Executive Order 9066: Personal Narratives and Memoirs

Updated: April 19, 2017

Seventy-five years ago on February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, authorizing the evacuation of all persons deemed a threat to national security from the West Coast to relocation centers further inland. By June, over 110,000 men, women, and children of Japanese ancestry (two-thirds were American citizens) were confined in these isolated, fenced, and guarded internment camps. 

The following is just a partial list of the many titles in LAPL’s collection about “Japanese Americans Evacuation and Relocation, 1942-1945,” the official Library of Congress subject heading for this dark chapter in U.S. history. The emphasis here is on personal narratives and memoirs of those who lived through internment.

Beyond Words: Images from America's Concentration Camps
Gesensway, Deborah, 1960-
Call Number: 940.547273 G389

Paintings, drawings, and sketches document life in the internment camps. The creators share their memories in the accompanying interviews.

Birthright of Barbed Wire: The Santa Anita Assembly Center for the Japanese
Lehman, Anthony L.
Call Number: 940.547273 L523

Most people know Santa Anita racetrack as the site of the Breeder’s Cup and other prestigious races, but few know that Santa Anita was one of the racetracks and fairgrounds pressed into service as temporary assembly centers while inland relocation camps were constructed. Author Lehman shares details of daily life in the Santa Anita center. Behind barbed wire, the Assembly Centers were in essence small cities (over 18,000 lived at Santa Anita), with barber shops, bank branches, newspapers, sports activities and art classes.

Citizen 13660
Okubo, Mine
Call Number: 940.547273 O41 2014

By turns tragic and humorous, Okubo’s drawings and witty text document life in the Japanese internment camps in this early precursor to the graphic memoir.

Desert Exile: The Uprooting of a Japanese-American Family
Uchida, Yoshiko
Call Number: 940.547273 U17

Yoshiko Uchida grew up in Berkeley and was a student at Cal in the spring of 1942. This is her personal account of her family’s life before the war and during their internment.

Executive Order 9066: The Internment of 110,000 Japanese Americans
Conrat, Maisie.
Call Number: 940.547273 C754

Collection of photographs of the Japanese American evacuation that have strength both as images and as historical documents.

Gasa Gasa Girl Goes to Camp: A Nisei Youth Behind A World War II Fence
Havey, Lily Yuriko Nakai
Call Number: 940.547273 H387

Looking back as an adult, Havey recounts her youth growing up in Southern California and her dreams of climbing the Hollywood sign. When she was 10, she thought her family was going camping. In actuality, they were evacuated to Santa Anita racetrack where they lived in a horse stall before being transferred to the Amache Relocation Center in Colorado.

Only What We Could Carry: The Japanese American Internment Experience
Call Number: 940.547273 O585

This anthology of letters, diaries, poetry, sketches, cartoons, photographs, and newspaper editorials reflect the devastating impact of the internment on Japanese Americans.

Stanley Hayami: Nisei Son - His Diary, Letters, & Story: From American Concentration Camp to Battlefield, 1942-1945
Hayami, Stanley Kunio, 1925-1945.
Call Number: 940.547273 H4125

Sent to Heart Mountain in Wyoming with his family, sixteen-year-old Stanley Hayami began keeping a diary in November 1942. In many ways, his diary is like that of any teenager, full of hopes and dreams and concerns about grades and the future. The drawings and sketches he added to the diary show his artistic talents. Hayami’s diary is in the permanent collection of the Japanese American National Museum.

Terminal Island: Lost Communities of Los Angeles Harbor
Hirahara, Naomi
Call Number: 979.41 L881Hir

Numerous archival photographs enhance the little known story of the Japanese fishing community on Terminal Island. With the issuance of Executive Order 9066, the residents had 48 hours to evacuate. Their homes and the community were subsequently destroyed.

Bruckman Rare Book Friends Award, 2016.

The View from Within: Japanese American Art from the Internment Camps, 1942-1945
Call Number: 709.73 V6715

Catalog to the exhibit held at the UCLA Wight Art Gallery in 1992 to commemorate the 50-year anniversary of the Japanese American Internment.