Scan of WWII US internment camp yearbook for Japanese American high schoolers


Aquila was a yearbook for Japanese American high school students interned in a camp during WWII. The University of California has scans of two editions.

Scan of WWII US internment camp for Japanese Americans (Via This Isn't Happiness)


  1. You might edit the title.

    I was disappointed to see that it was just a yearbook that was scanned, not the whole camp.

  2. …I can see some of the graduating class captions now:

    “Jimmy Sakamura: Voted most likely to succeed in scaling the fence and bringing back a case of beer past the gaijins!”

  3. That was fascinating.

    Now let’s all agree that we never, ever put folks in the position of putting out a concentration camp yearbook again.

  4. Wow. And I thought my high school was prison-like.

    OK, this is one of the most f)(*&%-ed up things I have seen in a long time.

    Can we dig up the bodies of the people responsible for putting our citizens in a concentration camp and put their remains in a cage, just for some symbolic retribution?

  5. As a junior in high school in 1970 I found a book about the Japanese-American internment in my school library.

    I had NEVER heard of this until that moment. It had never been taught or talked about. This discovery helped radicalize me against the Vietnam war and helped to define my pacifism.

    ALL war is crazy


  6. Good to see that the cover artist included the barbed wire fences, guard towers and rows of barracks. It makes a pretty strong statement.

  7. One more thought… if that was human smoke coming from the chimney, this would be a scene from almost half a world away at the same time.

  8. @6

    Yeah, that restitution was clearly retribution. Are you speaking from personal experience? Because when I ask my grandfather about it, he never gives me a straight answer.

    1. Imagine trying to sell your house when everyone in the country knows that you’re going to a concentration camp. People’s houses, furniture, personal possessions were sold for pennies on the dollar or thrown away.

  9. I live about 30 miles from where that internment camp was. It is now the agricultural town of Newell in far northern California. Every once in a while, they have reunions of people forced into the camp. There is also a former POW camp where they held Italian and German POWs nearby. Interestingly, Newell and the nearby town of Tulelake were built on land that used to be covered by a big marshy lake (Tule Lake) that was the heart of the homeland of the Modoc Indians until they were ejected by the US Army in the 1870s. Then the Bureau of Reclamation drained the lake and ‘modernized’ it into ‘sumps’ as part of a massive water control project in the Klamath Basin. You can check it out on google earth.

  10. What a great primary source for history students everywhere, I wish I had this source when I was writing my senior thesis on the children’s experience of the Japanese interment two years ago. It is a little bit out of my age age range but the poems and other direct sources from internment victims are amazing. No amount of restitution can really make up for what the US government did to these people, especially since they waited till most of the victims had passed on to give them a paltry sum for the loss of their homes and almost all of their worldly goods. The Interment is horrific moment in the history of the United States of America.

  11. Interesting that the sports section illustration simply shows the fence and the mountain in the distance. What “sport” was the artist imagining?

  12. “What sport was the artist imagining?”

    As listed basketball, pingpong, volleyball, softball, boxing, and football.

    I don’t think anyone is celebrating concentration camps, but I do think the name is evoking a different mental image than what that yearbook seems to be describing. To the person who compared it to German concentration camps, I somehow missed their yearbook that included things like Senior Ditch Day.

    It’s actually a really fascinating document and I’m glad someone scanned it.

  13. Back then, we didn’t hear many stories of female teachers sleeping with students. Page 14 explains why. Yowza!


    One of my friend’s family was one of the fortunate. They owned a big fruit farm in Cali, and when the Internment came their neighbor agreed to take care of everything until after the war, and when they returned, sure enough the operation was still going and their neighbor gave everything back. Not everyone with such an arrangement was so lucky.

    My dad’s family ended up having to sell their home and laundromat. To think, I coulda been the Coin Op King of the Pacific Northwest…

  15. @10 Brad

    I hope you dont think im saying that a one time payment of 20,000 somehow makes the internment ok. I’m merely saying at least something was done and glad that an effort was made to console those who suffered. I have no idea how the magical number of 20,000 was decided upon or if more should have been handed out. Unfortunately for this thread im not going to touch that with a 30 foot internet-pole. Sorry to have offended you by using the word retribution instead of restitution.

  16. If you’re looking for real (not the trumped up PR photos that the government did) about the camps, check out Dorthea Lange’s book. There’s a good piece here on NPR about the book.

    The suffering was not just by the Americans of Japanese ancestry who were forcibly put into these ‘camps,’ but the psychic scars were carried by the 3rd generation of Japanese Americans, as well. Imagine what it is like to grow up and only people in your ancestral group had this happen to you. It was definitely one of the darkest moments of US American history in terms of what they did to their citizens.

  17. Wow, at the very end, there’s a page for autographs and it has a picture of a guard tower in the lower right quadrant of the page. Happy, happy memories!

    I guess the very existence of this document means…I don’t know what it means. Probably that the people running this camp really had no clue that this would one day come to seem quite so shameful. They were probably aware enough to realize that they weren’t exactly acting out of Christian charity, but thought it was reasonable given the situation and the norms of the day.

    Interesting that habeas corpus was restored while we were still at war with Japan (Jan 1945) and these people were freed, while in Guantanamo…

  18. “Interesting that the sports section illustration simply shows the fence and the mountain in the distance. What “sport” was the artist imagining”

    …Pole Vaulting, natch.

  19. Earl Warren, later chief justice of the Supreme Court, signed off on the internment camps. It was a coastal thing. If you were of Japanese ancestry and in Colorado, no problem. I worked with such a person. There were no camps for those of German ancestry.
    I remember the coils of barbed wire on the beaches and the anti-aircraft gun at the Golden Gate Bridge toll plaza. After Pearl Harbor there was plenty of paranoia to go around.
    For the duration the Japanese tea garden in Golden Gate Park was the Chinese Tea Garden. The Green Hornet’s assistant Cato had a nationality transplant after Dec 7th. He wasn’t always Fillipino. And so on and so forth.
    And with each loaf of bread you got an identification wheel to tell their planes from ours. Every kid had a dress military uniform to wear.

  20. What’s the name of the thing at the bottom? Some sort of calibration mechanism? I need one of those for color matching some photos.

  21. To the other commenters who are using the words “concentration camp:” A concentration camp yearbook only has one photo – everyone is in the picture and they’re all in a pile at the bottom of a ditch. An internment camp yearbook has pictures of smiling students receiving an education and participating in the arts.

    I’m not saying it’s right, I’m just saying they weren’t concentration camps. I wouldn’t diminish what people in concentration camps have gone through by saying so.

  22. @26

    The Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed. defines concentration camp as: a camp where non-combatants of a district are accommodated, such as those instituted by Lord Kitchener during the South African war of 1899-1902; one for the internment of political prisoners, foreign nationals, etc., esp. as organized by the Nazi regime in Germany before and during the war of 1939-45.

    An internment camp is a large detention center created for political opponents, enemy aliens, people with mental illness, specific ethnic or religious groups, civilians of a critical war-zone, or other groups of people, usually during a war. The term is used for facilities where inmates are selected according to some specific criteria, rather than individuals who are incarcerated after due process of law fairly applied by a judiciary.

    btw I’m a third gen(Sansei) Japanese-American and as far a I can find out both my parents were born in the camps and both sides lost everything before going in. Don’t try to muddy up the water and don’t take civil liberties or habeas corpus for granted. They weren’t death camps, but they were a poor example of American ideals in action(war on terror”cough””cough”).
    On a side note my Dad and Uncles all fought in Vietnam and my wife’s Dad(Nisei) fought in Korea.

  23. Another thing not continue ranting, but don’t forget about the Native American experience with US Concentration Camps(“emigration depots””Trail of Tears”) because some tribes are still getting a raw deal from the US government. Also Italian-Americans and German-Americans were interned though not as many and that is not widely known either.

  24. @sam you’re thinking of an extermination camp, which is a subset of the larger set concentration camp. The kind of camp this yearbook was from is obviously not not an extermination camp. It is nevertheless a shameful part of our national history.

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