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Browse > Time > 1940s

111 articles

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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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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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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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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Journey to Topaz: A Story of the Japanese-American Evacuation (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8
  • Grades 6-8
  • Children's, Young Adult
  • Displacement, Growing up - pain or pleasure
  • Widely available

Pioneering 1971 novel by Yoshiko Uchida that was the first book for children on the forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans written by a Japanese American. Based in part on Uchida's own family experience, Journey to Topaz was the first of five books the prolific children's book author wrote that focused on the incarceration experience.

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Nurse (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Communication – verbal and nonverbal, Hazards of passing judgment
  • Available

Short story by Masaharu Hane centering on an Issei man on a train in the Southwest during World War II. Spotting a Nisei young woman fellow passenger—one of the few "Japanese" on the train—sitting next to a white soldier, the narrator passes time on the trip by conjuring various unlikely scenarios that explain her travel circumstances, before learning the rather mundane truth. Originally published in a Poston Japanese language literary publication, "Nurse" was included in the 1991 literary anthology The Big Aiiieeeee!

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Transcending: The Wat Misaka Story (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary, History
  • Convention and rebellion, Heroism – real and perceived, Overcoming – fear, weakness, vice
  • Available

Feature length documentary film that traces the basketball exploits of Wat Misaka, a Nisei from Utah who starred on two college basketball national championship teams and played briefly for the New York Knicks in the 1940s.

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The War Outside (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Grades 7-8
  • Young Adult, History
  • Coming of age, Growing up – pain or pleasure, Loss of innocence
  • Widely available

Young adult novel by Monica Hesse that tells a complex story of a friendship between two teenage girls, one Japanese American and one German American, in the Crystal City internment camp in the fall of 1944.

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Beyond the Call of Duty: Honoring the 24 Japanese American Medal of Honor Recipients (exhibition)

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

2004-05 exhibition on Japanese American recipients of the Medal of Honor , the country's highest military decoration organized by the Japanese American National Museum (JANM). Of the twenty-four Japanese American recipients, twenty-one were honored for their service during World War II. Beyond the Call of Duty was one of eight exhibitions in the Little Rock, Arkansas, area that were part of the Life Interrupted project, a collaboration between JANM and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Three of the exhibitions, all on some aspect of the Japanese American military experience , were displayed at the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History, the other two being Witness: Our Brothers' Keepers and Undaunted Courage, Proven Loyalty: Japanese American Soldiers in World War II .

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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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Seki-nin (Duty Bound) (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Convention and rebellion, Displacement, Facing darkness, Family – blessing or curse, Power of tradition
  • Available

Novel by George Nakagawa about a Nisei stranded in Japan during World War II.

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The Idaho Homefront: Of Camps and Combat (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Injustice, Patriotism - positive side or complications
  • Widely available

Documentary video written and produced by Jim Peck for Idaho Public Television that tells the story of the Minidoka camp in Idaho and of Japanese Americans who served in World War II from Idaho, both those in Minidoka and those born and raised in Idaho. The show was a follow up to an earlier documentary by Peck titled The Idaho Homefront: World War II that had included a mention of Minidoka and of the 442nd . Narrated by Sue Galligan, and featuring interviews with Hero Shiosaki, Roy Gikui, Robert Sims, Bethine Church, Fumiko Hayashida, and Toshi Ito. Funding for the show came in part from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, WETA Public Broadcasting, and from Wal-Mart. The half-hour show premiered on Idaho public television stations on September 20, 2007.

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I Am an American: A True Story of Japanese Internment (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Grades 7-8
  • Children's
  • Displacement, Evils of racism, Injustice
  • Widely available

Book aimed at middle school audiences that tells the larger story of the Japanese American World War II removal and incarceration through the experiences of one typical Nisei teenager.

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Against Their Will: The Japanese American Experience in World War II Arkansas (exhibition)

  • Museum Exhibitions
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • History
  • Evils of racism, Injustice
  • Available

Exhibition centering on the experiences of Japanese Americans in Jerome and Rohwer , the two concentration camps located in Arkansas, as well as those of who lived near the camps and/or worked in them. The exhibition was developed by the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Public History Program and debuted as part of the Life Interrupted project in 2004. The largest of eight exhibitions mounted in various venues in the Little Rock area, Against Their Will debuted at Arkansas Statehouse Convention Center downstairs foyer on September 24, 2004, running through November 28, 2004. Against Their Will is currently on permanent display at the World War II Japanese American Internment Museum , which opened in McGehee, Arkansas, in 2013.

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Ganbare Don't Give Up! (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Immigrant experience, Patriotism – positive side or complications, Rights - individual or societal, War – glory, necessity, pain, tragedy
  • No availability

Documentary film that provides an overview of what happened to Japanese Americans in Hawai'i during World War II, focusing on the limited internment of Issei community leaders and the exploits of Japanese American men in the armed forces. Ganbare Don't Give Up! was produced as a part of the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai'i's core exhibition, Okage Sama De: I am what I am because of you , which remains the only place where it can be viewed.

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Homecoming (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Love and sacrifice, Motherhood, Wisdom of experience
  • Widely available

Short story by Toshio Mori about an Issei woman's first visit with her son Mamoru after he has been severely wounded in combat as a member of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team . "Homecoming" takes the form of a story told in the woman's first person voice to her grandchildren. It is one of several stories by Mori featuring the same woman published in the Pacific Citizen between 1949 and 1952 that later became the basis of his novel Woman from Hiroshima , published in 1978. The first half of the story is about her efforts to see her son after being allowed to leave Topaz to return to the West Coast . She is at first dismayed to learn that he has been moved to a military hospital in Auburn, California, known to be a hotbed of anti-Japanese racism. Arriving in Auburn, they see numerous anti-Japanese signs and are …

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The Cat Who Chose to Dream (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 1-2, Grades 3-5
  • Grades 1-2, Grades 3-5
  • Children's
  • Disillusionment and dreams, Facing darkness, Overcoming – fear, weakness, vice, Will to survive
  • Widely available

Children's picture book about a cat who accompanies his Japanese American family to an American concentration camp during World War II.

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Meeting at Tule Lake (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Power of the past, Evils of racism, Injustice
  • Limited availability

Documentary film produced and directed by Scott T. Tsuchitani that features interviews with seven former Tule Lake inmates talking about life in the camp, the "loyalty questionnaire" and segregation, and the importance of remembering, intercut with footage of poet Hiroshi Kashiwagi reading the title poem and of a Tule Lake Pilgrimage. Meeting at Tule Lake was produced by the Tule Lake Committee for the 1994 Tule Lake Pilgrimage.

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Dear Miss Breed (play)

  • Plays
  • Grades 3-5, Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12
  • Communication – verbal and nonverbal, Evils of racism, Growing up – pain or pleasure
  • No availability

Play about a San Diego librarian who corresponded with incarcerated Japanese American children during World War II. Playwright Joanne Oppenheim adapted Dear Miss Breed from her children's book Dear Miss Breed: True Stories of the Japanese American Incarceration During World War II and a Librarian Who Made a Difference .

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Flowers from Mariko (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 1-2, Grades 3-5
  • Grades 3-5
  • Children's, Historical Fiction
  • Growing up – pain or pleasure, Heartbreak of betrayal, Optimism – power or folly, Overcoming – fear, weakness, vice, Working class struggles
  • Widely available

Picture book for children about a Japanese American family's World War II incarceration and difficulties in restarting their lives after the war, told from the perspective of a young girl of about nine of ten. Mariko, her little sister Emi, and their parents live in Los Angeles before the war, where their father works as a gardener. When they are forced to leave, he leaves his gardening truck and equipment with their landlord. When Japanese Americans are allowed to return to the West Coast in 1945, the family makes plans to return. However their father finds that his truck and equipment have been sold, and the former landlord is nowhere to be found. The family is forced to live in a government-run trailer park upon their return, and her father is unable to find work. One day, he finds some old equipment in the trash, along with some flower seeds. …

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Through the Lens of Russell Lee: Mathias Uchiyama's Story (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Power of the past, Working class struggles, Displacement
  • Widely available

Short documentary film about a Japanese American family that left the Portland Assembly Center to engage in farm labor in eastern Oregon, produced to accompany the traveling exhibition Uprooted: Japanese American Farm Labor Camps during World War II .

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Dear Miss Breed: Letters from Camp (exhibition)

  • Museum Exhibitions
  • Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • History
  • Importance of community, Power of words
  • Available

Exhibition at the Japanese American National Museum (JANM) based on the letters sent to librarian Clara Breed by Japanese American students forcibly removed to concentration camps. Dear Miss Breed opened in JANM's Legacy Center gallery on January 14, 1997, and closed on April 13, 1997. A short film of the same name was also featured in the exhibition. Though it did not travel subsequently, an online version of the exhibition was created and is available at the JANM website.

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Welcome Home! (short story)

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

Short story that contrasts the reception of two returning soldiers to their homes after serving overseas. Two soldiers meet on a train and talk about what they look forward to upon returning home. The first, presumably white, gets off the train to a warm welcome by parents, a girlfriend and the family pet. The second, a Japanese American has no one waiting for him, since his family is still incarcerated in an Arizona concentration camp. He is ignored or greeted coldly by the locals in his hometown and when he gets to his family home, finds that it has been vandalized and painted with racist epithets. Authored by Sgt. Len Zinberg, Welcome Home! was first published in Yank , a weekly magazine published by the U.S. Army and reprinted in the Pacific Citizen in 1945.

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When the World Winds Down (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Isolation, Lost love
  • Limited availability

Short story by Sharon Hashimoto about a watch repairman who fixes a gold watch brought in by a young man who reminds him of his late brother. Fred Fujita is one of the last remaining Nisei businessmen in the old Japanese section of Seattle. Agreeing to fix the gold watch at the end of one day, he decides to work on it at home, observing that his late wife would have objected to his doing so. While working on the watch, he recalls his brother Jimmy—the night at Heart Mountain when the seventeen-year-old Jimmy tells him he is going to enlist, trying to talk him out of it, and receiving word that he is missing in action.

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