Signed Handkerchief of Appreciation from Prisoners of Barrack 19 in Santa Fe, New Mexico Alien Detention Camp for Mr. Shinsuke Sugimoto


This is a handkerchief belonging to Shinsuke Sugimoto from the Santa Fe, New Mexico prison camp. It is signed by the fellow prisoners (in Japanese) of the camp, which was a parting gesture when someone (or many) left the prison camp.

It is signed in Japanese by fellow prisoners and inmates in a circle around the center. It was presumably given to him right before he left the Santa Fe, New Mexico Alien Detention Camp.

Shinsuke was imprisoned in the Santa Fe, New Mexico Alien Detention camp after being transferred from the Tuna Detention Facility. The Santa Fe prison camp was surrounded by twelve-foot-high barbed-wire fences and eleven guard towers equipped with searchlights. The guards were armed with rifles, side-arms, and tear gas.

There two phases of the Santa Fe detention facility; the first phase was a temporary detention facility that held 826 Japanese immigrants from California who were sent to WRA camps by September of 1942. The second phase began in Feburary in 1943 and included prisoners transferred from U.S. Army camps as well as issei, nissei, and kibei "troublemakers" from the Tule Lake segregation center.

Shinsuke Sugimoto was an Issei and was born in Kyoto, Japan on September 10, 1884. Shinsuke lived in Japan for 20 years before immigrating to the United States in 1906 when he was 22. He was primarily an insurance salesman and lived in Los Angeles, California before being forcibly relocated to Tuna Canyon Detention Station in Tujunga, California, then to the Santa Fe prison camp in New Mexico. Shinsuke’s family was forcibly relocated to the Santa Anita Assembly California and then to Granada Relocation Center in Colorado. Shinsuke Sugimoto was 58 when he joined his family at the Granada Relocation Center.

These relocation centers were prison camps that those of Japanese descent were forcibly relocated to in World War II following the events of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 that authorized the removal of anyone seen as a threat to national security, although only mostly those of Japanese descent were affected by this. 110,000 people of Japanese descent were relocated to these camps in Utah, Wyoming, Arizona, Idaho, Arkansas, California, and Colorado.

Shinsuke married Misao Toyama from the Kumamoto-Ken Prefecture of Japan and they were married on July 22, 1918 in Marysville, California. They had four children: Kathleen, Mary, Roy, and Paul. Shinsuke was the Secretary of the Japanese Association of Marysville. The Sugimoto family relocated from Marysville to Boyle Heights in Los Angeles in 1928 and taught kendo, a Japanese martial art using bamboo swords.

It is believed that because of Shinsuke's kendo expertise, he was considered a danger by the U.S. government was one of the earliest detainees arrested after Executive 9066 was issued on February 19, 1942. Shinsuke was brought to the Tuna Canyon Detention Station in Tujunga, California. He told his family that he was arrested so suddenly that he barely had time to get dressed and was worried about an unfinished tax return.

On March 12, 1942, Shinsuke was sent to the Santa Fe camp in New Mexico. He instructed his eldest son Roy to sell their belongings. His wife and family were sent to the Santa Anita assembly center and they lived in the horse stables until they were relocated to the Granda camp in Colorado, where they finally reunited with Shinsuke.

Shinsuke's daughter Mary, and her husband Yoshio were sent to Rohwer, Arkansas. Shinsuke's son Paul attend Amache Camp school. On March 24, 1945, just two months short of his family's release from the camp, Shinsuke passed away at age 61 in Amache.

Date Made: circa 1942

Location: Currently not on view

See more items in: Political and Military History: Armed Forces History, Japanese American


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: gift of Donna Sugimoto

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 2016.0280.28Accession Number: 2016.0280Catalog Number: 2016.0280.28

Object Name: handkerchief

Physical Description: ink (overall material)satin (overall material)Measurements: overall: 19 in x 16 in; 48.26 cm x 40.64 cm


Record Id: nmah_1819759

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