanese sentiment. Walking out to a farm he thinks he can get a job at, he is harassed by drunks and ponders his future in the town.

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Arts and Crafts from the Camps: The Arkansas Camp Experience (exhibition)

  • Museum Exhibitions
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Art, History
  • Beauty of simplicity, Desire to escape
  • Limited availability

Exhibition of art and craft objects created by Japanese American inmates at the Arkansas concentration camps. Curated by the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Public History Program in 2004, the exhibition included objects from the collection of Rosalie Gould, a former mayor of McGehee, Arkansas, who had amassed a substantial private collection. [1] Arts and Crafts from the Camps was one of the eight exhibitions mounted in the Little Rock area that were part of the Life Interrupted project, a collaboration between the Japanese American National Museum and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

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American at Heart (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Heroism - real and perceived, War - glory, necessity, pain, tragedy
  • No availability

Film that tells the story of the 100th Infantry Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team through historical footage (including clips from the movie Go for Broke! ), still photographs and interview with many Nisei veterans, their white commanders, and others tied to the story. American at Heart covers the origin of the units in Hawai'i and Washington, DC, basic training in Camps McCoy and Shelby, their experiences in combat in Europe, and their return to the Hawai'i and the continental U.S. after the war. The film also contrasts the experience of Japanese Americans in Hawai'i vs. those on the West Coast, outlining the mass forced removal and incarceration of the latter. Among those interviewed are General Mark Clark , the World War II commander of the Fifth Army and 15th Army Group in Europe, who discusses what he calls "the wrong decision" to send Japanese Americans to "concentration camps" and …

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A Place to Belong (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12
  • Grades 7-8
  • Children's, Historical Fiction
  • Coming of age, Facing darkness, Family – blessing or curse, Growing up – pain or pleasure, Loss of innocence, Will to survive
  • Widely available

Young adult novel by Cynthia Kadohata that tells the story of a Japanese American family's experience in postwar Japan from the perspective of an adolescent female protagonist.

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Valley of the Heart (play)

  • Plays
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Drama, History
  • Change versus tradition, Everlasting love, Family – blessing or curse, Love and sacrifice, Patriotism – positive side or complications

Play by Luis Valdez centered on two farm families—one Japanese American and one Mexican American—in Cupertino, California, during World War II.

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Manzanar (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Power of the past, Quest for discovery, Growing up – pain or pleasure
  • Limited availability

Experimental documentary film by Bob Nakamura made in 1971 that was one of the first films to explore the legacy of the wartime incarceration of Japanese Americans.

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The Long Journey and the Short Ride (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Darkness and light, Motherhood, Optimism – power or folly, Reunion
  • Available

Seemingly autobiographical story by Toshio Mori about the author and his brother, a paralyzed veteran of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team , recalling the latter's visit to Topaz prior to shipping out for combat in Europe. The author and his mother get a pass to leave Topaz for the first time since they had arrived in order to see the brother off at the train station. Their apprehensions about being outside the camp are eased by a white family—who had also just seen a son off to war—who offer them a ride to town. Shifting back to the present of the story, the author notes the successful recovery that his brother has made since the war and both brothers lament that neither of their parents lived to see that recovery. The same incident is the basis for another story Mori had written in 1943 titled " The Travelers ." "The …

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Home Is the Expatriate (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Disillusionment and dreams, Pride and downfall
  • Widely available

Short story by Larry Tajiri about a Nisei strandee just returned from Japan after a decade there. Joe Suzuki was a Nisei in Los Angeles who graduated high school in the mid 1930s. Unwilling to take the types of jobs available to Nisei at that time—primarily agricultural and/or manual labor type jobs—he first tried Hollywood, then went to Japan, as did many other Nisei at that time. He landed a white-collar job at a Japanese firm, but it proved to be a dead end job, and, as a Nisei, he drew suspicion from the police. He attempted to return to the U.S. in November 1941, but his ship turned around midway as war broke out, and he was stuck in Japan during the war. He returns embittered, his mother having died in an American concentration camp, and his father having resettled in Chicago .

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Topaz Mosaic (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Communication—verbal and nonverbal, Family—blessing or curse, Optimism—power or folly, Reunion
  • Widely available

Three vignettes by Toshio Mori centering on a family in Topaz and the furlough visit of their Nisei soldier son. In the first, an Issei father struggles to write a letter to his son Sam in English. In the second, Sam stops in Salt Lake City to buy presents for his family before visiting them in Topaz the next day, recalling the friend (presumably in Topaz) who was convinced he was a "sucker" for volunteering. In the last, Sam is greeted warmly by his family and learns that a sister has left camp for New York and a brother is also joining the army.

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Children of Topaz (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Companionship as salvation, Isolation, Nature as beauty
  • Widely available

A snowfall at Topaz brings children out of the barracks to engage in snowball fights and snowman building. They recall friends back home and wish their non-Japanese American friends can join them in play. The very short story by Toshio Mori —dubbed "A Sketch"—appeared in the Pacific Citizen newspaper in 1945.

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A Star Is Something to Steer By (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Coming of age, Convention and rebellion, Losing hope
  • Widely available

Short story by Mataileen Larkin Ramsdell about the contentious but affectionate relationship between a white high school teacher in Rohwer and an intelligent but cynical student. A young teacher from Wisconsin, Eve Erickson is immediately drawn to Joe Moriyama, the smallest boy in 11th grade homeroom class, who is constantly challenging her by pointing out the contradictions between the American creed and the treatment of Japanese Americans. In one instance, he tells her about a girl in her class who had her family farm registered in her name to get around the alien land law , but who now found herself the target of an escheat case upon the death of her father. Over time Joe and Eve come to like and respect each other. When Nisei are deemed eligible for the draft in 1944, Joe and other boys in her class are drafted, but he is uncharacteristically silent. He …

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The Flower Girls (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Heartbreak of betrayal, Loss of innocence, Optimism – power or folly, Progress – real or illusion
  • Available

Short story by Lawson Fusao Inada . Two girls named Cherry and Rose—dubbed the "flower girls" by their teacher—become best friends as first and second graders in Portland, Oregon, just prior to World War II. They play at each other's houses after school and explore each other's neighborhood, though both agree that Cherry's—the Japantown area known as Shita Machi—is more interesting. But the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor drives a wedge between them, and Cherry and her family are soon sent away. While the girls exchange a few letters, they soon lose touch. Switching to the present, the narrator writes about a new Cherry and Rose, who meet to play in the Japanese garden of a Portland park.

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Japanese American Internment Camps (Greenhaven Press, 2001) (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 7-8
  • Grades 7-8
  • Young Adult, History
  • Displacement, Evils of racism, Hazards of passing judgment, Injustice
  • Available

Anthology of first-person pieces on the wartime removal and incarceration as part of Greenhaven Press's "History Firsthand" Series.

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Weedflower (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12
  • Grades 7-8
  • Children's, Historical Fiction
  • Growing up – pain or pleasure, Evils of racism, Fear of other, Losing hope
  • Widely available

Coming-of-age novel for young adults set in Poston with a young Nisei girl as the protagonist. Weedflower was author Cynthia Kadohata's second young adult novel, after the Newbery Medal winning Kira-Kira .

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The Bracelet (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 3-5
  • Grades 1-2, Grades 3-5
  • Children's
  • Growing up – pain or pleasure, Importance of community, Self-awareness, Will to survive
  • Widely available

A children's picture book by Nisei author Yoshiko Uchida , with illustrations by Joanne Yardley, originally published in 1993. The Bracelet is a story derived from the author's own childhood experiences in an American concentration camp during World War II. The book opens as seven-year-old Emi, her mother and sister prepare to leave their home in Berkeley, California, for Tanforan , a racetrack that has been converted into a temporary camp for Japanese Americans. Emi's best friend, Laurie Madison, brings her a gold bracelet as a farewell gift, and as a reminder of the value of their friendship. Emi vows that she will never take it off, but as she helps clean out the filthy horse stable that will serve has her family's "apartment," the gold chain slips off her wrist and is lost. At first, she is desolate, but Emi eventually realizes that she does not need the bracelet …

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American Heroes: Japanese American World War II Nisei Soldiers and the Congressional Gold Medal (exhibition)

  • Museum Exhibitions
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • History
  • Patriotism - positive side or complications, Heroism - real and perceived
  • Limited availability

Traveling exhibition developed by the Smithsonian Institution to commemorate the awarding of the Congressional Gold Medal to the 100th Infantry Battalion , 442nd Regimental Combat Team , and Military Intelligence Service in 2011. Created by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service in partnership with National Veterans Network, National Museum of American History, and Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, the exhibition included photo and text panels about the Japanese Americans who served in World War II along with the medal itself.

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An Internment Odyssey: Haisho Tenten (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Immigrant experience, Nationalism – complications, Overcoming – fear, weakness, vice, Will to survive
  • Widely available

An Internment Odyssey: Haisho Tenten is the third book in a series published by the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai'i and University of Hawai'i Press of a Hawai'i inmate's account of their incarceration experience during World War II. It represents a critical addition to Japanese American history as it provides the perspective of an Issei from Hawai'i who authorities incarcerated at multiple sites in the Islands and the mainland. The author, Kumaji Furuya , thus gives voice to some of the experiences faced by the 1,320 inmates from Hawai'i who like Furuya were often separated from their families for the duration of the war.

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Tule Lake (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Evils of racism, Family – blessing or curse, Importance of community, Individual versus society
  • Available

Novel by Edward Miyakawa set in the eponymous concentration camp. Tule Lake was likely the first novel by a Japanese American set in one of the World War II concentration camps to be published when it first appeared in 1979. It was also notable for its unflinching portrayal of life in the most repressive of the camps.

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Manzanar National Historic Site Educator Resources Kit (curricula)

  • Curricula
  • Grades 3-5, Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Displacement, Evils of racism, Self-awareness, War
  • Available

"How does identity shape my experience in America?" is the central question which serves to unify the wide range of materials in this resource kit. The kit includes printed materials (lesson plans, reproductions of primary sources, official park brochure, booklet for self-guided tours, Densho brochure), and digital resources (video documentary, electronic field trip, biographical sketches of former inmates, related standards, lesson plans, and historical photos). The Manzanar National Historic Site Educator Resources Kit was supported by a grant from the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program and the Manzanar History Association.

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