On the morning of December 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service attacked Pearl Harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, hours within receipt of the news, asked Congress to declare war on Japan, which they immediately acted upon. War was formally declared on December 8, 1941. On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. This order led to the assembly and evacuation of over 100,000 persons of Japanese ancestry on the U.S. the West Coast and in Hawaii. During World War II, the United States was fighting a war on two fronts: in the Pacific Theater, the U.S. was engaged in battle with Japan; and in Europe, the U.S. fought against Germany and Italy. However, only Japanese Americans were incarcerated en masse during the war, while citizens of German and Italian ancestry were only selectively interned.
The War Relocation Authority (WRA) was the United States agency created to assume jurisdiction over the Japanese and Japanese Americans evacuated from California, Oregon, and Washington. During its existence from March 1942 to 1946, the WRA controlled the administration of the relocation centers, administered the extensive resettlement program, and oversaw the details of the registration and segregation programs.
In December of 1944, President Roosevelt rescinded Executive Order 9066, and the WRA began a six-month process of releasing internees and shutting down the camps. On August 15, 1945 Imperial Japan surrendered, ending the war in the Pacific.
Alternately labeled "relocation camps," "concentration camps," or "evacuation centers," the WRA camps housed over 120,000 Japanese Americans for close to four years. There were eleven camps in California, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Texas and Arkansas. The majority (over 60%) of camp inhabitants were US citizens, children and young adults. The remainder had been U.S. residents for many years. Many had lived in this country between twenty and forty years. Persons born in Japan were not allowed to become naturalized citizens until 1952.
These are the ten main concentration camps built and operated by the War Relocation Authority to house the Japanese Americans forcibly removed from the West Coast by the Army in early 1942. After initial removal to "Assembly Centers," inmates were eventually transferred to these larger-scale long-term camps, which were intended to operate for the duration of the war.
Click the photo/link for each camp to see the digitized Bancroft collections from that site.