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America's Concentration Camps Exhibition Set For Ellis Island Immigration Museum In March 1998

Los Angeles

The award-winning exhibition, America’s Concentration Camps: Remembering the Japanese American Experience, which drew record crowds to the Japanese American National Museum in 1994 and 1995, will be a featured exhibit at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum in New York City beginning on March 30, 1998.

The exhibition provides the broad outline of the experience of 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry who were unconstitutionally forced into U.S. concentration camps by the American government during World War II. Ten camps, located in remote areas of seven states west of the Mississippi River, were run by the War Relocation Authority. An 11th camp at Crystal City, Texas, was run by the Justice Department and held German and Italian internees as well as Japanese Americans. Japanese Peruvians, kidnapped by their own government and sent to the United States, were among the internees. Today, Japanese Peruvians are seeking redress which was granted by the U.S. government in 1988 to the majority of Japanese Americans forced to move by the government.

Said Irene Hirano, President and Executive Director of the Museum, “Presenting this exhibition at Ellis Island provides a unique opportunity to make this information accessible to many new audiences-national, international and school groups-that may not be familiar with the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II.”

Among the features of America’s Concentration Camps are the large table maps of each of the 11 camps and cases filled with rare artifacts. The original exhibition was interactive, allowing former inmates to register upon visiting the Museum and have their photographs taken. Former inmates were allowed to provide a variety information and/or memories from their experiences, including their former camp, barracks address and time of incarceration. The information was filed into three-ring binders with their pictures, so other former inmates and visitors could look up their friends, relatives and individuals they had not seen since the war. By the end of the exhibition, former inmates had filled 40 to 50 volumes of information sheets and photographs.

Also, one of the most popular interactive features was the placing of a miniature barracks building by former inmates on the camp maps. Former inmates who were the first to register at a particular camp address were asked to take the miniatures and place them on the camp map at their barracks site. When America’s Concentration Camps closed in October of 1995, over 2,200 miniature barracks buildings had been placed on the 11 maps.



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