Japanese American Incarceration Era Collection

Challenging Patriotism

Out of the 120,000 individuals moved to the assembly centers, about 70,000 of them were American citizens. In just a matter of days ordinary civilians were regarded as threats to national security, rounded up, segregated, and then asked to prove their patriotism. Many were disenchanted by this cruelty and sought repatriation to Japan.

By February 8, 1943, all detainees seventeen years and older filled out questionnaires that tested their loyalty. The “Application for Leave Clearance” and “Statement of United States Citizenship of Japanese Ancestry,” also known as “Loyalty Questionnaires,” were created by the War Relocation Authority and the US Army. They were circulated among the detainees while the Army started to voluntarily recruit at the camps. The DSS Form 304A, targeted at second-generation males, and Form WRA-126, for first-generation persons and second-generation females, contained poorly worded questions that created controversy for families and individuals trying to answer to their best interests of the individual and family as a whole.

This government abuse did not go unnoticed by other Americans. Various organizations and individuals spoke out about the severe treatment of innocent people. The objects below represent this national tension between the American government, the American people who spoke out, and those who suffered.