Heroes on the Homefront: Japanese Americans in World War II
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. It celebrates the culture, traditions, and history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States. One tragic part of that history is the Japanese-American internment camps of World War II, and the Ball State University Libraries’ GIS Research and Map Collection (GRMC) has created a map commemorating some of the heroes who fought for civil rights and freedom during that time.
The map (above, click to enlarge) depicts the locations of the Japanese-American internment camps of World War II. President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 in February of 1942: This order authorized the military to prescribe certain areas “from which any or all persons may be excluded.” The order cleared the way for the deportation of Japanese Americans in what was considered a military area that stretched along the Pacific Coast from Washington down through western Arizona to internment camps located throughout the United States.
The map is based on the youth book, The Japanese American Internment: Civil Liberties Denied, by Michael Burgan. (The book is available from the Educational Technology and Resources Collection in the lower level of Bracken Library). The book details the circumstances surrounding the internment of the nearly 120,000 Japanese Americans who were forced to abandon their property and homes, including internees like Fred Korematsu and others who fought for their civil rights and thousands of Japanese-American soldiers who fought in the European Theater of the War.
The map identifies the locations of the ten internment camps scattered across the southwestern United States. It also includes the two military bases in Minnesota where Japanese-American soldiers were trained to interpret enemy papers and messages written in Japanese. Camp Shelby is also shown on the map—this is where the U.S. Army 442nd Infantry Regiment (composed mostly of Japanese Americans) trained before fighting in Europe. This was the most decorated Army unit for its size in U.S. history, with over 9,000 Purple Hearts and thousands of other citations for bravery.
This map is being included in a social studies project for the summer semester. Dr. Dorshell Stewart, Assistant Professor in the Department of History, teaches social studies teaching methods classes and is working with the GRMC to create unique lesson plans that incorporate the use of maps. The staff of the GRMC will collaborate with these student-teachers to create maps related to children’s books—biographies or books about historical events. The maps will be incorporated into multidisciplinary lesson plans and exhibits for use in their future classrooms. The student-teachers completing this project can also choose to donate a print copy of their maps to the GRMC as a resource for other teachers.
Other children’s books with related maps from the GRMC include A Whole New Ballgame: The Story of the All-American Girls ProfessionalBaseball League by Sue Macy, BecomingBabe Ruth by Matt Tavares, and AmeliaLost by Candace Fleming.
A copy of the map is available for download from Cardinal Scholar. For more information about using maps related to literature in the classroom, please contact the GRMC at 765-285-1097.