7 Resources About the Internment of Japanese Americans

By
Adee Braun

In the April 2017 narrative nonfiction article "Betrayed By America," Scope editor and author Kristin Lewis tells the story of Bill Hiroshi Shishima—an 11-year-old American boy of Japanese heritage who, along with 120,000 other Japanese Americans, was forced to live in an internment camp during World War II.

To go deeper into this topic, we've put together a list of incredible resources and essential questions for you and your students. As a culminating activity, we recommend you break students into groups to create a multimedia exhibition. 

 

Exhibition Project

Have students work in groups to put together an exhibition about the internment of Japanese Americans, using information from the Scope article "Betrayed By America" and the resources below. Encourage students to get creative with the way they present the information. The exhibition can be multimedia and can include audio, video, posters, poetry, presentations, speeches, and even a play.

 

Here are a few ideas:

  • Imagine you are living in 1941. Create your own news coverage in the form of a newspaper article, broadcast, or series of live tweets.
  • After reading the poem "Children of Camp" which accompanies the article "Betrayed By America," complete the Poetry Analysis Activity at Scope Online, and then write your own poem about life in an internment camp.
  • Create a play about another Japanese American who lived through internment using one of the many video interviews on the Densho organization's archives website. (TIP: Use any of Scope's historical plays as a model text.)
  • Put together an exhibit about the internment of Japanese Americans, including photographs, posters, and video. Appoint one group member to be the museum tour guide.

 

Essential Questions

  • What is the connection between fear and prejudice?
  • What is the cost of racism?
  • Why is it important to be mindful of history?
  • How can we learn from the mistakes of the past?

 

Resources

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

 

1. The New York Times' photo slideshow featuring rarely seen photos from the time of the internment of Japanese Americans

2. Densho's timeline of events related to the internment of Japanese Americans

3. Video interview of Bill Hiroshi Shishima. NOTE: To view this content on the Densho organization's website, you must log in as 'guest@densho.org' and use the password 'guest'. All 26 segments of the interview can be viewed here. Below are the segments in which Bill discusses life at Heart Mountain:

“Memories of the train ride to Heart Mountain”

“Attending school in camp”

“Coping with the unpleasant living conditions in camp”

4. Website of "A More Perfect Union," a Smithsonian exhibition about the internment of Japanese Americas

5. President Roosevelt's famous address to the United Nations "A Date Which Will Live in Infamy" following the attack on Pearl Harbor. Watch a video here, or read the transcript here.

6. Speech by President Ronald Reagan after signing the Japanese American Internment Compensation Bill in 1988. A print version of the speech can be found here.

7. Scope's Behind the Scenes video in which author Kristin Lewis discusses how she researched and wrote the article "Betrayed By America"

No Comments
All comments are moderated before publishing.