American Concentration Camps

Wednesday, January 18, 2017 - 8:00am to Friday, March 24, 2017 - 5:00pm

Image of American Concentration Camps Exhibit PosterAfter Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941, authorities on the West Coast began to incarcerate men of Japanese descent without due process of law, arresting American citizens not because they had been accused of a crime, but because they had an ethnic tie to the government that had attacked the American naval base. On February 19, 1942 Franklin Roosevelt signed executive order 9066, authorizing the mass forced removal of all people of Japanese descent in California, Oregon, and Washington. The men, women, and children affected by the order were quickly placed in temporary detention centers while ten concentration camps were built in remote locations across the country. Eventually, over 110,000 people, most of them American citizens, were incarcerated without trial.

This episode, popularly known as the Japanese internment, is widely regarded as one of the worst constitutional abuses in the history of the United States. In 1988, Ronald Reagan signed legislation acknowledging the “grave injustice” that had been done to those interned. In 1990, George H. W. Bush formally apologized to each of the survivors. Despite the expressions of remorse by these two Republican presidents, in the past several months, several important voices in today's Republican Party have spoken approvingly of the American concentration camps as a precedent for the proposed Muslim registry.

All items are from the following collections in Library Special Collections: the Manzanar War Relocation Center Records (Collection 122), the Collection of Material about Japanese American Internment (Collection 131), the Yuji Ichioka Papers (Collection 242), the Los Angeles Daily News Photographs (Collection 1386), the Los Angeles Times Photograph Archives (Collection 1429), the Harry Y. Ueno Papers (Collection 1555), the Karl Yoneda Papers (Collection 1598), the Lincoln Kanai Papers (Collection 1637), and the Japanese American Research Project (Collection 2010).

The exhibit is located on the second floor Powell Rotunda.

Read the interview with the curator here, and check out the exhibit talk and tour information here. 


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