ARC Gallery: Japanese American Experiences
during World War II
Japanese American Life Before and During Internment
During World War II, the United States government relocated more than 110,000 Japanese Americans (both citizens and resident aliens) and held them in Assembly Centers and Relocation Centers, often called internment camps. The centers were run by the federal War Relocation Authority. Professional photographers, including Dorothea Lange, were commissioned by the WRA to document the daily life and treatment of Japanese Americans during World War II.
Reactions and Responses to Internment
In 1943 the United States began assembling combat units of Japanese Americans, and more than 30,000 Japanese Americans served in the U.S. military during the war. However, some interned Japanese Americans organized a draft resistance movement and protested the Selective Service Act as applied to relocation center internees. The federal government prosecuted alleged anti-draft conspirators in the Fujii and Okamoto court cases. In a 1942 federal court case, the United States convicted Fred Korematsu for resisting relocation and internment, although a 1983 court order recognized the injustice of the original conviction. In 1980 the U.S. Congress formed the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians to study the effects of relocation and internment of Japanese Americans and Japanese resident aliens during World War II and to recommend remedies or redress.
The records on Japanese-American internees can provide a wealth of information for researchers and family historians. See the National Archives' online guide and research path on Japanese Americans during World War II: Relocation & Internment.