July 20, 2009
The book reproduces photographs by a Nisei photographer working for the WRA, complete with the original lengthy captions directed at two audiences: 1) potentially hostile members of outside communities, and 2) incarcerated Japanese Americans reluctant to meet those potentially hostile community members. These staged-looking photos of Nisei happy on college campuses and cozy in new homes feel faintly surreal if you’ve heard true stories of the poverty and discrimination that released detainees faced.
A past “From the Archive” article focuses on the government’s attempts to shape the public’s opinion about the “loyal and law-abiding” Japanese Americans appearing in their midst. In researching our digital archive for the article, I came across a choice quote from one of our interviewees. Peggie Nishimua Bain told us how she struggled to secure decent housing in Chicago:
So much for that photo opp. We hope to see you at the book talk.