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Minnesota's Remarkable Secret School for Language: Curriculum and Resource Guide (curricula)

Creators: Twin Cities Japanese American Citizens League Education Committee

During World War II, the Military Intelligence Service (MIS) trained 6,000 soldiers—mostly Japanese Americans (second generation – "Nisei")—in the Japanese language to support the war effort with translation, interpretation and interrogation. The MIS language school (MISLS) came to Camp Savage, Minnesota, in 1942 and then moved in 1944 to Fort Snelling, both in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. It was originally established in 1941 at the Presidio in San Francisco and moved back to the Presidio in 1946. The MIS played a critical role in the American victory over Japan in the Pacific and is credited with shortening the war by two years, saving many lives and great expense. This 72-page curriculum and resource guide is intended for Grade 6, however, the authors suggest it can be adapted for Minnesota History and/or WWII History.

This resource aims to help students build awareness of the MISLS in Minnesota, understand experiences of MIS soldiers, and understand the role MIS played during World War II. It contains a historical timeline, background information (including chapter 3, "America's Secret Warriors" from The Nisei Soldier , 2nd ed. By E.M. Nakasone, J-Press, White Bear Lake, Minn., 1999, pages 54-71), worksheets and answer keys, biographies of nine MIS veterans, maps, and an annotated bibliography. The learning activities not only provide historical background including the opportunity to learn about the lives of MIS soldiers, but also exposes students to reading and writing in Japanese.


1: MIS Background and History

2: MIS Language School Training

3: Japanese Language

4: MIS Soldiers as Interrogators

5: Areas Where MIS Served (map lesson)

This is an updated version of Minnesota and World War II History – Military Intelligence Service Language School at Camp Savage and Fort Snelling: Curriculum and Resource Guide published in 2007. Changes include:

Connection to updated standards – Minnesota Department of Education's Academic Standards in History and Social Studies implemented in 2013-14.

Narrowed intended grade level focus to 6th grade from 4th-8th grade.

Addition of the Roy H. Matsumoto biography.

Activity Card #3 - worksheets on reading words in Japanese borrowed from English focus on sports, eating, places, and a matching exercise. The previous edition focused on reading and writing names.

Activity Card #5 – fewer "Challenge" sites to map.

Changes in the bibliography listings.

Members of the Twin Cities Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) Education Committee that developed this guide: Sally Sudo (chair), Sylvia Farrells, Susan Fink, Lillian Grothe, Cheryl Hirata-Dulas, Lucy Kirihara, Kathy Ohama Koch, Gloria Kumagai, and Rachel Matsumoto. Additional contributors to the 2013 revision: Janet Maeda Carlson, Carolyn Nakasone, and Matt Walters. This project was made possible by generous donations from the family of Toshio William Abe, and George Suzuki.

Founded in 1929, the JACL is the oldest and largest Asian American civil rights/education organization in the United States.

Authored by Janet Hayakawa , Densho
For More Information

For More Information

Free download of the curriculum and resource guide .