Monday, January 4, 2010

Featured Manuscript Collection: January/February

Edna A. Miller Collection
MSS 02-05

Finding Aid

Edna A. Miller served as secretary to Ray Johnston, director of the Rohwer Relocation Center in Desha County, Arkansas, from 1942 to 1945. This small, but rich Butler Center collection includes materials collected during her time at the Relocation Center, as well as class material from her time as a college student. Of particular interest is wartime writing and evaluation by the War Relocation Authority itself on the relocation process, a Red Cross Yearbook from the camp that includes artwork by Henry Sugimoto, and copies of camp newspapers. Also included are a number of photographs taken by internees or camp staff. Miller's academic papers included in the collection are based on her experience in working with the internees.

Sergeant Joseph (MP) and Sergeant David Hirahara with a Small Girl, Undated. 5 x 3 Black and White. Taken by a Military Policeman.
Location in Collection: Box 3, Item 33.

The cover of Red Cross, Rohwer Relocation Center Unit, 1945. Published by the Rohwer Red Cross Unit to Commemorate Red Cross Activities at the Center, 1943-1945. Lists Names of Rohwer Men Killed in Battle. Illustrations by Henry Sugimoto.

The following quotes are but two examples of the scope of the writing included in the publications found in this collection, from lighthearted humor to serious reflection.

The first one is from the final edition of the El Joaquin, camp newspaper at the Stockton Assembly Center, first stop for many of the Japanese Americans; the edition was devoted to preparing the evacuees for their transfer to the Relocation Center in Arkansas. Clint A. Branum, chief of the Center's supply section, wrote:
Assuming that Arkansas will be the next stop, I have taken the trouble to look up a few facts concerning the country and am listing them here for the benefit of those interested.

First: As you trains rolls along you can keep watching out the window and when you get to where the cattle are keeping up with the train, you will be in Arkansas. Of course, you can't depend on this because sometimes the trains out-run the cattle on a down grade.

I checked up on the mosquito situation and found some of the rumors to be exaggerated. Only last night I was talking to a Stockton mosquito just returned from a visit down south. He was ashamed to find that his Arkansas cousins are so small that it takes two of them to drag off a horse.

Lloyd "B Ration" Shaffer gave me the low-down on the fishing. According to him, the catfish are so big that everyone carries a saddle horse in their tackle box to land 'em with.

You will find the opossum to be a very useful animal. To cook them, you put them in a pan and cover complete with sweet potatoes. Bake rapidly for two days. Then, throw the opossum away, and if you like burnt sweet potatoes you have a delicious meal. 'Possum grease is a recognized sure-cure remedy for chapped hands, hiccoughs, falling hair, and worn boots.

Seriously speaking, in spite of the numerous gags that have been written about Arkansas, I am sure that you will find it a pleasant place to live, and I wish you all a full share of good luck and happiness.

The second example is much more serious and was written by an internee. The following poem was included in The Pen, the 1943 camp yearbook published by the staff of The Outpost, the Rohwer Relocation Center camp newspaper.

"We are but refugees"

We are but refugees
in the land of the free,
We're not from overseas,
this is our own country.

We were born and bred here,
our parents, Japanese.
Yet, within our nation dear,
we still are refugees.

America, we ask you why,
you leave us high and dry?
America, what is our sin?
On you, our hopes we pin.

Must we beg for liberty:
Must we live in poverty,
Poverty of a sterile life,
Victims of internal strife?
Must we seek another land,
where as free men, we can stand!

Give us your answer, America!
the time for it is now.
Give us the truth, America!
the fate that you endow.

Our loyalty to the nation
cannot be a realization,
Until wrongs are somewhat righted
and rights are reinstated.

Tomorrow may be a little late;
for, time may change our hearts.
Today, we want to know our fate,
before our faith departs.

Don't let color lines be drawn;
for, evil will be the spawn,
and victory fo democracy
will lead to an autocracy. . . .
The rule of class, of wealth and race,
The rule of guns, and bombs and mace;
And endless years of constant wars
And dying men, by countless scores.

Without a single thought of hate,
a hundred thousand strong, we wait,
Waiting for the call to sound
saying -- freedom has won its round.

January 1943

Visit the Encyclopedia of Arkansas to learn more about Japanese-American Relocation Camps, particularly Rohwer and Jerome.

Contributed by Shirley Schuette, Manuscripts Department.


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