Japanese-American Internment Camps in Idaho and the West, 1942-1945
Issued Feb. 19, 1942, two months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Presidential Executive Order 9066 made possible the removal of American citizens of Japanese descent from the West Coast. The three westernmost states were designated as a defense area from which any or all persons could be excluded at the discretion of the military commander. In March 1942 President Roosevelt established the War Relocation Board, and the complete evacuation of Japanese-Americans from the West Coast was ordered as a security measure. Ten concentration camps were established that would eventually hold more than 110,000 people.
Camp Minidoka was located near Hunt, Idaho, 20 miles northeast of Twin Falls. In August 1942 the government began transporting Japanese-Americans to the camp via train. Most Minidoka residents came from Seattle and Portland and were given notice only one week before being forced to move. Ten thousand people (making Minidoka Idaho’s eighth largest city) were interned in tar-paper barracks that had no insulation, running water, or interior walls, and that were heated by coal-burning stoves. Barbed wire, guard towers, armed guards, and watch dogs secured the 950 acre site.
Despite forced internment, many Japanese-Americans served bravely in the U.S. army. An all Japanese-American military unit — the 442nd Regimental Combat Team — fought in the Italian campaigns, and became the most decorated unit in the war, winning 18,000 medals. Minidoka had the highest enlistment — and casualty — rates of any US internment camp: over 1,000 camp residents served overseas. Seattle recently renamed its US Federal Courthouse building after William Kenzo Nakamura, a Minidoka resident who joined the 442nd and was killed by a German sniper in Italy on July 4, 1944.
The last family left Camp Minidoka in October 1945. In 1979 Minidoka was added to the National Register of Historic Places. In 1990 the US Government began making $20,000 payments to camp survivors. A memorial to the camp internees was dedicated in Washington DC in November 2000, and in January 2001 President Clinton named Minidoka a National Monument.
BOOKS AND VIDEOS
- Bishop, Ronald; with Morgan Dudkewitz, Alissa Falcone, and Renee Daggett. Community Newspapers and the Japanese-American Incarceration Camps: Community not Controversy. Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 2015.
- Chuman, Frank. The Bamboo People: The Law and Japanese-Americans. Del Mar, California: Publisher’s Inc., 1976.
- Daniels, Roger. Concentration camps USA: Japanese Americans and World War II. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1971.
- Daniels, Roger. Concentration camps, North America: Japanese in the United States and Canada during World War II. Malabar, Florida: Krieger Pub., 1993. Reissued 1993 with updating.
- Davis, Daniel S. Behind Barbed Wire: The Imprisonment of Japanese Americans During World War II. New York: Dutton, 1982.
- Fiset, Louis, and Gail M. Nomura, editors. Nikkei in the Pacific Northwest : Japanese Americans & Japanese Canadians in the twentieth century. Seattle, Washington: Center for the Study of the Pacific Northwest in association with University of Washington Press, 2005. 1st edition.
- Garrett, Jessie A., and Ronald C. Larson, editors. Camp and Community: Manzanar and the Owens Valley. Fullerton, California: California State University, Japanese American Oral History Project, 1977.
- Gesensway, Deborah. Beyond Words: Images from America’s Concentration Camps. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1987.
- Kiyota, Minoru. Beyond Loyalty: The Story of a Kibei. Honolulu, Hawaii: University of Hawai’i Press, 1997.
- Smith, Page. Democracy on Trial: The Japanese-American Evacuation and Relocation in World War II. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995.
- Tateishi, John, compiler; foreword by Roger Daniels. And Justice For All: An.Oral History of the Japanese American Detention Camps. Seattle, Washington: University of Washington Press, 1999.
- Cahan, Richard. Un-American : the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. Chicago, Illinois : CityFiles Press, 
- Uchida, Yoshiko. Desert Exile: The Uprooting of a Japanese American Family. Seattle, Washington: University of Washington Press, 1982.
- Houston, Jeanne Wakatsuki. Farewell to Manzanar. Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin, 2002.
- Girdner, Audrie. Great Betrayal: The Evacuation of the Japanese-Americans During World War II. New York: Macmillan, 1969.
- Shrontz Roberts-Wright, Bessie. Hunt for Idaho: Evacuees 1942-1945 and Homesteaders 1947-1949/T.P. Minidoka Prisoner of War Camp 1942-1945. [Place of publication not identified]: [publisher not identified], 1994.
- United States War Relocation Authority; and Edward Holland Spicer; Asael T Hansen; Katherine Luomala; Marvin K Opler. Impounded people: Japanese-Americans in the relocation centers. Tucson, Arizona: University of Arizona Press, 2016.
- Fiset, Louis. Imprisoned Apart: The World War II Correspondence of an Issei Couple. Seattle, Washington: University of Washington Press, 1997.
- Kitagawa, Daisuke. Issei and Nisei; The Internment Years. [Place of publication not identified]: Continuum, 1976.
- Shimomura, Roger. Journey to Minidoka: The Paintings of Roger Shimomura. Ogden, Utah: Collett Art Gallery, Weber State College, 1983.
- Shimomura, Roger. Minidoka Revisited: the paintings of Roger Shimomura. Clemson, S.C.: Lee Gallery, Clemson University; Seattle, Washington: Distributed by University of Washington Press, 2005.
- Taylor, Sandra C; Roger Daniels; Leonard J Arrington; Harry H L Kitano. Japanese Americans: From Relocation to Redress. Seattle, Washington: University of Washington Press, 2013.
- Taylor, Sandra C. Jewel of the Desert: Japanese American Internment at Topaz. Berkeley, California: University of California Press, 1993.
- Irons, Peter H. Justice at War: The Story of the Japanese American Internment Cases. Berkeley, Calif : University of California Press, 1993.
- Armor, John, and Peter Wright; photographs by Ansel Adams. Manzanar. New York: Vintage Books, 1989.
- Minidoka Interlude, September, 1942-October 1943. United States: Thomas Kaname Takeuchi Family, 1995. – Originally published: Hunt, Idaho: Residents of Minidoka Relocation Center, 1943?
- Ichihashi, Yamato. Morning Glory, Evening Shadow: Yamato Ichihashi and his Internment Writings, 1942-1945. Standford, California: Stanford University Press, 1997.
- Sone, Monica Itoi. Nisei Daughter. Seattle, Washington: University of Washington Press, 2014.
- Inada, Lawson Fusao, editor; preface by Patricia Wakida; afterword by William Hohri. Only What We Could Carry: The Japanese American Internment Experience. Berkeley, California: Heyday Books; San Francisco, California: California Historical Society, 2000.
- Daniels, Roger. Prisoners Without Trial: Japanese American in World War II. New York: Hill and Wang, 1993. 1st edition.
- Mackey, Mike, editor. Remembering Heart Mountain: Essays on Japanese American Internment in Wyoming. Powell, Wyoming:[Western History Publications, 1998
- Kessler, Lauren. Stubborn Twig: Three Generations in the Life of a Japanese American Family. New York: Random House, 1993.
- Tanabe, Barbara; Kurt Horn; Tony Read. The Fence at Minidoka. Videorecording. Seattle, Washington?: KOMO TV?, 1974?
- Obata, Chiura. Topaz Moon: Chiura Obata’s Art of the Internment. Berkeley, California: Heyday Books, 2000.
- Murray, Alice Yang. What Did the Internment of Japanese Americans Mean? (Historians at Work). Boston, Massachusetts: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2000. 1st edition.
- Okihiro, Gary Y.; and Joan Myers, photographer. Whispered Silences: Japanese Americans and World War II. Seattle, Washington: University of Washington Press, 1996. 1st edition.
- Weglyn, Michi. Years Of Infamy: The Untold Story of America’s Concentration Camps. Seattle, Washington: University of Washington Press, 2003, 1996.
WAR RELOCATION AUTHORITY (WRA) MATERIAL
U.S. Department of the Interior.
- Administrative Highlights of the WRA Program.
- Community Government in War Relocation Centers
- The Evacuated People: A Quantitative Description.
- Legal and Constitutional Phases of the WRA Program.
- Personal Justice Denied: Report of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians.
- People in Motion: The Postwar Adjustment of the Evacuated Japanese Americans.
- Relocation of Japanese-Americans
- The Relocation Program
- Wartime Exile: The Exclusion of the Japanese Americans From the West Coast.
- The Wartime Handling of Evacuee Property.
- WRA: A Story of Human Conservation.
- “The Japanese American Experience in Idaho,” Robert C. Sims. Idaho Yesterdays Spring 1978 v.22 n.1 p.2-10
- “’My Dear Bishop’: a Report From Minidoka,” Jane Chase. Idaho Yesterdays Summer 2000 v.44 n.2 p.3-6
- “’You Don’t Need to Wait Any Longer to Get Out’: Japanese American Evacuees as Farm Laborers During World War II,” Robert C. Sims. Idaho Yesterdays Summer 2000 v.44 n.2 pp. 7-13
COLLECTIONS AND WEB SITES
- Densho Encyclopedia
- Robert C. Sims Collection on Minidoka and Japanese Americans, 1891-2014 – Boise State University Special Collections and Archives
- Japanese Internment – National Archives
- Minidoka National Historic Site – National Park Service
- The Kooskia Internment Camp Archaeological Project: University of Idaho
- Japanese Internment Camp Newspapers – Library of Congress
Research and text by Ellen Druckenbrod, Boise Public Library. Updated by Ronnie Joiner April 5, 2019.