Christmas Letter to Family and Friends

Letter (page 1)

This is a Christmas letter written by Sally Lucas Jean to her family and friends from the War Relocation Center in Poston, Arizona on December 12, 1942. This letter is important because it is a direct monologue from Sally Lucas Jean presenting significant occurrences of the camp that culminated to a deadly strike one month earlier, November 1942. Although such events evoked fear and discontent for Sally and for others in the camp toward the Japanese, she provides defense for the Japanese Americans and tries to provide explanations for the behavior exhibited by the majority. Sally conveys a sense of justice and compassion towards the Japanese Americans of Poston in her letter. She assures her family and friends that all is well and explains that she is looking positively toward spending the holiday season with the Japanese Americans of whom she describes are forced to reside “away from their usual circle of friends and in unfamiliar surroundings, with only minimum comforts.” Sally Lucas Jean writes this letter in a way that balances the release of information regarding occurrences concerning the camp with reassurance and solace for her family and friends during what should be a peaceful holiday season for all.

In the letter, Jean displays genuine care of the internees and writes about how the Japanese Americans and the workers try to make the holidays as comfortable and festive as they can given the restrictions of their location and situation. She explains that the effort made in the interest of Japanese American welfare at the camp will “help them to feel less forlorn.” She writes that she is “glad to demonstrate [her] friendship for them by sharing the life they must live.” She expresses her attitude toward the situation of Japanese Americans and her feelings about her role in in the camps. Sally knows the significance of her role in the camps and believes that although her work may not be helping win the war in a direct way, she must continue to work with those people who are imprisoned as a war measure.

Letter (page 2)

An alteration of the mood for the letter ensues when Sally Lucas Jean addresses a recent Strike that occurred in the camp expressing that she is “at liberty to tell you about it.” This incident is known as the Poston Strike and is one of the most notable events that occurred at the Poston relocation center (WRA: A Story of Human Conservation 47). Sally provides a first hand account of the Strike and provides an overview of the incident offering explanations as to why it occurred, the organization, the settlement, and the aftermath of the Strike. She writes that the “doctors and nurses took no part in the affair” and also makes sure to note that she was not in “any danger at any time.” She further elaborates saying “though I had no fear at the time for myself, it was good to know the soldiers were here.”

The mention and context of the Poston Strike is significant in the letter and for the message that Sally Lucas Jean conveys through her writing. The Strike was caused by the build-up of tension and discontent within the camp leading to a chain reaction of popular sentiment. Tension grew as a result of newfound competition between the Nisei Community Council and the newly created Issei Advisory Board. Discontent grew as a result of the worsening living conditions in the camp and paranoia was the product of the camp adversity, which developed in among the residents as administrators sought information about “suspected troublemakers.” On November 1, 1942, this accumulation of paranoia resulted in an internee, who had cooperated with the WRA, a suspected “informer,” being severely beaten by “a group of unidentified men” (Kashima 178). The men were arrested and detained. The Issei delegation and community council demanded the release of the prisoners but were refused (“Poston, Arizona”).

The Community Council resigned in protest after the second refusal to release the men. With this resignation, the evacuees formed a “leadership committee which decreed a general strike” and picketed the police station (Kashima 179). The administration negotiated with protest leaders to “end the strike peacefully” (“Poston, Arizona”), and the incident was “settled by an agreement between the administration and the committee of the residents” (WRA: A Story of Human Conservation 10). The letter written by Sally Lucas Jean complements this historical occurrence and emphasizes that the incident did in fact ended peacefully and that the “air has been cleared by the crisis;” however, she adds that there is uncertainty about difficulties in the future.

Sally Lucas Jean mentions the uprising that occurred at the Manzanar Relocation Center, known as the Manzanar Riot, which draws similarities to the Poston Strike. This incident had also been a product of growing tension among the Japanese American internees, specifically between those who supported the Japanese American Citizen League (JACL), a group of Kibei, and black marketing by camp administrators which resulted in sugar and meat shortages (Poston, Arizona). Although the Manzanar Riot was a significant incident that occurred among the internment camps, Sally only briefly mentions it in a sentence, but by even mentioning the Manzanar Riot, she is able to draw potential blame away from the Japanese American internees and is able to direct blame on the environment and poor conditions of the internment camps. Such conditions, she believes, were dangerous catalysts for the development of stressors which lead to occurrences such as the Riot or the Strike. Mentioning the incident at Manzanar, which can be easily compared to the incident at Poston, allows one to infer that the Strike at Poston was not a unique response to the poor camp conditions that the Japanese Americans were forced to live in. It provides sustenance toward Sally’s position of defense for the Japanese Americans as she tries to offer an explanation for the behavior of the Japanese Americans writing that “it is an unnatural life for the people [to live].”

In the opening of the letter, Sally Lucas Jean writes that she is “trying to express [her] attitude in the situation so that you will not feel anxious about this member of your circle.” Throughout her letter, Sally communicates her compassionate sentiment toward the Japanese Americans and their situation. Despite the conformed ideas about superiority and inferiority of position and race present in the country at that time, this letter shows that underlying the prejudice conditioned in society is the fair belief that Sally holds in which such treatment and condition is not right, not just, and not natural. She concludes her letter with a positive outlook towards life on the West Coast where, despite all the conflicts, “has not been spoiled.” She writes, “man by his stupidity cannot destroy the natural beauty of the world,” a message ever so entwined in the Christmas season.


-Ariel Esperancilla



Works Cited

Kashima, Tetsuden. Personal Justice Denied: Report of the Commission on Wartime

“Poston, Arizona.” Japanese American Veterans Association. JAVA, 6 Oct. 1992. Web. 29

WRA: A Story of Human Conservation. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Dept. of the Interior, War Relocation Authority, 1946. 10. Print.

“Christmas Letter to Family and Friends Dec. 21, 1942” Folder 74 (p.1)

“Christmas Letter to Family and Friends Dec. 21, 1942” Folder 74 (p.2)


Memo concerning the nurse aides assistance in the hospital

1st Page

Elizabeth Vickers, R.N. and Senior Chief Nurse, wrote this letter on August 14, 1943 to Sally Lucas Jean concerning the Nurse Aide Program in the Poston Health Service while stationed at the Poston General Hospital in Poston, Arizona.  In her letter, Vickers updates Jean on the program’s progress with training Japanese American women in the nursing field at the Poston General Hospital and the surrounding areas.  She continues to describe what hospital services the nurse aides had experienced in the training, including the following areas: medical, surgical, obstetrics, pediatrics, tuberculosis, communicable diseases, operating room, diet kitchen, and clinic.  The most salient of all topics mentioned in this letter is the appraisal given by Elizabeth Vickers of the Japanese American nurse aides.

The majority of the letter expands upon the significant presence of the nurse aides and how their presence positively affects the hospital staff, the patients, and Elizabeth Vickers herself.  She gives the nurse aides full credit for most achievements made by the hospital services, such as “the preparation and serving of around one hundred thousand meals” and “the examinations and treatments given in 52,674 patient visits”.  Poston was made for a capacity of ten thousand, but held over thirteen thousand.  At twenty-one meals a week, for about ninety-five patients, one hundred thousand meals would have totalled for one year’s worth — meaning that the nurse aides provided a steady amount of assistance because that is one year that the WRA could not afford to handle without their help.  Following these accomplishments made by the nurse aids, Vickers continuously compliments their character and work ethic she observed in their training and during the tough times they most regularly faced in the hospital – “always with the smile that indicated real interest in the job at hand and the spirit of determination to do”.  At the end of her letter, Vickers explains that she is “not ashamed to say that many of us in the trained personnel group borrowed courage from the excellent spirit shown by the nurse aides and from that, undoubtedly, carried on more efficiently ourselves”.  Her words portray the nurse aides in a good light because she does not refer to them as Japanese Americans, eliminating the bias between Japanese and Caucasian races.  Another way she portrays the nurse aides positively is by complimenting them on their spirit and how that spirit benefitted the other medical workers.  She appreciates their service because without them, many patients would not have been cared for.

Kiyoko Tatsukawa, a Poston nurse aid, smiles while administering medications to patients in her charming nurse uniform. Due to a lack of medical care, nurse aides were needed in the camps to keep the hospitals running.

The presence of the nurse aides was crucial for the survival of many patients in the camps because there was a “lack of medical care contributed to extensive disease and death” (PJD 20).  Administrative motives behind providing Japanese Americans with jobs in the hospital were that help was needed in these institutions and that these jobs would be helpful training for Japanese American men and women.  By giving them opportunities to serve in the hospital and to apply themselves directly to issues that mattered personally to them, the WRA kept the Japanese Americans engaged and ensured that their time spent in the camp was useful.   To allow the Japanese Americans to have jobs while in the camps also served a more public service because it made the Japanese Americans look patriotic and a part of American society.  However, the WRA’s main motivation behind their asking for nurse aide volunteers from inside the internment camps was to supply the camps with medical care without having to ask Caucasian Americans, who were not as willing to do the job.  This was most beneficial to WRA because they knew Japanese Americans were eager for work and the Caucasian Americans wanted no connection to those interned.  This way, the WRA would save money because they knew the Japanese Americans would work for any kind of money.  It was crucial to have the Japanese Americans to work in the hospitals because if they had declined the WRA’s offer, many patients would have died and that would have reflected badly on the government.

In an oral history of Setsu Tsuboi Tanemura, she describes her experience in the Minidoka internment camp where she served as a nurse aide when she was thirteen.  During 1943, teenagers were given the chance to further their education in school or work in the hospital for money.  Few thirteen year olds worked in the hospital, but they were allowed to work because only a small amount of Japanese Americans in every camp had a background in qualified medical training.  Therefore, nurse aides helped with anything in the hospital or nearby clinics to reduce the spread of disease and other sicknesses.  Setsu mostly worked in the obstetrics ward, but occasionally helped in the surgical and tuberculosis ward, even though her father did not approve.  Allowing such young nurse aides to enter highly infected areas of the clinics was dangerous and irresponsible of the WRA; Setsu was infected by TB, though not to the point that she fully had the disease.  However, with the help of Setsu and many other Japanese American nurse aides, many more patients received personal care.

Overall, the WRA appreciated the assistance of the nurse aids; however, they had selfish motives.  The nurse aides did not get paid enough for the work they were doing and their work was more helpful to the appearance of the WRA than the training they were experiencing for the future.

-Olivia Van Horn

Works Cited

“Memo: Sally Lucas Jean, Concerning: Nurse Aide Program in the Poston Health Service, From: Elizabeth Vickers, R.N., Senior Chief Nurse”, in the Sally Lucas Jean papers #4290, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Link: <>

Setsu Tsuboi Tanemura Interview Segment 18.  Interviewed by Tom Ikeda, November 12, 2009, 
Densho Visual History Collection, Densho.

Photograph of Kiyoko Tatsukawa by Stewart,Francis, in the War Relocation Authority Photographs of Japanese-American Evacuation and Resettlement Series 1: Colorado River Relocation Center (Poston, AZ) Volume 3 Section A, WRA no. B-491. Link: <>

Report on immunization in the camps

Vaccination Report summarizing how many inoculations were performed in the camp

This document covers all of the notes that Jean took for inoculation in the camps. It is a report for the Department of Public Health at Poston 1, which was finalized on September 10, 1945. The date on this report indicates that it was written near the disbanding of the Poston camp; therefore, it is a compilation of information on all of the inoculations performed throughout the duration of the camp and the number of camp internees qualified for an immunity certificate. An immunity certificate, or inoculation certificate, is still required to attend multiple public schools across the nation. Every immunization was recorded in a list. Jean also details the number of internees that suffer from physical defects, and lists the number of people from the defects. Jean proceeds to detail the number and the quality of births performed in the camp. She details the vaccinations given to the infants birthed in the camps and lists any peculiar physical conditions. In particular, there were a number of birth defects. Additionally, there is even recommended protocol for caring and delivering infants, as  birth rates in the camp were high She ends with a recommended inoculation protocol for any and all other camps, approved by the Department of Public Health. The importance of this document is that it underlines very clearly what medical and vaccination procedures the camps underwent. By cross-examining these medical records, it is possible to determine the quality of the medical facilities Poston 1 had. She also underlined how many births were in Poston 1, and listed the number of survivors and possible causes of death. Finally, she concludes with a concise report of recommendations for inoculation in all other internment camps.

Vaccination Poster during WWII

Vaccines are a key part of healthy American life. Ever since the invention of the smallpox vaccine in 1796, vaccines have been widely developed. By 1809, the first mandatory vaccination law was enacted in Massachusetts (Salmon). In California, where most of the Japanese Americans resided, vaccination was not yet mandatory. In addition, a large number of Issei, first generation Japanese immigrants, were unfamiliar with California’s inoculation policy, and therefore unable to obtain the vaccination. Vaccination is more effective the younger the child is, but due to high anti-vaccination sentiment in the 20th and 19th century, many parents chose to opt out of vaccinating their children. Smallpox was the most widespread virus, and the virus that had the most vaccines developed for it. Smallpox is a very harmful virus, as it quickly spreads and rapidly consumes a person, causing high fevers that bring upon death. Medical advances from World War I and World War II brought upon highly effective vaccines. Due to the advances of the smallpox vaccine,  “by 1942, less than 1,000 new cases of smallpox emerged in the United States” (Hodge). This is a remarkable trend in the increase of vaccination. However, multiple rural and foreign families did not receive vaccinations since they did not regularly visit hospitals. This in turn led to fewer check-ups and opportunities to become vaccinated. There were exceptions, but the general trend pointed towards a lack of vaccination.

Vaccination upon Entry


Vaccination in the Japanese American community rapidly rose by going to theinternment camps. The Japanese American community was the most vaccinated because of the government mandated inoculation policy for entering and residing in the camps. As shown from the Immunization Records document, there were a total of 1090 immunity treatments completed in just camp 1. The majority of those treated were children of high school age, making up almost half of the immunity treatments. A reason for this trend may be that some of the younger children had already received immunizations prior to entering the camp. When children reach high school age, they must undergo “re-immunization”, which is a process of administering booster shots to bolster their immune system. Additionally, it was more important to immunize children as they still went to school in the camps and would attend public schools outside of camp after internment had ended.

In the camps, most of the diseases immunized were the Smallpox virus and the Typhoid Virus. Typhoid Fever is still an ongoing disease, unlike the smallpox virus which has practically made extinct. The Typhoid vaccine, unlike the smallpox vaccine, requires a booster every 2 to 5 years. This is a possible explanation as to why children in the camps received more typhoid vaccines (219) than smallpox vaccines (195). The patients receiving the Typhoid vaccine were primarily children older than two years, which shows that study had already been done on the safety of the Typhoid vaccine. The Typhoid vaccine was a relatively new invention; it was not until the 1950s when the Typhoid vaccine was approved for widespread use. (Bockemühl).


Eric Dean



Bockemühl, J. “Typhoid vaccination yesterday and today.” Immun Infekt.. 11.1 (1983): 16-22. Web. 11 Apr. 2012.

CDC, . Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Typhoid Fever. Atlanta: Typhoid Fever, 2010. Web.

Hodge, James G. “School Vaccination Requirements: Historical, Social, and Legal Perspectives.” Center for Law and the Public’s Health at Johns Hopkins and Georgetown Universities. (2002): 1-24. Web. 1 Mar. 2012.

Salmon, Daniel A. “Mandatory Immunization Laws and the Role of Medical, Religious and Philosophical Exemptions.” Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. (2002): n.1-2 page. Web. 22 Mar. 2012.

Lucas, Sally Jean. “Sally Jean Lucas Papers.” Letter 19-25 of Report of all Enteries of All Nursery School Children. Ed. Sally Lucas Jean, Comp. UNC Archives and Ed. . 1st. Chapel Hill: UNC Archives, Folder 74: 19-25. Print.

U.S. Library of Medicine. “Typhoid Vaccine.” Medline Plus. Bethesda: The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, 1012. Web. 1 Mar 2012.

Report on Segregation to Tule Lake (Part II)

Detailing of Health Considerations Needed for Poston Residents Transferring to Tule Lake

The memo entitled “Segregation to Tule Lake” is part of a larger report detailing the nursing activities from July 15 to September 15, 1943.  In this document, Elma Rood, Public Health Nursing Supervisor, reports the results of an investigation into the health issues of the Poston internees that will be transferred to the Tule Lake Camp. She lists the number of internees that will need special consideration during their train ride to Tule Lake. These special considerations include special diets, Pullman car space so that they may lie down, and medical supervision by a nurse or doctor. She declares that for patients with serious illnesses, the trip will be deferred and that those taking the train should be able to do so “without any unfavorable incidents”.  Rood sent this memo to Dr. A Pressman, the Director of Health and Sanitation of the Poston Camp, on September 18, 1943. During this time, the War Relocation Authority was making the necessary preparations for the relocation of Japanese Americans who were perceived to be disloyal within the Poston Camp.

About nineteen months after the initial imprisonment of Japanese Americans into incarceration camps such as Poston, the government created a loyalty questionnaire to identify those with “tendencies of loyalty or disloyalty to the United States” (PJD 190). In February 1943, the WRA handed out the questionnaire, which asked two critical loyalty questions: if they would forswear allegiance to the Emperor of Japan and swear allegiance to the US and if they would be willing to serve in the US military (PJD 192). These questions were poorly worded and had many unforeseen implications that would affect the internees’ answers. Various reasons for answering “No-No” to the questions included discontent with their treatment, a desire to stay with their family members who were going to be segregated, or an unwillingness or inability to serve in the U.S. military because of personal beliefs or family obligations (PJD 195). If the internee said no to both of these questions and refused to change their answer during later questioning, he or she would be considered a disloyal Japanese American. The WRA decided to relocate the disloyal residents to Tule Lake, starting on September 1943, in order to separate the loyal residents from the “trouble makers” (PJD 208). The residents detailed in Rood’s report were being sent to Tule Lake because of their answers to the loyalty questionnaire or their possibly pro-Japanese activity within the camps.

Tule Lake was already established as a regular incarceration camp before the segregation process. Due to its size and the already large number of resistant Japanese Americans residing there, the WRA selected Tule Lake as the segregation camp for the discontented Japanese Americans. When Tule Lake was designated as such an area, the camp became more militarized. The WRA set up a double eight foot fence and substantially increased the number of guards. The WRA allowed families with clean records who answered “yes” to the two loyalty questions to transfer out of Tule Lake. 6,538 residents transferred out of Tule Lake while 12,173 Japanese Americans transferred in (PJD 208). The now militarized Tule Lake was unable to adequately accommodate this influx of people.

Incarcerees Traveling to Tule Lake by Train

Even though this document shows that the medical staff was aware of medical issues that would need to be addressed during the train ride, Tule Lake was not a suitable camp for people with these issues to reside in. Out of all the incarceration camps, the Tule Lake Camp residents faced the worst conditions. Residents of Tule Lake would later complain of over-crowded and unsanitary housing facilities with no cleaning supplies provided (Petition 6). Rood lists “pregnancy, care and feeding of babies and young children, and chronic illnesses” as conditions that need special medical consideration. However, once the internees left the train, the overcrowded barracks and unsanitary conditions would negatively affect these residents greatly.

The food served at Tule Lake was also of a remarkably lower quality than the other camps.  Petitioners in the camp wrote, “Salted herring often served in this center is really fertilizer; it is not fit for human consumption at all” (Petition 6). In response to the petition, which was written by Tule Lake stockade prisoners in 1944, the administration declared, “for the present, you have to be satisfied with what we have in the food warehouses” (Petition 8). Rood’s letter reported that 67 babies needed special food and 15 people needed special diets on the train. When healthy residents are not receiving adequate food, the special dietary needs of the internees cannot be adequately met either.

Along with the inadequate food and housing, the Tule Lake hospital was undersupplied and inefficient. Tule Lake residents needed to bring their own medical supplies for hospital use because they were not adequately supplied by the War Relocation Authority (Petition 5). The residents also complained that only one ambulance was in circulation to service the fifteen thousand people that were in the Tule Lake Camp (Petition 6). According to the petition, the Hospital Director, Dr. Pedicord, maintained a restrictive and seemingly authoritarian control over the hospital (Petition 6). He required the Japanese doctors to have a permit signed by him in order to treat patients yet he was frequently unavailable. Rood, in her letter, discusses segregation trips being deferred due to the severity of illnesses as well as critical heart cases and diabetes needing special attention. The WRA transferred the residents described in the report due to their answers to the loyalty questionnaire at the risk of their health. For the WRA to risk the health of the internees based on an answer to a poorly worded loyalty questionnaire was an unethical decision.

The WRA published a book in 1946 after the Japanese American incarceration ended called WRA: a Story of Human Conservation. This book asserts that the Japanese Americans “were generally determined to make the tasks of the Tule Lake administrative staff as difficult as possible” (WRA 71). Perhaps in the WRA perspective, the claims of the Petition referenced earlier was another attempt to make the administrators’ jobs more difficult. This book claims that the Japanese Americans in Tule Lake after the segregation were disloyal to the United States, uncooperative while neglecting to carefully examine the  possible motives or reasoning for their actions beside for their loyalty to Japan. They make no mention of the conditions at Tule Lake but they do concede that the “residents had been removed from normal environment for so long and had been subjected to so many disappointments, fears, and frustrations” (WRA 72).This indirect glance at the mental status of the residents provides insight into their camp life and suggests that camp conditions and incarceree treatment were not ideal.

Living Barracks at Tule Lake

Despite the poor conditions of the Tule Lake hospital, several oral histories of workers and patients revealed no glaring complaints about the condition of the hospital. Peggi Bain, who worked as a nurse and was a patient in the hospital, did not mention the lack of supplies or poor treatment in her personal experience at the hospital during her oral interview. On the other hand, Yaeko Nakano, who gave birth to child at the Segregation Camp, acknowledged the death of a baby in the hospital due to the poor conditions. Even so, she said that in her pregnancy experience, “they took really good care of pregnant women.” So according to Nakano, the pregnant women, which Rood’s report lists and provides special considerations for, received adequate treatment. However, Nakano said that when her son had a hernia, the doctors at the Tule Lake Hospital refused to do anything about it. They had to go to Nebraska for treatment.

The letter by Elma Rood shows the types of medical conditions the residents had during their transfer and detention at the Tule Lake Segregation Camp. The poor living and hospital conditions at Tule Lake would worsen the medical issues listed in Rood’s report. Such inadequacy in hospital conditions led to the death of a newborn, which Yaeko Nakano and the Petition mentioned. However, some patients and workers were adequately treated, as the oral histories indicated. The WRA did not need to transfer these residents with medical issues and although they did take precautions, they put the residents’ health at risk by doing so.

 -William Tuminski



Document: Segregation to Tule Lake, in the Sally Lucas Jean papers #4290, Southern Historical

                Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Bain, Peggie, interview by Alice Ito, September 15, 2004, Densho Visual History Collection, Densho.

Petition to American Civil Liberties Union regarding conditions at Tule Lake. September 19,

1944, Segregation and Tule Lake Collection, Densho.

Miyamoto, Frank, interview by Chizu Omori and Emiko Omori, September 25, 1992, Emiko and

Chizuko Omori Collection,Denso.

Nakano, Yaeko, interview by Tracy Lai, July 4, 1998. Densho.

WRA: A Story of Human Conservation. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Dept. of the Interior, War

Relocation Authority, 1946. Print.

Jean Personal Letter November 8 1942


First page of Jean's letter

On Sunday, November 8, 1942, Sally Lucas Jean typed a personal letter while sitting outside her room in Poston to give an update to her “family and friends.” This three-page document deals with several specific aspects of life at Poston, including travel outside of camp, healthcare and education, poor weather, gardens, and her personal comforts and discomforts . Jean, as a director of health in the camp, spends much of this letter describing her dealings with the schools; through this, however, she reveals several other important aspects of camp life, including the lack of medical personnel, the health of school children, and the poor weather conditions that tended to disrupt camp life (1-3).

After her greeting and a short description of the weather, Jean dives into the substance of her letter by recounting some of her difficulties in setting up public health “protection” for school children.

This situation required attention to many phases which usually had been established previously. For instance, the public health department is manned by evacuees, most of whom are physicians but none of whom have had training in public health. It cannot be expected that they would be prepared to arrange procedures to prevent the spread of contagious and infectious diseases as their work in life has been to cure rather than to prevent.” (1)

Hence, Jean was able to find trained workers, but not people trained in the right areas. Despite these difficulties, however, Jean expresses enthusiasm over the healthy state of the children and the willingness of their parents to keep them that way:

“It is thrilling to have all mothers respond to an invitation to come to the school for these examinations. It is the first time in my experience that 100% of the mothers and teachers meet with the doctor… The children are in splendid condition and are well cared for. They have fewer defects than the average group this age.” (1)

The high rate of mothers’ involvement may have quite simply been due, at least in part, to the geographical proximity of the barracks to the schools, but from Jean’s perspective, the involvement of parents and teachers more than made up for the lack of experience of Poston’s public health workers.

Classroom building at the Poston I elementary school. Credit: Photo from National Park Service website

Poston had its own school system that encountered numerous unique struggles, not the least of which was the problematic weather. Whilediscussing the cold nights and mornings, she writes that “the teachers take the pupils out into the sun for games until it is warm enough to sit in the room” (2). Going outside “has its drawbacks because of the glare of books and paper” (2). Insulation and heating was evidently a serious problem if teachers needed to take their students outside in order to avoid the cold. This kind of disruption could only have harmed the quality of education at Poston.

Indeed, weather affected not only education but camp life as a whole for Jean. Even as Jean wrote her letter, it was too hot to sit outside but too cold to sit inside. She was concerned for the infants and young children in barracks, and on one cloudy sun cold was “unbearable” (2). She also encountered a strong sand-storm during her trip to Manzanar (3), and Poston dealt with similar issues; its three sections “were nicknamed ‘Roasten,’ ‘Toasten,’ and ‘Dustin’ by the incarcerees” (“Poston”). Compounded by poor building materials and structures, these adverse weather conditions served only to make camp life more trying for all involved.

The struggles with finding properly trained personnel were clearly not limited to the area of public health, nor were they Jean’s alone. For several days, she performed exams for parents of school children because of a lack of nurses. She also states how grateful she was to have a trained nutritionist on staff to help with the children’s food, implying these professionals were a rare luxury (1). Indeed, the biggest health problem in camp was “too few medical personnel, particularly nurses. The result was overworked doctors and nurses and delays in treatment” (PJD 164). An incarcerated orderly named George Yoshida went to work for the hospital in Poston because he “had taken biology and thought, ‘what the hell, it might be fun.’” Clearly, the supply of specifically trained medical personnel was low at Poston and elsewhere.

Jean portrayed teachers in a positive light in this letter by depicting their willingness to engage in the health of their students, and other sources concur with this positive view. Mas Hashimoto, a student interviewed years later, said that most of the teachers were young, dedicated, talented Nisei or Sansei who had college experience or degrees. Education, however, was often poor because of a lack of supplies. Hashimoto had neither paper nor pencils for “quite a while” (Hashimoto interview). Some camps lacked chairs and tables for months, and any technical or laboratory equipment was a fantasy. Most camps also needed certified teachers, particularly for higher grade levels and more advanced subjects (PJD 171); by the time of this letter, however, Poston seemed to have mitigated at least some of the problems with supplies, so Jean and others such as Hashimoto maintained a positive view of at least the elementary teachers. This serves to contribute to Jean’s positive outlook in this letter, despite the obvious difficulties she faced.


Seth Wynands



Works Cited

“Poston.” Ed. Geoff Froh. Densho. Densho, n.d. Web. 1 March 2012.

George Yoshida, interviewed by Alice Ito and John Pai, February 18, 2008, Densho.

Mas Hashimoto, interviewed by Tom Ikeda, July 30, 2008, Densho.

Letter to Family and Friends Nov. 8, 1942, Folder 75, in the Sally Lucas Jean papers #4290,

Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at

Chapel Hill.,217362,217526,217503

NPS photo:

Survey of Medical Conditions at Poston July-September 1943

Medical Survey at Poston July-September 1943


From July to September 15, 1943, Sally Lucas Jean documented different medical conditions existing within Poston. Her report gives the statistics of her patients, their respective illnesses, and a summary of what is being done to treat some of them. Although she reports on several patients and their illnesses, there are a few points of interest throughout the document.

The first point of interest is the number of patients “[crippled] by apparent mental deficiency”. (Poston) The fact that these patients “with apparent mental deficiency” are being treated within this camp is quite surprising. The protocol for people with mental illnesses within the camps was neither desirable nor appropriate. “Retarded children who could have been cared for by their families at home had to be institutionalized. Serious illnesses, such as mental breakdowns, meant removal to state hospitals.” (PJD 164) One can only imagine the terror of Japanese American parents having to leave their children in the hands of complete strangers for an unknown length of time.

The testimony of Kima Konatsu, who was incarcerated at Poston, not only provides an example of the typical treatment of mentally ill persons during the incarceration, but also an example of the vacillating protocol towards the mentally ill and the absolute worst case scenario of the implementation of this protocol. Her husband was not permitted to enter Poston and “during that four years we were separated, my children and I were allowed to see him only once….[M]y husband became ill and was hospitalized. He was left alone, naked, by a nurse after having given him a sponge bath. It was a cold winter and he caught pneumonia. After two days and two nights, he passed away. Later on, the head nurse at the hospital told us that this nurse had lost her two children in the war and that she hated Japanese.” Several people before, during, and after the war, refused to make the distinction between Japanese Americans and the actual Japanese citizens of Japan. (Achieving, p. 107)

A second point of interest within Jean’s survey is the number of patients “having exercises at home under clinic supervision,” who she later writes “includes three convalescent polio patients…who received the Kenny treatment.” (Poston) She also writes some patients that have suffered “infantile paralysis…can be improved with exercises or the assistance of braces.” Poliomyelitis and “infantile paralysis” are different terminologies for the same disease. Better known as polio, it is a viral disease that can affect nerves and lead to partial or full paralysis. Because there is a vaccine now, polio tends to be overlooked as a disease to fear in developed countries (sadly, it is still a threat in some countries) but in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, polio tended to be a fatal, and very real, threat. The common medical practice that some underwent was to strap braces to the person’s legs; once the polio had done enough damage, that person, like the very popular President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, would be confined to a wheelchair.

The Kenny Treatment

Elizabeth Kenny (1880 –1952) was an Australian nurse who promoted a new approach to the treatment of poliomyelitis in the era before mass vaccination eradicated the disease in most countries. Her findings ran counter to conventional medical wisdom and caused much controversy. The Queensland Government Royal Commission evaluated Kenny’s work and concluded, “[t]he abandonment of immobilization is a grievous error and fraught with grave danger, especially in very young patients who cannot cooperate in re-education.”(Treatment) The Commission was recommending that the very young children stricken with polio be strapped down with braces because they were too young to go through what would today be considered physical therapy. Kenny believed there was a need to exercise muscles affected by polio and was adamantly opposed to immobilizing them with plaster casts and brace splints. In 1929, her methods were requested to assist a young woman, aged twenty-one, who had been disabled by polio at fourteen. After two years under Kenny’s care, the young woman was able to walk, work, and provide for herself (Kenny, p. 85). This was and is remarkable for a disease everyone thought to be terminal.  In 1940, Kenny came to the U.S. and stayed for the next eleven years, teaching doctors across the country the Kenny treatment (Kenny, p. 203). Kenny’s principles of muscle rehabilitation became the foundation of physical therapy.

In light of the the fact that the Kenny treatment came to the U.S. in 1940, it seems the physicians that Jean is writing about in 1943 are, in some sense, keeping up to date with medical protocol and technique. This observation cannot necessarily be applied to all other internment camps during this time: many memoirs about life within the camps regard the medical care to be insufficient. This tended to be due to a lack of medical tools, resources, and medical professionals within the camps, but there were incidents like that of Tule Lake and even Konatsu’s husband, where physicians consciously chose to do nothing when they could have. According to this report, the physicians within Poston applied and utilized as much medical knowledge as was available considering the time period, wartime shortages, and the limited funds that were allotted the camps by the government.

-Jazzmine Willis



Maki, Mitchell T., Kitano, Harry H. L., Berthold, S. Megan. Achieving the Impossible Dream: How Japanese Americans Obtained Redress. Urbana, Chicago: University of Illinois, 1999.

Poston Hospital Nursing Activities – July 15 – September 15, 1943 Survey on Crippling, in the Sally Lucas Jean papers #4290, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Sister Kenny. And They Shall Walk. New York: Dodd, Mead, & Company, 1949.

“Treatment of Infantile Paralysis by Sister Kenny’s Method: Report of Queensland Commission.” The British Medical Journal.1. 4023 (1938 February 12): 350. PubMed Central.Web. 28 March 2012. <>

Letter from Aiko Nakatani 1943

This document is a handwritten letter from Aiko Nakatani to Sally Lucas Jean, written in 1943. The missive is signed ‘Aiko,’ and based on the identifying information provided in the letter, such as her block number and the fact that she was Jean’s secretary, we have identified her as Aiko Nakatani. Aiko Nakatani was a young Japanese American woman from Los Angeles interned in the Poston camp in Arizona during the Second World War. While living in Los Angeles, Aiko completed four years of high school and attended Japanese language school. She could read, write and speak both English and Japanese. As a Nisei fluent in Japanese, Aiko probably would have garnered suspicion by the U.S. government in their attempts to thwart alleged espionage and conspiracy. While at Poston, Aiko worked in the health sector of the camp as the “Secretary to Health Education Consultant” (Nakatani).  At the time of this letter, Aiko was nineteen years old, living in the Poston Relocation camp in Arizona. Aiko’s father, Kakichi R. Nakatani, died in Poston after contracting an illness and being treated in the “contagion ward” (Nakatani). He was born in Japan in 1886 and lived in Japan until he was nineteen years old (Nakatani, National Archives). Aiko Nakatani’s experience in Poston illuminates several issues that are important in considering Japanese Americans’ time in incarceration camps.

This letter sheds light on an unlikely relationship as Aiko thanks Jean for teaching her career skills, providing emotional support and for bestowing gifts upon her. Aiko expresses that she looked to Jean as a role model. In Poston as well as other relocation centers, camp responsibilities often took parents away from children during meal times and other times crucial for family bonding (Sasaki interview). Children, often confused about their circumstances in camp, looked to adults other than their parents for answers. May K. Sasaki who was interned in Camp Minidoka recalls admiring a teacher in the camp who stressed to her students that being Japanese was not a crime (Sasaki interview). This was in stark contrast to the conclusions many Nisei drew on their own about why they were in camp, especially when their parents did not provide answers. Aiko worked within the camp, as many did to earn money as well as to occupy their free time and to feel like they were contributing something worthwhile. Aiko worked as a secretary for Jean and Jean provided a parental authority in Aiko’s life when her father died. Aiko acknowledges that Jean was a valuable teacher and anguishes over how she will ever be able to repay the debt. According to the letter, Jean helped Aiko develop the necessary skills to be a secretary in the camp. This ultimately gave Aiko a purpose in a place where many people felt purposeless. This occupation also gave her an opportunity to develop important skills.  Higher training was a problem in the camps, where the highest education available was high school.

Densho Interview with May K. Sasaki

Aiko’s father died prior to her writing this letter. Several incarcerees in Poston contracted polio and were placed in a separate ward; this could have included Kakichi Nakatani, as the illness from which he died is not identified in public records. Aiko speaks of the time of her father’s illness and death, thanking Jean for her support during this difficult time. Jean attended Aiko’s father’s funeral and brought flowers with a vase. Their friendship was strange given the circumstances but Aiko acknowledges this and praises Jean for her lack of “racial prejudice” This is notable, given that racial prejudice amongst Caucasians is the inherent reason that Aiko is interned in camp.

Aiko mentions her father’s death and funeral, calling attention to this somber aspect of camp life. Funerals occurred within the camp when people died while incarcerated. Flowers for the ceremony were often fashioned out of paper by internees as shown in archived photos from camp (Buddhist funeral photograph). Wreaths made out of crepe paper were common. Fresh flowers were a rarity in the dry climate of Poston and the other relocation camps in desert climates. There was a designated place in the camps for people to be buried but most internees had their deceased loved ones cremated, keeping the urn in their barracks (PJD 178). Most hoped to spread the ashes once they were released from detainment because few wanted to bury their loved ones in a place they hoped to never return after being released. Some camps built funeral parlors, which provided a venue for internees to mourn their lost relatives. Tule Lake constructed a funeral parlor that was akin in structure to a barracks (Camp funeral parlor photograph). This scanty building is likely similar to the one Jean visited to pay respects to Aiko’s father. At one specific ceremony for fallen Japanese American soldiers, a photo was taken in the camp funeral parlor where the attendees and mourning family posed in front of a cross (funeral for Nisei soldier photograph). Special religious burial rituals were difficult to accommodate. Also, few Japanese Americans could bear the emotional toll of burying someone in what was essentially the middle of nowhere. This was a place where they had suffered great injustice.

Incarceration took most of the agency away from the family unit in making arrangements for their deceased loved ones. This was one of the most agonizing violations of the freedoms of Japanese Americans by the U.S. government. Being denied the resources such as fresh flowers and the opportunity to host a reception after a funeral in the memory of a loved one was a painful restriction for many Japanese Americans in camp.

Many young women worked as secretaries within camp, like Lily Sakemi, pictured here, who is close in age to Nakatani when she worked for Jean.

Aiko’s letter to Sally Lucas Jean provides an exclusive insight into the life of a young woman whose life was interrupted by internment at Poston and how she dealt with this unjust situation. Aiko sought refuge with a slightly older Caucasian woman for whom she worked when personal tragedy befell her.  It is interesting to look at who Japanese American adolescents turned to for advice and support during their times at camp as well as the way in which death and funerals within the camps were addressed. The Japanese Americans’ times in camps such as Poston must not be forgotten because their time in camp had such profound impacts on the rest of their lives.


by Corinne Jurney

Works Cited

“List of Medical Personnel 1942,” Folder 74 in the Sally Lucas Jean papers #4290, Southern Historical     Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“Letter to Sally Lucas Jean 1942,” Folder 74 in the Sally Lucas Jean papers #4290, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Nakatani, Aiko. Japanese-American Internee Data File, 1942 – 1946. Records About Japanese Americans    Relocated During World War II, created 1988 – 1989, documenting the period 1942 –   1946. Record Group 210. National Archives, Washington, DC.

Nakatani, Kakichi R. Japanese-American Internee Data File, 1942 – 1946. Records About Japanese Americans Relocated During World War II, created 1988 – 1989, documenting the period 1942 – 1946. Record Group 210. National Archives, Washington, DC.

May K. Sasaki, interview by Lori Hoshino and Alice Ito, 1997, Densho.

“Buddhist funeral” (denshopd-i39-00019), Densho, Wing Luke Asian Museum: Hatate Collection.

“Camp funeral parlor” (denshopd-i37-00205), Densho, National Archives and Records Administration Collection.

“Funeral for Nisei soldier” (denshopd-i39-00019), Densho, National Archives and Records Administration Collection.

“Lily Sakemi, age 20” War Relocation Authority Photographs of Japanese-American Evacuation and Resettlement. January 1944. Series 12.

Agriculture within the Poston Relocation Center

Report 5, written on January 17th, 1943, is a personal letter from Sally Lucas Jean to her family and friends.  This letter offers a brief description of the cultivation of agriculture products within the Poston Relocation Center.  According to Report 5, farming was quite difficult inside the incarceration camps (Sally Lucas Jean, Letter).  Although over half of the Japanese Americans in California were successful farmers before the incarceration, farming while interned was no easy task (PJD 42).  While incarcerated, Japanese Americans had to deal with the challenges of farming in an unfamiliar territory.  However, it is quite evident that Japanese Americans were able to successfully grow various types of agriculture products despite the hardships of the incarceration.

According to the Sally Lucas Jean papers, droughts and a lack of water originally posed as a major problem for cultivation.  Although the Poston Relocation Center was only two and a half miles away from the Colorado River, much of the water that was brought into the incarceration camp was used for cooking and personal hygiene instead of agriculture production. (Burton 1).  Therefore, Japanese American farmers mainly relied on rainwater to bring nutrients to their agriculture products.  However, in 1943 a large-scale irrigation system was installed at the Poston Relocation Center.  This innovative irrigation system pumped water directly from the Colorado River onto the crops, which effectively provided agriculture products with the correct amount of water needed in order to thrive (Sally Lucas Jean, Relocation).

In this document, Sally Lucas Jean also mentioned the destructive dust storms, which were a major hardship for Japanese American farmers in Poston, Arizona.  The topsoil in the desert was very sandy and occasionally, severe windstorms would sweep through the countryside and redesign the entire layout of farmlands.  Japanese Americans were constantly plowing the fields in order to reshape the landscape and bring fertile soil to the top of the ground.  Sally Lucas Jean depicted this scene by saying, “…but one learns how to exist, without too much discomfort, even in the midst of the most severe sand storm.”  She later remarked, “The men driving huge tractor plows wear masks, similar to a gas mask, threading their way up and down the uneven ground with appearing ease.” (Sally Lucas Jean, Relocation).

The vast majority of agriculture production within the incarceration camps was commercial farming that was sponsored by the War Relocation Authority.  The War Relocation Authority would provide necessary farming equipment and then hire interned Japanese Americans for cheap labor.  Specifically, in Poston, a wide variety of crops were grown on the WRA sponsored farms including vegetables, berries, melons, potatoes, oats, and alfalfa.  With the correct conditions, the Poston Relocation Center could yield up to 41,000 acres of crops (Sally Lucas Jean, Letter).  In addition to this, crops could often be harvested multiple times throughout the extensive 258-day growing season.  According to Sally Lucas Jean, “In the summer, temperatures sometimes rise as high as 120 degrees.  But this warmth brings up the crops with remarkable speed.  Alfalfa, for example, sometimes returns as many as seven or eight outings a year.”  (Sally Lucas Jean, Relocation).  The crops harvested by the Japanese American farmers were consumed within the interment camps, sold to retailers across the country, or internationally distributed to American troops (PJD 126).

Even though the bulk of agriculture production completed within the incarceration camps was commercial farming sponsored by the WRA, many interned individuals still grew their own crops.  Victory gardens across the incarceration camps began to spring up in support of the American armed forces (PJD 140).  As one interned individual said, “When we entered camp, it was a barren desert.  When we left camp, it was a garden that had been built up without tools, it was green around the camp with vegetation, flowers and also with artificial lakes . . .” (PJD 161).  Specifically, the Japanese American families within Poston Relocation Center also harvested their own crops.  According to The Poston Chronicle, the local newspaper within the Poston Relocation Center, the community held a harvest festival during the middle of August in 1942.  This harvest festival was noted as being similar to a county fair in which individuals would enter their best vegetables into a contest (“Poston”).  Weather it was commercial farming or individual cultivation, Japanese Americans were surprisingly able to overcome all odds and successfully grow multiple agriculture products while interned in Poston, Arizona.

-Austin Powell

Works Cited

Burton, J., M. Farrell, F. Lord, and R. Lord. “Poston Relocation Center.” An Overview of World War II Japanese American Relocation Sites. National Park Service, 1 Sept. 2000. Web. 24 Mar. 2012. <>.

[Letter to Family and Friends written on Jan. 17, 1943: Folder 75, Report #5], in the Sally Lucas Jean papers #4290, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“Poston Official Daily Press Bulletin Vol. III No. 3 – July 25, 1942” (denshopd-i145-00064), Densho, the Poston Chronicle

[The Relocation Centers – Colorado River: Folder 75], in the Sally Lucas Jean papers #4290, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

First letter from Jean to family and friends

Jean's Letter to Family and Friends

On October 11th, 1942, Sally Lucas Jean wrote to her family and friends about her arrival at the Poston, Arizona camp and her experiences to date. This letter goes into great detail about the camp climate, the difference in how Caucasians and Japanese Americans were treated, and the school system. Jean uses a positive and respectful tone to convey her message, while helping the reader gain insight into a worker’s experience in the camps.

Aerial view of barracks

            In this letter, Jean mentions several times how different the Caucasians and the Japanese Americans were treated. She explains to the reader how the word “Caucasian” is used to distinguish the white employees from the Japanese Americans. She describes how the white employees are housed separately and more favorably than the Japanese Americans. They are housed in single rooms with bathrooms located in their barracks. This differs from the Japanese Americans’ barracks, where an entire Japanese American family would have one space assigned to them in a barrack that was typically about fifteen by twenty feet (“Oregon”). Their bathrooms would be located in a central location. Bathrooms were shared by upwards of 250 people with no partitions between the toilets or the showers. This gave them little privacy (“Relocation”). In some cases the sewer systems had not been built yet, forcing the residents to use outhouses (PJD 160)

Child eating in mess hall

The second time Jean shows this imbalance is when she says that, while the employees are served in a mess hall like the Japanese Americans, their food portions are more generous and have a greater variety.  The Japanese American’s’ provisions customarily consisted of canned rations and boiled potatoes. The most common meals were wieners, dry fish, rice, macaroni, and pickled vegetables (PJD 89). The milk was only for the children and often there were no fresh vegetables or fruit (“Food”). Many of the Japanese Americans were used to rice and vegetables, which made this food indigestible.

Sally Lucas Jean displays prejudice in her letter by saying that the Japanese Americans pay nothing for food or shelter. Her sentence implies that they are fortunate to be housed in the camps as well as lazy for not paying their way. However, this was a mandatory move for the Japanese Americans that took years out of their lives and they lost all citizenship rights. Japanese Americans were not allowed to leave the camps where they were surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards. They lost employment wages for the years that they were interned and suffered great financial losses. At the end, they were paid ten cents on the dollar for each dollar they had lost. After internment, they had difficulty finding jobs and obtaining loans. They suffered the loss of education and job training that could never be atoned for.  It was not a choice for them to be in the camps like it was for her and it was not a time they could happily look back on.

Jean refuses to voice an opinion on the number of the Japanese Americans that are disloyal. She does not accuse them of sabotage or disloyalty as General DeWitt did (PJD 47-92). Since she does not have the facts, she does not feel that she should make a decision on the loyalty of an entire group. Sally Lucas Jean decides to consider all of the Japanese Americans as being as loyal as she is. She compares them to the “Spanish-Americans” in New Mexico; their parents have partial knowledge of the language and area. “They too, have several generations settled in the land, but they are not being discriminated against like the Japanese Americans are.”

Her tone is rarely negative during the letter, and it often shows how much she respects and pities the

Church group

Japanese Americans that are interned. Jean recalls a time she attended a church service and realized the Japanese Americans were as devout as any other observer. The War Relocation Authority allowed almost all religions to worship, except for State Shinto worship, which was seen as Emperor worship (PJD 173). She describes how they were dressed modestly in Caucasian clothes with clean blouses and groomed hair. She calls them an unfortunate group of people and says she respects how they have accepted their fate. She was in a position of power and did not have to respect them or try to understand their plight; however, she chose to empathize with them and see life from their perspective.


–Mary Willoughby Romm


Burton, J., M. Farrel, F. Lord, and R. Lord. “Poston Relocation Center.” Confinement and Ethnicity: An Overview of World War II Japanese American Relocation Sites. National Park Service, 1 Sept. 2000. Web. 26 Feb. 2012. <>.

“Food.” University of Washington Libraries. 20 Mar. 1997. Web. 27 Feb. 2012. <>.

Letters to Family and Friends October 1942, Folder 75 in the Sally Lucas Jean papers #4290 Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“Oregon Responds to World War II: Not Exactly Paradise: Japanese American Internment Camps.” Oregon State Archives. Oregon State. Web. 29 Feb. 2012. <>.

“Relocation of Japanese Americans – War Relocation Authority – 1943.” Museum of the City of San Francisco. The Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco, May 1943. Web. 27 Mar. 2012. <>

Recommendations for Improvement in the Camps

On April 10th, 1945, when Sally Lucas Jean was leaving the Poston internment camp, she sent a letter of recommendations for improvement to Dr. Pressman, the director of Health and Sanitation at the camp.  She discussed her list of suggestions with Dr. Kasuga, chief of Internal Medicine and Chest [Medicine], and Dr. Kawaichi, chief of the Public Health Section. This letter addresses a broad range of issues, from medical concerns to traffic control.  These recommendations are of interest because they show the areas in which the camps were lacking.

In her letter of recommendations, Jean broaches the issue of tuberculosis in the camps.  Her suggestions focus on community education for the internees and employees. The letter notes that three ‘moving pictures’ on tuberculosis are available for such educational purposes. One such educational clip, produced by the National Tuberculosis Association, was an interview with a TB germ.  The video features a scientist talking to a tuberculosis germ about his life while conveying to the viewer the signs, symptoms, treatment, and prevention of tuberculosis (Goodbye, Mr. Germ). She recommends that these be pre-screened by appropriate medical and administrative personnel and then shown to interned Japanese Americans.  She wanted to make sure people knew how to recognize symptoms so treatment could begin as soon as possible. Once this was done, Jean recommended that programs be planned for the entire community so the films can be shown to everyone. The goal of these films was to educate the people in the camp on tuberculosis and gain positive support for the sanitarium at Phoenix.  Sanitariums were isolation areas for patients with tuberculosis.  In these areas, special care is given to ensure that tuberculosis is not spread, such as burning the cups the patients drink out of.  Jean reports that the sanitarium at Phoenix is ready to take in six new tuberculosis patients from Poston and encourages medical staff to make that happen as soon as possible. Jean suggests that after the films are shown, a presentation be given on the problem of tuberculosis in Poston, including pictures of the sanitarium at Phoenix.

Camp Hospital

Tuberculosis was a very serious matter in the camps.  As one internee, Frank Yamasaki, said in an interview, “In those days, tuberculosis was somebody saying you’ve got terminal cancer.”  When people in the camps were diagnosed with tuberculosis they were sent to a sanitarium, a center designed for patients with a long-term illness where they were treated and cared for in order to try to prevent the spread of disease.  Tuberculosis was a major concern during this time period outside of the camps as well.  In 1940, tuberculosis ranked number seven on the top ten leading causes of death in the United States (Grove).  In 1947, tuberculosis was claiming 50,000 lives per year in the United States (“Mayor Urges Citizens”).  Tuberculosis was not only very contagious from person to person, but it was also rarely handed down from parents to children (“Tuberculosis in Old People”). Typically, tuberculosis is an airborne disease; sneezing, coughing, or spitting passes it from person to person. In 1939, almost 19,000 deaths were contributed to tuberculosis in the nation’s 46 largest cities (“Job for the Seals”).  The disease was a large enough issue that the National Tuberculosis Association began to sell stamps to raise funds to support the fight against tuberculosis in 1940.  The revenue supported clinics, testing, chest x-rays, social service, and educational work conducted by the association (“Treating Tuberculosis at Home”).

Tuberculosis Screening

Other than suggesting ways to improve community education on tuberculosis, Jean includes other suggestions for the camp as well.  Her first recommendation is that the camp personnel who requested examinations should receive them as soon as possible.  Next she suggests that camp teachers and internees should all have typhoid inoculations.  She also recommends that all children who have not been in school in the camp thus far be given an examination before starting school.  Jean puts a major emphasis on tonsillectomies.  She says that there are many children in need of tonsillectomies but not enough doctors to be able to handle all the cases.  Her recommendation is that an Indian Reserve be contacted to see if they can lend a specialist to the camp.  This is an interesting suggestion because Poston is uniquely located between the Indian Affairs bureau and the WRA, so it may be a subtle comment on the inefficiency of the WRA.  Jean’s next suggestion is that there be a supply of safe drinking water at schools.  She says that plans had been made, enacted, and failed previously, but that it was time to figure out a solution.  Lastly, Jean suggests that something be done about traffic safety and accident prevention as well as suggesting that there be a broader distribution of first aid kits in public places.

-Helen Robertson

Works Cited

Frank Yamasaki, interviewed by Lori Hoshino and Stephen Fugita, August 18, 1997, Densho Visual Historical Collection, Densho.

Grove, Robert D., and Alice M. Hetzel. “Vital Statistics Rates in the United States 1940-1960.” (1968): 79. U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. Web. 1 Mar 2012. <>.

“Job for the Seals.” Palm Beach Post 27 Nov 1940, 10A. Web. 1 Mar. 2012. <,3159805&dq=tuberculosis&hl=en>.

Letter of Recommendations for Improvement April 10, 1943 Folder 74 in the Sally Lucas Jean papers #4290, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.,217424

“Mayor Urges Citizens to Join Fight on TB.” Sarasota-Gerald Tribute 21 Nov 1947, n. pag. Web. 1 Mar. 2012. <,4720981&dq=tuberculosisspread&hl=en>.

“Treating Tuberculosis at Home.” Greensburg Daily Tribune 5 Dec 1941, 21. Web. 1 Mar. 2012. <,3287751&dq=tuberculosis stamps&hl=en>.

“Tuberculosis in Old People Often May Spread Contagion.” Beaver County Times [Rochester] 10 Dec 1942, 8. Web. 1 Mar. 2012. <,3735433&dq=tuberculosis spread&hl=en>

Ulmer, Edgar, dir. Goodbye, Mr. Germ. Perf. James Kirkwood. National Tuberculosis Association, 1940. Film. <>.