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How Did This Happen Here?: Japanese Internment Camps (book)

Creators: Leni Donlan, Nancy Harris (subject consultant)

Book cover. Courtesy of Raintree
View in the Densho Encyclopedia

Short overview picture book on the wartime removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans aimed at an elementary school audience.


The thirty-two page book covers the basics in words and photographs, starting with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor , then continuing to Executive Order 9066 and the forced removal of Japanese Americans, the " assembly centers ," the War Relocation Authority administered concentration camps (with a brief description of each camp), Japanese American American military service, the closing of the camps, and the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 .

A glossary defines key words and phrases and a brief "What to Know More?" section is included. Though it is part of the "American History Through Primary Sources," few primary sources are included, just partial images of an exclusion order poster and a typescript of Executive Order 9066.

Additional Information

Author Leni Donlan (1946–2007) was a teacher who became a pioneering figure in the use of the internet in teaching, eventually developing online educational products for the Library of Congress. Nine books for children she authored on various American history topics for Raintree were published in 2007–08.

While broadly accurate historically, How Did This Happen Here? contains a few errors: a claim that half of those incarcerated were children (page 8; the actual figure was less than one-third); that Minidoka "held about 13,000 internees" (16; its peak population was less than 8,000); that the " 442nd Regimental Combat Team saved the lives of 211 U.S. soldiers" (27; clearly a reference to the Rescue of the Lost Battalion , the claim makes no sense divorced from that context).

Authored by Brian Niiya , Densho
Borrow/Download from Internet Archive

Find in the Digital Library of Japanese American Incarceration

How Did This Happen Here?: Japanese Internment Camps

This item has been made freely available in the Digital Library of Japanese American Incarceration , a collaborative project with Internet Archive .

Might also like Fred Korematsu Speaks Up by Laura Atkins and Stan Yogi; So Far from the Sea by Eve Bunting; The Journey by Sheila Hamanaka

Media Details
Author Leni Donlan, Nancy Harris (subject consultant)
Pages 32
Publication Date 2008