Japanese American Incarceration Era Collection -- Arts and Crafts

Arts and Crafts

Arts and crafts classes at the relocation camps filled several voids in the detainees’ lives. Some viewed this as a way to continue pursuing the activities they did before EO 9066. Others saw it as a means to grapple with the traumatic experience of incarceration. A few used it as means to make connections with their fellow prisoners. And still, others used arts and crafts as a practical means to create ornaments for themselves and their homes. If nothing else, arts and crafts were a means of having something to do, which was why some classes were taught specifically for the elderly.

The type of arts and crafts created in camp ranged from wood carvings to delicate brooches. Most of these objects were made from natural materials found outside the camp. Or, detainees reused any salvaged goods found within the camps.