Rejoining Society

Beginning in 1942, attorneys contended that Mitsuye Endo, an American citizen in the Tule Lake camp in California, was being held without due process of law. A lower court ruled against her, but in 1944 the U.S. Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision that loyal American citizens could not be held without criminal charges.
After the decision, authorities started to empty the camps. But housing shortages, scarce jobs, and lingering discrimination made resettlement difficult.
As they left the camps, families took many of the things made or used in camp. The Museum has acquired and is preserving many of these objects, and continues to build these collections.
Carol Matsubara, who was sent to both the Jerome and Gila River camps, was able to leave the camps after getting a job as a lima bean inspector at the Seabrook Farms processing plant in Bridgeton, N.J. in 1944.
Hikaru Iwasaki, Courtesy of The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley
All inmates were given a $25 travel grant and a train or bus ticket to leave the camps. This gentleman is leaving the Gila River camp in Arizona in 1945.
Courtesy of National Archives
Mitsuye Endo, 1941
Courtesy of National Archives
A newborn identification bracelet from the Poston camp for Marlene Shigekawa, who was born October 23, 1944
Akio Nakagawa wore this identification badge while working at Seabrook Farms in New Jersey. The farm, one of the country’s largest producers of canned, frozen, and dehydrated vegetables, hired many Japanese camp inmates during and after the war.

Toshi Ito, who was held at the Heart Mountain camp in Wyoming, kept this hand-carved wooden pin depicting traditional Japanese sandals. She wore those geta to walk through the mud at the Santa Anita racetrack temporary detention center.

June Shimizu was a 17-year-old high school student when she was first held in the Topaz camp. Later she was sent to the Tule Lake camp in California, where she participated in art classes and worked as a secretary for a camp music studio.