Recommendation For Health Education Council

In this document, Sally Lucas Jean makes a recommendation for the creation of the “Health Education Council.” The Council would be created with the purpose of educating the public on matters relating to their health.  The recommendation was written in 1942. At this time, Jean had recently started working in the Poston camp. It is evident that her concern for the health of the interned Japanese-Americans motivated her to advocate for the formation of this organization.

With the creation of the Health Education Council, Jean wished to appoint people to new positions such as a Director of Public Health, a Director of Sanitation, and a Nutrition Consultant. The various positions would be in charge of weekly meetings that would address problems with public health and how to best deal with them through “education in health.” Before this recommendation, numerous medical positions had already been created for the camp. These included a Chief of Internal Medicine, Dentist, Dietician, Optometrist, Laboratory Technician, and many more (“Medical Personnel”). The positions recommended  by Jean seemed to be more geared toward the educational and preventive aspect of the medical field, rather than the actual practices of diagnosing and providing treatment for ailments.

One of the most prominent health issues in the camp at this time was tuberculosis (Lillquist, 401). This was largely due to the location of the Poston camp, which was in the middle of a large desert. The dry air, combined with dust, caused numerous respiratory problems among the internees. According to Jean, there had been 177 diagnosed cases of tuberculosis in Poston by the time she had written this recommendation. However, only 55 people could be treated at the hospital at one time. Jean understandably thought that educating the public on the symptoms of the illness would be beneficial in allowing them to get help if it was needed. Jean also states that the close living quarters of the camp increased the chance of contracting tuberculosis: “The limitations of living space and the close proximity of human beings to each other renders the situation a critical one.”

Poston After Sundown

Jean goes on to elaborate on the issue of disease treatment within the camp. She states that there are more reported cases of venereal diseases than are being treated at the time of the recommendation. There was definitely a problem with healthcare, as the camp had inadequate facilities to treat its large volume of detainees. The problem would be made even worse by the lack of passable supplies in the hospitals. Some of them did not even have penicillin to treat simple illnesses (Sato Interview).

In the case of tuberculosis, the patient would be sent to Phoenix to be treated if there was not room in the camp, but someone with a venereal disease might go altogether untreated. Jean writes, “As the cases registered upon entering Poston exceeds those now under treatment it is obvious that all patient(s) suffering with venereal disease are not under treatment.” Once again, it is apparent that Jean’s work is very important because she reports problems that would likely go unnoticed otherwise.

New mothers would often go to their doctor once or twice and would then be left on their own to figure things out. Jean states, “…it is hoped that a carefully developed follow up procedure, such as has been found essential to assure women returning to the clinic at regular intervals, will be put into action at an early date.” Jean advocates for an educational system that allows the nutrition consultant to work with new mothers to better care for their children. This would be especially important since many of the camps had the very basic food supplies needed. Mothers were also forced to walk many “blocks” in order to feed their infants (PJD, 162).

Next, Jean focuses on accident prevention. “An educational campaign is much needed to develop a change in attitude toward safety measures in the homes, the schools and on the roads of Poston,” she states. Some of the dangerous situations arose in the camps because of improper living conditions. In some cases, buildings designed to accommodate 300 people had to hold upwards of 900 (PJD, 160).

It is worth noting that Jean largely ignores some of the foremost health problems of the camp, like heatstroke and dysentery (Lillquist, 406). It is possible that there was simply nothing that could be done about these conditions because of the extreme heat in this area. However, it seems as though education could aid the detainees in avoiding the heat and the importance of staying hydrated.

Overall, this letter is very significant because it allows us to learn more abut the health problems the internees faced in Poston. It allows us to more accurately analyze the specific problems that some of the Poston incarcerees were forced to overcome. These documents also allow us to learn more about how the camp administration responded to the troubles Japanese Americans were facing.


-Seth Beane



Works Cited

“Health Education Council”. Folder 74: Poston, Arizona-Health Education Council in the Sally Lucas Jean papers #4290, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Folder 74: Poston, Arizona – Medical Personnel in the Sally Lucas Jean papers #4290, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.



Lillquist, Karl. Imprisoned in the Desert: The Geography of World War II Era, Japanese American Relocation Centers In the Western United States. Central Washington University, 2007. 394-450. Print.


Sato, Sarah. Personal Interview. Densho Digital Collection. 09 Apr 1998.

Letter from Dept. of Public Health about the Care of the Premature Baby

Poston Public Health Document

A document was sent from the Department of Public Health to an incarceration camp in Poston, Arizona in August 1943, titled “Important Points on the Care of the Premature Baby.”  It explains the steps that need to be taken to carry out three important requirements for the care of a premature baby: the baby should be kept warm, protected against infection, and well nourished.  The instructions provide an insight on how premature infants were cared for in Poston. The document was possibly most relevant to Mrs. Miure, the public health nurse of the camp (“Medical Personnel”).

Although health care in the internment camps was free, it proved to be inadequate in many different ways.  There were frequent shortages in equipment, medicine, milk, and other supplies; additionally, there was a shortage in medical personnel, especially nurses, which caused many overworked doctors/nurses and treatment delays.  The shortage of nurses was so significant that internees were trained as nurse’s aides in a rushed and insufficient training program (PJD 163-164).

By comparing these instructions to those in the American Journal of Nursing of 1945, we see a number of omissions in the Public Health document.  The first requirement that is elaborated upon in the document is the need to keep the baby warm.  The instructions state that upon delivery of the baby, he/she should be wrapped in a warm blanket and placed into a warm bed.  There are many specific points that are left out such as the temperature of the bed.

Cheiko Neeno, a Nurse's Aide student at the Poston Hospital, feeding a baby in the children's ward

According to the American Journal of Nursing, as the infant develops and weighs more, the temperature of the heated bed should gradually decrease.  Infants need to be kept in an environment of a specific temperature based on their weight.  Infants that weigh less than three pounds need a bed that is maintained at 90 degrees (F), infants of 3-4 pounds need 85 degrees, infants of 4-5 pounds need 80 degrees, and infants of 5 ½ pounds need 75 degrees.  Also, the document states that the temperature of the room should be kept at a constant rate between 75 and 80 degrees; however, this is not entirely accurate.

Although a 75-80 degree room temperature works for most infants, it cannot be set in stone for every one of them.  The temperature may be adjusted to cater to the needs of any particular infant based on his/her reaction to the environment.  In addition, as the temperature decreases, the humidity requirement increases; the ideal humidity is noted to be approximately 55 to 65 percent (Wallinger 898).  The humidity of the baby’s environment is just as important as the temperature, however this valuable information is absent in the Public Health document as well.  Although it does state, “If the air is very dry, moisture should be added so as to prevent drying out of the baby’s respiratory tract,” it does not identify/explain the device used to measure the air’s dryness, nor does it specify how much moisture should be added to the air.

However, Poston was located in a dry, hot desert, where aspects of the indoor environment, such as temperature and humidity, may have been difficult to control.  Similarly, the Gila River incarceration camp was located in the middle of a desert.  The incarcerees at Gila constructed their own homemade cooling systems, in which a fan would blow out air that was cooled by a water source.  The makeshift air conditioning system allowed the people to live in 80-degree rooms when the weather was up to 100-115 degrees (Hoshida).  It is reasonable to believe that the incarcerees at Poston may have also had to create their own A/C units to ward off the harsh outdoor heat.  As for the Poston hospital, an exact depiction of the A/C system used there remains questionable, but it may be assumed that it was not advanced and flexible enough to maintain an absolutely ideal environment for all of the premature infants.

To protect the infant from infection, the Public Health document includes a few precautions that should be taken, one being that flies, mosquitoes, and all other insects should be kept out of the room.  This is indicated as a precaution because it may have been a major issue in the hospital due to its poor conditions, which allowed insects to easily make their way into rooms.  Also, it is important to point out that the instructions omitted the necessity of an “observation room” where any seemingly ill premature infants could have been moved to and checked up on; the separation of well-infants and ill-infants would prevent any illnesses from spreading (Wallinger 900).

As for the instructions regarding the nourishing of the baby, this section seems more thorough than the instructions for the other two requirements.  The instructions state that the infant does not need to be fed milk or water for up to 12 hours after its birth; however, it could have been up to 18 hours, or even longer, to make sure that the infant developed a gagging reflex before it was fed by mouth (Wallinger 899).  Obviously, it was extremely important for infants, premature and mature, to be fed milk to benefit their health and development.  In the oral history of Aiko Herzig, a mother who had given birth to her daughter in one of the internment camps, as well as a significant leader and activist throughout the redress movement in the 1980’s, she mentioned that her child was born with an allergy to the powdered milk provided by the camp.  Herzig should have fed her canned Carnation milk, but the medical personnel told her that those were only sent to the armed forces.  Herzig, who received minimum salary, could not afford to buy canned milk from outside of the camp.  As a result, her daughter was frequently hospitalized with stomach disorders because she was deprived from the appropriate type of milk.  She lacked much of the nutrition that would have been provided by canned milk during her infantry, which has affected her health for the rest of her life (Herzig interview).  The Public Health document did not distinguish what type of milk would be the most appropriate to feed to the infants because Poston presumably only had powdered milk as well, which only adds to the numerous inadequacies found in the document and in the camp’s health care.

By Tammy Chen

Works Cited

Aiko Herzig, interview by Emiko Omori and Chizu Omori, 20 Mar. 1994, Emiko and Chizuko

Omori Collection, Densho.

Hoshida, George Y.  Life of a Japanese Immigrant Boy in Hawaii &

America.  Self-published, 1982.

“Important Points on the Care of the Premature Baby Aug. 1943” Folder 74, in the Sally Lucas

Jean papers #4290, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“Medical Personnel,” in the Sally Lucas Jean papers #4290, Southern Historical Collection, The

Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Wallinger, Elgie M. “Nursing Care of the Premature Infant.” The American Journal of Nursing

45.11 (1945): 898-901. Web. 1 Mar. 2012.


Report on Health Care Facilities and Living Conditions

Report #1

The document titled “Report #1” of the Sally Lucas Jean Papers gives a general synopsis of Sally Lucas Jean’s first impressions of the Colorado River Relocation Center, a Japanese American internment camp located in Poston, Arizona. She begins the report with a description of her arrival at the camp, where she was welcomed with much hospitality and taken to her living quarters. She then describes the climate, geography, and living situations in the camp. Jean also gives an overview of the education and health care facilities available. Two of the main focuses, however, are Poston’s public health facilities and the living conditions of the staff compared to the living conditions of the Japanese American internees.

In the report, Jean puts a large emphasis on the internment camp’s health facilities. Jean, a public health educator and nurse, arrived at Poston on September 30, 1942, to work for the camp’s Public Health Department. Upon her arrival, the camp’s health facilities were still developing, even though the first Japanese American evacuees arrived at Poston almost four months prior, in May 1942 (Burton 216). She compliments the development progress, however, stating that a “well-equipped and excellently run hospital” has been established thus far (“Report #1”). The hospital staff consists of Japanese nurses and doctors who, according to Jean, “cooperate fully and efficiently.” There are also seven trained Caucasian nurses, whom Jean describes as “splendid.” She reports that her secretary is an “intelligent Japanese girl,” and although she is inexperienced, she is “eager and competent” (“Report #1”). Jean seems to be surprised by the excellence of the hospital facility, and is very grateful to work with such a qualified staff.

Japanese American Nurses at Poston, 1943

The camp’s medical workers were continuously taking action to improve the facility. In February 1943, the first Poston Medical and Public Health Conference was held to determine ways to advance the health department’s growth and to increase the quality of service to patients. After a five-hour meeting, the camp’s physicians, nurses, and public health experts decided on a few ways to improve Poston’s Public Health Department as a whole. Obtaining more hospital beds, hiring more nurses, ordering general healthcare supplies, and increasing tuberculosis testing were some of the proposals made (“Poston Medical”). Jean’s report mentions that improvements in the health facility were needed, and that this conference was especially helpful in the enhancement of Poston’s medical services.

In addition to the public health facilities, Jean’s report also focuses on the living conditions in the camp. She has a very positive reaction to the barracks, mentioning the “excellent three-quarters bed” and that the furnishings are “sufficient for comfort and convenience” (“Report #1”). Jean and other Caucasian workers lived in separate barracks from the Japanese American internees. Staff housing was much more accommodating than the housing of the Japanese American evacuees, with amenities such as indoor plumbing, painted walls, cooling systems, and refrigerators (PJD 158).

Exterior view of a barrack at Poston

The barracks occupied by the Japanese American evacuees were in comparably poor condition, but they tried to make the best of their living situations. Jean states that by the time she arrived in Poston, many families had already decorated their barracks, showing “indications of culture” in the camp (“Report #1”). Nonetheless, it was hard to disguise how dirty and barren the barracks were.

In most of the evacuees’ housing, there was a single light bulb hanging from the ceiling, and the only furnishings were a few small cots and makeshift bookshelves and tables (PJD, 159). Compared to Jean’s barrack, which housed only 12 staff members, the evacuees lived in cramped quarters where “whole families lived together in roughly divided spaces.” Sometimes over six families would live in one block of barracks (“Report #1”). Because of racial prejudice, Poston’s staff members undeniably resided in higher quality housing than the Japanese American internees.

Jean’s initial report on the circumstances at Poston War Relocation Center is significant because it gives outsiders a quick glimpse into what life was like in the camp. By giving a reliable description of the barracks and health care facilities with no embellishments, readers of the report are able to better understand the circumstances faced in Poston, both positive and negative.

Ellen Gould 


Burton, Jeffery F. Confinement and Ethnicity: An Overview of World War II Japanese American Relocation Sites. University of Washington Press, 2002. Google eBooks. Web. 25 Feb. 2012.

“Report #1,” Folder 74, in the Sally Lucas Jean papers #4290, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“Poston Medical, Public Health Conference Successfully Held in Unit One.” Poston Chronicle. 18 Feb. 1943. Densho Digital Archive. Web. 1 Mar. 2012. <>

1943 Speech on Public Health (Part I)

Sally Lucas Jean's speech "Health Education in a Japanese Relocation Centre"

On October 12, 1943, Sally Lucas Jean gave a speech entitled “Health Education in a Japanese Relocation Centre”. The speech was delivered at the Hotel Pennsylvania in New York City for the War Time Public Health Conference in front of the Public Health Education Section of the American Public Health Association (APHA), and discussed the “Discovery of New Resources for Health Education in War Time”. Jean worked as a nurse in Poston, Arizona, in the largest internment camp for Japanese Americans. She played an integral role in the organization of evacuee doctors and the training of nurse aides. Additionally, she designed and implemented a Health Education program in the camp. This program, which she discussed in her speech, helped to influence the APHA’s qualification standard of health educators which was decided upon after the Conference (American Public Health Association).

At the time of Jean’s speech, America was in the midst of WWII and the incarceration. Japanese Americans were forced to leave to homes and businesses to move into hastily built Assembly Centers and eventually, more permanent Relocation Centers. The Poston internment camp was located in the dry desert of Arizona. Jean addressed the many discomforts and difficulties of the desert location for the internees – the cramped living spaces, the weather extremes, the dust storms – but then goes on to describe the camp’s efficient and effective hospital and Public Health Department, which has organized the training of nurse aides, health education, and prevention of disease.

Thus, in spite of poor conditions, the camp had an excellent Public Health Program. This is contradictory information for Jean to share in her speech, especially considering her audience and purpose. Jean’s speech is meant to inform medical professionals on Public Health Education. She could have given a simple introduction on the internment and Poston and gone immediately to discussion of the Health Education program there, but instead spends several paragraphs describing the horrible conditions at Poston, which is unnecessary information for the occasion. Although Jean appears to be reporting objectively in third person about Poston, her use of harsh language when describing the camp and other subtle mentions of information irrelevant to Public Health show her opinion of the terrible conditions at the camp and evoke sympathy from the audience towards the Japanese American situation.

Jean describes the cramped living spaces at Poston that require more than one family to occupy a single 29 by 25 foot space as an obvious “disruption of family life” (“Health Education” 2). Jean could have said that this provides grounds for lack of hygiene, health, and quick and easy spread of disease, but she chooses to acknowledge its harsh impact on family life instead. She continues to on to describe the schools, “…where on cold mornings both teacher and children shiver” (“Health Education” 2). Any mention of children, the pure and innocent, suffering and “shivering” in the cold at the camp draws the audience’s attention to the cruelty of the camp situation as well. She describes the desert sun that makes efficient work “impossible” and how dust storms penetrate the poorly built barracks and cover everything in silt (“Health Education” 2). Needless to say, these are miserable living conditions, but Jean concludes by saying that, “The internees have accepted all these discomforts with the stoicism of their race” (“Health Education” 2). The fact that the Japanese Americans accepted these horrible conditions without complaint demonstrates that they are mild-mannered and willing to endure the hardships of camp – not rebellious and vengeful like many Americans at the time thought.

A typical interior scene in one of the barrack apartments at Manzanar - an internment camp. Note the cloth partition which lends a small amount of privacy

In fact, anytime Jean speaks of the internees, she speaks of them with high regard and praise. When she details the training program of the nurse aides at Poston she describes them as, “…fine students and excellent workers…during the difficult days of adjustment and organizations building…they showed not the first indication of defeat or lack of spirit in any situation” (“Health Education” 3). The fact that Jean speaks so highly of Japanese Americans, who at the time of her speech were targets of severe suspicion by most American people, is a stark contrast with the massive anti-Japanese sentiments and assumptions made by Americans towards anyone of Japanese descent. Not only does Jean make Japanese Americans look good by calling them hardworking and spirited, she also mentions that they are doing all of this hard work as volunteers. They are performing nurse duties without being paid appropriately – yet another moment where Jean shows the audience how they willingly accept the unfairness of their situation.

At the conclusion of Jean’s speech, she deviates away from the purpose and once again appears to be defending Japanese Americans. She uses another powerful, contradicting statement to describe Japanese Americans in the camp: “…these people are virtually prisoners and many of them have only lately learned the ways of life in a democracy” (“Health Education” 9). Essentially, Jean is calling the Japanese Americans “prisoners” in a “democracy.” America’s democracy was founded on the principles of life and liberty, two things that prisoners do not have. Her use of these two opposing words at the end of her speech subtly concludes that the internment is a contradiction of the American way.

This conclusion is further supported by Jean’s final statement: “It seems fair to assume that these 18,000 people – more than two-thirds of whom are citizens of the United

"Evacuation Instructions"

States – will be able to leave this Relocation Center with improved health and vitality, capable of taking their proper place as good citizens in the fabric of American life” (“Health Education” 9). While this statement talks of the improved health of Japanese Americans due to the Health Education Program, there seems to be deeper meaning in the word choice of the sentence. Jean reiterates the number of “people,” not Japanese Americans nor the derogatory term “Japs,” but relatable, every day “people,” at an astounding 18,000. Notably, she adds that two-thirds of them are U.S. “citizens,” identifying that the aforementioned “prisoners” are Americans whose rights are protected under the Constitution. This is interesting as the government during the internment used the term “non-aliens” to describe Japanese Americans who were legal citizens. Government notices informing Japanese Americans about the evacuation stated that, “…all persons of Japanese ancestry, both alien and non-alien, will be evacuated from the above area…” (“Evacuation” instructions). The notice only describes Japanese Americans as “Japanese,” “alien,” and “non-alien.” This wording ties Japanese Americans exclusively to Japan and not to America, and does not even mention the fact that many internees are American citizens. It sounds much worse to evacuate American “citizens,” who are associated with rights and freedoms, than it does to evacuate ambiguous “non-aliens” of Japanese ancestry. Thus, Jean’s use of the word “citizens” takes a subtle stab at the government’s terms and legitimizes internees as Americans, contrary to the general public opinion of Japanese Americans at the time.

Jean continues to boost the view of Japanese Americans by saying that when they leave the camp they will take their “proper place,” insinuating that the right place is in America, not Poston nor Japan. For the sake of the Health Conference, she could have ended her speech after “health and vitality,” but instead she decides to extend her conclusion to the idea that Japanese Americans will return to society as “good citizens.” At this point in time, America was still caught up in the hysteria of the war with Japan and the belief that Japanese Americans were spies and not “good citizens.” Jean, however, contradicts the masses and instills a new and positive view of Japanese Americans in her audience.

Overall, Jean Lucas Jean’s speech at the War Time Public Health Conference provides the detailing of an effective Health Program implemented under the poor conditions at Poston. Yet, in her subtle digressions from the main health issues of the camps, she sheds a positive light on Japanese Americans in a time when media and propaganda led America to think the worst of them. In her juxtaposition of the horrible, inhumane conditions at Poston with the goodness and spirit of Japanese Americans, she sheds light on the injustice of the internment.

 -Meredith Richard


Works Cited

American Public Health Association. “APHA History and Timeline.” American Public Health Association, 2012. Web. 29 Feb. 2012.

“Evacuation” instructions (denshopd-p25-00049), Densho, the Yamada Family Collection.

“Health Education in A Japanese Relocation Centre” Folder 75: 3-11, in the Sally Lucas Jean papers #4290, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Lange, Dorothea. “A Typical Interior Scene in One of the Barrack Apartments at This Center.” Calisphere. University of California. Web. 10 Apr. 2012.