Shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, authorizing the secretary of war to designate military zones within the U.S. from which "any or all persons may be excluded." While the order was not targeted at any specific group, it became the basis for the mass relocation and internment of some 110,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry, including both U.S. citizens and non-citizens. In March 1942, Lieutenant General John L. DeWitt, commander of the U.S. Army Western Defense Command, issued several public proclamations which established a massive exclusion zone along the west coast and demanded that all persons of Japanese ancestry report to civilian assembly centers. On short notice, thousands were forced to close businesses, abandon farms and homes, and move into remote internment camps, also called relocation centers. Some of the detainees were repatriated to Japan, some moved to other parts of the U.S. outside of the exclusion zones, and a number even enlisted with the U.S. Army, but most simply endured their internment in frustrated resignation. In January 1944, a Supreme Court ruling halted the detention of U.S. citizens without cause. The exclusion order was rescinded, and the Japanese Americans began to leave the camps, most returning to rebuild their former lives. The last camp closed in 1946, and by the end of the 20th century some $1.6 billion in reparations were paid to detainees and their descendants by the U.S. government. See also color film of the camps in our video channel.
Tom Kobayashi stands in the south fields of the Manzanar Relocation Center, at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, in California's Owens Valley, in 1943. Famed photographer Ansel Adams traveled to Manzanar in 1943 to document the Relocation Center and the Japanese Americans interned there.
This store owned by a man of Japanese ancestry is closed following evacuation orders in Oakland, California, in April of 1942. After the attack on Pearl Harbor the owner had placed the "I Am An American" sign in the store front window.
Two plainclothes men, left, watch as Japanese aliens are removed from their homes on Terminal Island, a vital Naval and Shipbuilding center in Los Angeles, California, on February 3, 1942. Some 400 male Japanese aliens -- Terminal Island residents -- were rounded up early on February 2 by 180 federal, city and county officers.
On a brick wall beside an air raid shelter poster, exclusion orders were posted at First and Front Streets in San Francisco, California, directing the removal of persons of Japanese ancestry from the first part of San Francisco to be affected by the evacuation. The order was issued April 1, 1942, by Lieutenant General J.L. DeWitt, and directed evacuation from this section by noon on April 7, 1942.
Japanese heads of family and persons living alone form a line outside Civil Control Station located in the Japanese American Citizens League Auditorium in San Francisco, California, to appear for "processing" in response to Civilian Exclusion Order Number 20, on April 25, 1942
How the evacuation of Japanese from Seattle would affect a second grade class in a local school is shown in these two views in Seattle, Washington, on March 27, 1942. At the top is a crowded classroom with many Japanese pupils and at the bottom is the same class without the Japanese students.
A farmhouse in a rural section of Mountain View, California, where farmers of Japanese ancestry raised market garden crops. Evacuees from this and other military areas were later moved to War Relocation Authority centers.
Many evacuated children attended Raphael Weill Public School, in San Francisco, California. Rachel Karumi, photographed here in 1942, will be among them.
A farewell letter posted in a window of T.Z. Shiota, an importer in San Francisco's Chinatown, in April of 1942, prior to evacuation of residents of Japanese ancestry. The final paragraph reads: "At this hour of evacuation when the innocents suffer with the bad, we bid you, dear friends of ours, with the words of beloved Shakespeare, 'PARTING IS SUCH SWEET SORROW'."