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11.7.3a Letter from Minnie Umeda to Mrs. Wegella [sic]

Personal letter describes life thus far at the center; requests straw hats for her and her husband and that Mrs. Waegell check on her house. Umeda mentions a lack of activities and of greenery at the center, as well as noise in the barracks.
Umeda, Minnie
15500
Correspondence

Umeda, Minnie, Letter from Minnie Umeda to Mrs. Wegella, June 8, 1942. Letter. California State University, Sacramento, Department of Special Collections and University Archives, Japanese American Archival Collection. https://cdm16855.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p16855coll4/id/421/rec/7

During World War II, Minnie Umeda, a Japanese American woman, wrote this letter in which she describes how relocation and internment affected her life. Notice how she asks her neighbor to check on her house and garden in her absence. What do you think happened to the homes and businesses that Japanese Americans were forced to abandon? In addition to loss of income and property, people who faced internment had their lives and futures thrown into disarray. More than four decades after the war, the US government issued an apology and attempted to pay reparations to those interned — but imagine how the experience of being interned might affect someone’s future. If it was you, would you be more or less likely to support your government’s decisions? How does internment complicate our understanding of civil rights and equality?

During World War II, Minnie Umeda, a Japanese American woman, wrote this letter in which she describes how relocation and internment affected her life. Ask students to notice how Umeda asks her neighbor to check on her house and garden in her absence. Ask them to make inferences about what they think happened to the homes and businesses that Japanese Americans were forced to abandon. In addition to loss of income and property, people who faced internment had their lives and futures thrown into disarray. More than four decades after the war, the US government issued an apology and attempted to pay reparations to those interned — but ask students to imagine how the experience of being interned might affect someone’s future. Ask your students if they were in Umeda’s place, would they be more or less likely to support their government’s decisions in the future? They may also wish to wrestle with this question: How does internment complicate our understanding of civil rights and equality? Finally, ask why they think Umeda’s tone is cheerful and solicitous.

June 8, 1942
Dear Mrs. Wegella:
Here I am after a long delay. I really should have written sooner but have taken longer than I expected to settle down. I am writing to you from “Fresno Assembly Center.”
The life out here is pretty fair, at least, better than I expected. In camp we have no tree nor green grass around; so it is very hot here, beside that we have to be in a line waiting for a mess hall in the hot heat.
In camp there is no work to do just eat and sleep; but I lose [illegible, but looks like six] pound since I came here. I rock my baby morning until night because it is so noisy here. In our barrack, it cut in