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How to Help Japanese American Student Relocation, 1943

Photo: Archives / AFSC

The National Japanese American Student Relocation Council, an ecumenical group with the support of AFSC, produced this eight-panel, B&W brochure. It was designed to facilitate college enrollment of Japanese-American students trapped in “the projects” (i.e., internment camps) on campuses “east of the West Coast Defense Area.”

The brochure puts effort into helping the reader understand the mindset of these young Americans of Japanese ancestry. For example, “The greatest hardships are the lack of privacy and the stigma of segregation on the grounds of race, or, even more, the absence of any important activity and opportunity to move toward one great goal.”

Interested students go through the Association, which then approaches the college; if there’s a match, the Association takes the college acceptance to the War Relocation Authority, which then approves the enrollment. 

The “great universities and graduate schools are excluded”—even Quaker schools such as Swarthmore—because they have sensitive government contracts. However, many smaller schools have worked out well, according to the brochure. Community acceptance is vital and colleges must secure evidence that people of the community will not make the situation “intolerable for any student who might be sent to that city.”

As always, funding was an issue. About 2,000 students wanted to apply in the fall of 1943, which meant $250,000 might be required to pay for school, room, board, transportation, books, etc. At best, the students might have $200-300 of their own to contribute.

While touting the outstanding academic achievements of these students, the text also warns that limiting the number of Nisei at any one school is best practice. In the closing section called “A ‘Nisei’ Speaks,” an unnamed student asks to be accepted and allowed to intermingle on campus, not to be isolated as a group, “the objects of long and curiosity-filled stares.”

Created Date 
Feb 3, 2016

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