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Ellen Nakamura, Notice of Assignment and Discharge Papers

Descriptive

OriginInfo
DateCreated (encoding = w3cdtf); (qualifier = exact); (keyDate = yes)
1944-08-31
Extension
DescriptiveEvent
Type
Exhibition
Label
Invisible Restraints: Life and Labor at Seabrook Farms
DateTime (encoding = w3cdtf)
2016
AssociatedObject
Type
Exhibition section
Name
Internment and Paroled Work Release
Detail
The anti-Japanese sentiment that led to internment did not appear overnight. Since the nineteenth century, white Americans had made reference to the “Yellow peril,” which characterized Asian immigrants as invaders who came to take jobs and were unassimilable to “American” values. This discourse conflated Asian ancestry with perpetual foreignness. With the 1870 Naturalization Act, the 1907 “Gentlemen’s Agreement” between the United States and Japan, and the 1913 California Alien Land Law Act, as well as other federal and state legislation, Japanese immigrants faced legal barriers to citizenship, immigration, and property ownership respectively. In the late-1930s, representations of Japanese “otherness” fueled sensationalist journalism and stoked fears about espionage as tensions between the United States and Japan increased. Newspapers and magazines, especially on the West Coast, argued that Japanese Americans were to be seen as enemies if war broke out.

Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor provided the immediate justification for the internment of more than 120,000 Issei and Nisei. On February 19, 1942, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, giving military authorities the power to forcibly evacuate Japanese families from their homes on the West Coast for “national security” purposes. Under the auspices of defense, the Western Defense Command (the branch of the War Department responsible for the Pacific Coast) detained American citizens without any concrete evidence – a violation of their constitutional right to individual due process. After putting Issei and Nisei through what future Seabrook resident Iddy Asada called “the horrible stages of the evacuation bit” – a process in which nearly 75 percent of incarcerated families lost all of their assets, often to neighbors – the military sent detainees to internment camps farther inland. The policy of Japanese internment spread throughout the Western hemisphere. The Justice Department coordinated with countries such as Panama and Peru the incarceration of more than two thousand Latin Americans of Japanese ancestry as “enemy aliens,” who were then sent to the United States and stripped of their rights, property, and legal documents.

Internment proved controversial, from both a legal and propaganda standpoint, with the United States fighting a global campaign against fascism. Liberal and leftist Americans decried and protested the policy as an abject and unprecedented violation of the civil liberties of citizens, as did certain Protestant religious organizations. Moreover, the growing need for workers in the wartime economy prompted the government officials to question whether Issei and Nisei labor was being wasted as a wartime resource. From 1943 until the end of the war, the War Relocation Authority, the federal agency created to administer internment, gradually began a process of releasing internees. After swearing “unqualified allegiance to the United States” in a loyalty questionnaire, Issei and Nisei became eligible for supervised work release to locations east of the Mississippi River. (Nisei also became eligible for conscription.) The relocation of more than 2,500 internees to Seabrook Farms was supervised by the WRA’s Philadelphia office, who worked with already released individuals like Ellen Nakamura, to expand recruitment.

Even though released detainees were thoroughly vetted by both the WRA and the military through the loyalty questionnaire, paroled internees continued to encounter racism and suspicion. At Great Meadows in Warren County, New Jersey, local residents protested after farmer George Kowalick agreed to accept five Japanese American laborers from the WRA and, as the Newark Evening News reported in 1943, formed a “secret and self-styled ‘reception committee’ dedicated to keeping the Japs out.” After a barn on his property suspiciously went up in flames, Kowalick asked the WRA to take the laborers back. The mayor of Great Meadows, John Kane, blamed the parolees themselves for the unrest: “We have no objection to the nationality of these men, but we do object to their character if they instigate animosity or infringe upon law and order.”
Relationship
Forms part of
AssociatedObject
Type
Exhibition caption
Relationship
Forms part of
Name
Ellen Nakamura, Notice of Assignment and Discharge Papers
Detail
As a Relocation Guidance Committee Secretary, Nakamura received $19 a month in wages.

Courtesy of the Nakamura Family
AssociatedObject
Type
Placement in digital exhibition
Relationship
Forms part of
Name
33
Subject
HierarchicalGeographic
Country
UNITED STATES
State
New Jersey
County
Cumberland County
City
Seabrook Farms (Seabrook, N.J.)
Genre (authority = AAT)
documents
PhysicalDescription
InternetMediaType
image/jpeg
InternetMediaType
application/pdf
Extent
1 image
TypeOfResource
StillImage
Subject (authority = NJCCS)
Temporal
The Great Depression and World War II (1929-1945)
Subject (authority = LCSH)
Topic
Japanese Americans
TitleInfo
Title
Ellen Nakamura, Notice of Assignment and Discharge Papers
Language
LanguageTerm (authority = ISO 639-3:2007); (type = text)
English
Abstract (type = description)
As a Relocation Guidance Committee Secretary, Nakamura received $19 a month in wages.
Name (type = personal)
NamePart (type = family)
Nakamura
NamePart (type = given)
Ellen Noguchi
Role
RoleTerm (type = text); (authority = marcrelator)
Associated name
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TitleInfo
Title
Seabrook Farms
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SBFarms
Location
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NjSaECC
Location
PhysicalLocation (authority = marcorg); (displayLabel = Rutgers University. Libraries)
NjR
Identifier (type = doi)
doi:10.7282/T3PR7Z21
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Rights

RightsDeclaration (AUTHORITY = NJDH); (ID = rulibRdec0001)
This resource may be copyright protected. You may make use of this resource, with proper attribution, for educational and other non-commercial uses only. Contact the contributing organization to obtain permission for reproduction, publication, and commercial use.
Copyright
Status
Copyright protected
Availability
Status
Open
Reason
Permission or license
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Technical

RULTechMD (ID = TECHNICAL1)
ContentModel
Document
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