This introduction written by Dr. Catherine Collins, Professor of Rhetoric, Willamette University, 27 December 2017.
120,000 individuals of Japanese heritage were forcibly removed from the West Coast of the United States and incarcerated in one of ten concentration camps established in isolated areas of the country for the duration of World War Two. Not knowing where they were being sent or for how long, they arrived to camps not yet completed, to crowded conditions with few amenities, and little privacy. Life as they knew it changed radically for Japanese Americans and their Issei parents.
Each Relocation Center was expected to create its own civic organization that would bring order to the new residents, provide necessary services, and communicate expectations of civil behavior among residents and with camp administration and guards. Schools, hospitals, police, recreation, stores, and other basic units of a community were organized and staffed.
Newspapers were central to creating a community that would become as close to normal as was possible under the circumstances. Each internment camp published its own newspaper to provide information on work opportunities, social activities, sports, births, marriages and deaths. The newspapers explained restrictions and opportunities afforded the internees, tried to explain policies imposed on them, and sought to prove that the internees were as American in their values, ambitions, and actions as any other American community.
This collection contains examples from nine of the ten relocation centers. The runs of the newsletters are not complete, but they offer a sense of this form of communication in each camp.
For further information on the newspapers printed in the ten relocation centers and in the assembly centers in which Japanese Americans were temporarily incarcerated as the relocation centers were completed, please refer to the following:
Friedlander, J. (1985). Journalism behind barbed wire, 1942-44: An Arkansas Relocation Center newspaper. Journalism Quarterly, 62.2, 243-271.
Kessler, L. (1988). Fettered freedoms: The journalism of World War II Japanese internment camps. Journalism History, 15.2-3, 70-79.
Luther, C.A. (2003). Reflections of cultural identities in conflict: Japanese American internment camp newspapers during World War II. Journalism History, 29.2, 69-81.
Mizuno, T. (2003). Journalism under military guards and searchlights. Journalism History 29.3, 98-106.
Stevens, J. D. (1971). From behind barbed wire: Freedom of the press in World War II Japanese centers. Journalism Quarterly, 48, 279-287.