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You can still access the UC Berkeley Library’s services and resources during the closure. Here’s how.

The Bancroft Library Guide to Japanese American Internment, Relocation and Resettlement Records: War Relocation Authority Records

A guide to the collections held at The Bancroft Library relating to Japanese American Interment during World War II

About the WRA

The War Relocation Authority (WRA) was the federal agency created in 1942 in response to Executive Order 9066 to assume jurisdiction over the Japanese Americans whom were removed from the West Coast by the Western Defense Command, the Fourth Army, and the Wartime Civilian Control Administration. The WRA provided temporary wartime custody designed to resettle the inmates into mainstream society. Initially, the WRA focused on constructing and managing the camps. By 1943 the focus shifted to opening regional resettlement offices and assisting inmates leaving the camps until the agency’s termination in 1946.

Collection at a Glance

The Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Records, BANC MSS 67/14 c, consists of the War Relocation Authority agency documents and the Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Study, University of California, Berkeley, 1942-1946.

Material from the WRA document the process of establishing the camps, registration of Japanese Americans, life inside the camps, resettlement assistance, and the agency’s involvement with organizations such as the Japanese American Citizens League. Included is material regarding personal storage of property; administration of the camps; segregation or loyalty program and inmates who were recruited into military service. Additionally, the material documents the WRA’s efforts to establish functioning communities within the camps that included educational programs, employment programs, recreation facilities, and camp newspapers.

Media includes manuscripts, official publications, reports and surveys, forms, rosters, inventories, scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, correspondences, posters, construction documents, and maps. Also included is material on the uprisings in the camps: the Poston Strike in 1942, Manzanar riot in 1942 and the Tule Lake riot in 1943. See the finding aid for a detailed listing of materials.

fL6.19

C-324

BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder C1.00

BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder O2.52

Granada Roster Tanforan Assembly Center History of WRA Map of camp showing incidents of crime, Manzanar
Above samples from the digital archive

 

Collection outline:

Exclusion and internment of Japanese in assembly centers, 1942

This section covers the initial phase of the evacuation of Japanese Americans from the West Coast by the Western Defense Command; the assembly centers operated by the Wartime Civilian Control Administration; transfers to the concentration camps and the creation of the War Relocation Authority. Included are Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Study (JERS) material including studies, reports, and analysis. Additional JERS material are found in the final section.

Internment in Relocation Centers and Conditional Freedom, 1942-1944

Material documents the second phase of the evacuation during which individuals were held in the relocation centers and allowed to resettle under supervision in the eastern states. Documentation from the Washington Office headquarters includes annual reports, pamphlets, correspondences, and reports from administrative units. There is material from the district and field offices or regional offices and documents from the relocation centers. The relocation center material consists of documents from administrative officials and organization units relating to policy and operations; center administration dealing with major events including registration, Selective Service, and disturbances such as strikes; studies on center events, policies and attitudes; diaries, correspondences and other personal writings by evacuees; and publications of the evacuees including newspapers. Topics include the Japanese American Citizen League; service in armed forces of the United States; and public opinion.

Freedom and Individual Exclusion, 1944-1946

The section includes the third phase of the evacuation beginning with the lifting of the Army’s mass-exclusion order in 1944; the release of evacuees and the establishment of the Army’s individual exclusion program that ended in 1946 when the last relocation center closed.

Vital statistics and biographical data (Restrictions apply)

This section comprises vital statistics and life records including portfolios of Form WRA-26 that captured personal descriptive information on all individuals evacuated and relocated.

Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Study (JERS)

Consists of material from JERS including staff working papers, correspondences, reports and tabulations. Additional JERS material is included in the top section.

 

The Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Study (JERS) was a research project initiated in 1942 at UC Berkeley. The project was designed to document and examine the internment of Japanese Americans by placing Nisei (American-born children of Japanese immigrants) social science students into selected internment sites. Additionally, resettlement in Chicago was also documented. The collection is comprised of daily journals, field reports, life histories, and secondary research materials collected and compiled by the research staff. There is also extensive correspondence between staff, evacuees, and others. These records were deposited in the University Library in August 1948 by sociologist and Director of JERS, Dorothy Swaine Thomas. JERS materials may be found in the Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Records, BANC MSS 67/14 c.

The JERS staff concentrated on Tule Lake, Gila River, and Poston/Colorado River, with minor involvement at Topaz/Central Utah, Manzanar, and Minidoka. Material was also gathered from temporary detention centers, primarily the Tanforan and Tulare centers located in California.

 

JERS Staff:  

Robert Billigmeier
(Tule Lake Relocation Center)

Virginia L. Galbraith
(Berkeley)

Morton Grodzins
(Berkeley and Chicago)

Rosalie Hankey (Wax)
(Gila River Relocation Center, Tule Lake Relocation Center)

Charles Kikuchi
(Tanforan Assembly Center, Gila River Relocation Center, Chicago)

Shotaro Frank Miyamoto
(Puyallup Assembly Center, Tule Lake Relocation Center, Chicago)

Haruo Najima
(Tanforan Assembly Center, Tule Lake Relocation Center, Minidoka Relocation Center)

Richard S. Nishimoto
(Poston Relocation Center, Berkeley)

James Sakoda
(Tulare Assembly Center, Tule Lake Relocation Center, Minidoka Relocation Center)

Tamotsu Shibutani
(Tanforan Assembly Center, Tule Lake Relocation Center, Chicago)

Robert F. Spencer
(Gila River Relocation Center)

Togo Tanaka
(Manzanar Relocation Center, Chicago)

Dorothy Swaine Thomas
(Director)

Tamie Tsuchiyama
(Santa Anita Assembly Center, Poston Relocation Center)

The War Relocation Authority photographs, BANC PIC 1967.014, consists of photographs document the evacuation of Japanese Americans and their life in various Relocation Camps across the United States. Post-war resettlement activities are also recorded.

It is important to note that the photograph collection, as the official documentation of the WRA, reflects the point of view that the WRA wanted to present to the citizens of the United States during World War II. The photographs, presumably created for public exhibition, and the captions accompanying them written by WRA staff, present an idealistic view of the relocation centers which clashes greatly with the harsh realities detailed by many survivors and historians in the decades following the internment.
The collection contains approximately 7000 photographs and 317 Kodachrome slides which have been arranged into 18 series. Series 1-6 and 8-11 document day-to-day life and activities in individual relocation centers in California, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and Arkansas as captured by WRA photographers. The remaining series cover pre-evacuation activities in California only; relocation of evacuees in various states; assembly centers in California; and resettlement activities, primarily in California cities. Most of the photographs are well captioned with information on the photographer, place, date, people, and activities featured in the photographs. Series 18 consists of Kodachrome slides for the WRA lecture "The Wrong Ancestors", and slides of the Granada and Central Utah relocation centers.
Among the WRA photographers is Dorothea Lange. There are 691 photographs by Lange in the collection, 209 of the Manzanar Relocation Center (Series 8), and 482 of pre-evacuation activities in California cities (Series 14). Other WRA photographers include Francis Stewart, Hikaru Iwasaki, Joe McClelland, Tom Parker, Charles E. Mace, Gretchen Van Tassel, and others.

 

Form WRA 26 – Individual Record

The War Relocation Authority (WRA) recorded personal information about individuals interned at the ten Relocation Centers. Data in the forms was used by the WRA to support the management of individuals and the Relocation Centers. The forms were deposited at the Bancroft Library and the National Archives. The forms in the National Archives are arranged in individual “Evacuee Case Files.” The Bancroft Library contains the most complete and accurate set of Form 26 assembled into portfolios by the WRA. Due to the personal data contained in the written forms, certain restriction may apply to access Form 26 in the Bancroft Library.


Data Collected:

1.     Name 16.     Sex
1a.   Other names 17.     Race and spouse's race
2.     Relocation Center including entry date 18.     Marital status
3.     Assembly Center including entry date 19.     Relationship to head of family group
4.     Previous address 20.     Birthdate
5.     Parents and country of birth 20a.   Age
5a.   Father's occupation in the U.S. and Abroad 21.     Birthplace
6.     Person to notify in case of emergency 22.     Alien registration number
7.     Education 23.     Attending school
7a.   Degrees, education specializations, honors, and significant activities 24.     Grade
8.     Residence outside the U.S. 25.     Language
9.     Military or naval service 26.     Major activity or status
10.     Public assistance 27.     Occupation, includes 27a and 27b
11.     Pension 28.     Employment history
12.     Height 29.     Skills and hobbies
12a.   Weight 29a.   Social Security Account No.
13.     Physical condition 30.     Religion
14.     Individual number 31.     Additional information
15.     Family number  

The form also includes: Informant, Date of interview and Signature of interviewer

WRA From 26 front WRA Form 26 back
WRA Form 26 front WRA Form 26 back

 

Coding the forms

The data was coded by employees of the WRA and keypunched on IBM punch cards. One set of punch cards was deposited in the National Archives and another set was deposited in the Bancroft Library. National Archives documentation notes that the punch cards in their repository contain annotations, whereas, the ones at Bancroft do not. The WRA had a codebook and instructions for assigning codes to the data. The codebook specified which items were to be coded, symbols used, and how to deal with information present in the revised form (Form 26-Rev.1) that was not in the unrevised form. Form 26 was referred to as schedules in the code book. There was one verifier for every ten occupational coders (or classifiers) who analyzed the schedules coded for completeness, accuracy and consistency. Coders were to code using a red pencil. If an error in the code was found, the code was to be erased and the correct code inserted with a red pencil with an “X” in lead pencil to right of the corrected code. These edits and annotations are present on the forms.

Sample, codes for the camps:

1          Manzanar

2          Colorado River (Poston, Parker)

3          Gila River (Pima, Sacaton)

4          Tule Lake

5          Minidoka (Gooding)

6          Central Utah (Abraham)

7          Heart Mountain (Cody)

8          Granada (X-Y Granada)

9          Rohwer

0          Jerome

Electronic records

Staff at UC Berkeley transferred the data from the punch cards onto a 9-track computer tape in the 1960s. A tape without the names of individuals was generated for research use. Following the distribution of reparations in 1988, the Civil Rights Division, Department of Justice acquired a copy of the tape and subsequently transferred it to the National Archives. The National Archives used the tape to create a searchable database from the collection “War Relocation Authority Individual Internment Case Files” (https://aad.archives.gov/aad/). However, the dataset contained errors, either human (from the time of creation by the WRA on the punch cards) or machine. Additionally, not all the data in the forms was keypunched. The searchable database contains the file number which is written on Form 26 and may be used to locate the physical form in the collection at the Bancroft Library. Form 26 in the Bancroft Library contains the most accurate data and revisions created by staff at the WRA.