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Collection of Documents Related to the Incarceration of Japanese Americans at Tule Lake Relocation Center


Held at: Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division [Contact Us]

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

United States

The United States War Relocation Authority (WRA) was the federal agency created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1942 to manage the approximately 120,000 Japanese Americans whom the government forcibly removed from the West Coast during World War II. Initially led by Milton Eisenhower and later Dillon S. Miller, the WRA constructed and operated a network of American concentration camps where people of Japanese descent, including American citizens, were detained until the end of the war.

Consists of a collection of thirty-one miscellaneous documents concerning the incarceration of Japanese Americans by the United States government during World War II at the Tule Lake Relocation Center (later Tule Lake Segregation Center) and other American concentration camps. Most of the materials in this collection relate to a 1943 loyalty questionnaire and the resulting segregation at Tule Lake of those labeled as "disloyal," which led to thousands of incarcerated Japanese Americans deciding to renounce their U.S. citizenship and apply for repatriation to Japan. Materials document resistance efforts by organized groups, such as Sokuji Kikoku Hoshi-dan, as well as individual acts of resistance by incarcerees.

The loyalty questionnaires were officially known as WRA Forms 304-A ("Statement of United States Citizen of Japanese Ancestry") and 126 (later 126 Revised, entitled "War Relocation Authority Application for Leave Clearance"). These forms asked similar questions and were required to be filled out by all Japanese American adults incarcerated across the country. Those who answered "no" to Questions 27 and 28 of Form 126 were labeled as disloyal, and the Tule Lake Relocation Center was reconstituted as the Tule Lake Segregation Center in 1943 to house these so-called "disloyal" incarcerees.

One cluster of related material includes documents concerning Benjamin Yamada and Tom Shizuo Yamada, two Nisei brothers who were born in Laramie, Wyoming, and forcibly removed to Tule Lake. Four documents trace Benjamin Yamada's renunciation of U.S. citizenship, request for repatriation to Japan, and then request for cancellation of repatriation after the war. Others relate to Tom Shizuo Yamada, including a 1944 letter from the Spanish Consulate acknowledging the receipt of a letter he sent regarding the birth of his son, Koji, and his desire for Koji to have Japanese citizenship.

Other documents include a War Relocation Authority Route List detailing the reassignment of over one hundred incarcerated people, indicated as candidates for repatriation, from Granada Relocation Center in Colorado to Tule Lake in California in September 1943; a Sokuji Kikoku Hoshi-dan roster listing over 160 members, including leaders Kinzo Wakayama and Zenshiro Tachibana; a petition of Japanese Americans at Tule Lake against Forms 304-A and 126; a Tule Lake respondent's selected answers to Forms 304-A or 126 that includes "no" responses for questions 27 and 28; a special broadside issue of the Tulean Dispatch, a Tule Lake newspaper with a revised question 28 from the loyalty questionnaire, as re-issued by Dillon S. Myer of the War Relocation Authority; and an application for repatriation (form I-540) filled out in protest by a Japanese American incarceree as an "Application for Non-Repatriation" that contains responses attesting to the form's failure to provide Japanese Americans full rights as citizens ("This is my land and my country by birth and choice. Therefore I expect to remain in the United States permanently.")

There are also letters from Masaru Hatano and Toshio Fujimoto, who were incarcerated at Tule Lake, to Edward J. Ennis, Director of the Justice Department's "Alien Enemy Control Unit," indicating a desire "to renounce…United States nationality in accordance with the recent government promulgation;" a 1943 communication from the United States Department of Justice Immigration and Naturalization Service informing those who had renounced their American citizenship that they must register as "aliens;" a 1944 report titled "What Is This So-Called 'Status Quo'" that concerns recent discussions among those incarcerated at Tule Lake to return to regular work inside the camp following protests in late 1943; a mimeographed message from the Spanish Consulate relaying a "message of hope" from the Japanese government to the "the Japanese subjects resident in the United States;" and a January 1945 issue of Hokoku, a newsletter issued by the Sokuji Kikoku Hoshi-dan at Tule Lake. Additional materials include a blank "Alien Registration Form" and "Community Activities Section Application for Work" form; and a printed "Message from the Director of the War Relocation Authority," issued by Dillon S. Myer discussing relocation, property, and welfare assistance for incarcerees during "the final phase of the Relocation Program." Materials from other American concentration camps include packets of documents related to Haruno Tenabe and Seiemon Tenabe, both of whom were held at Minidoka Relocation Center, each with an "Alien Travel Permit" to return to Boise, Idaho, dated October 1, 1945, and a pamphlet containing "Instructions for Aliens of Japanese Nationality Leaving Relocation Centers."

Purchased from McBride Rare Rooks in 2022 (AM 2023-006).

This collection was processed by Kelly Bolding in July 2022. Finding aid written by Kelly Bolding in July 2022, incorporating some description provided by the dealer, as well as terminology guidance from the Japanese American Citizens League's Power of Words Handbook and Densho.

No materials were removed from the collection during 2022 processing.

Manuscripts Division
Finding Aid Author
Kelly Bolding
Finding Aid Date
Processing of this collection was sponsored by the Delafield fund.
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Single copies may be made for research purposes. No further duplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to Special Collections Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Collection Inventory

Benjamin and Tom Shizuo Yamada Documents, 1941-1945. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Documents, 1941-1945. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

War Relocation Authority Route List, 1943. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

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