Joan Gillis was cleaning out the attic and came upon a box of letters from 70 years ago.
"The earliest letters date back to the spring of 1942, when an estimated 22,000 Japanese Canadians were forcibly removed from the B.C. coast by government order. Some were sent to work camps in the Interior; others were sent to work on farms in the Prairies.
Gillis was only 13 years old at the time. Most of her correspondents were that age or several years older, all of them Japanese-Canadian. They ranged from close friends to passing acquaintances, most of them pupils at Queen Elizabeth Secondary School in Surrey, B.C."The letters from young Japanese-Canadian teens to Joan Gillis are an important part of a history that both Canadians and Americans have mostly forgotten. Take a look at the Dearest Joan Project and read excerpts from some of the letters. Like any normal teens, they were interested in the goings on at their school and the songs on the Hit Parade, but of course their situations were not normal.
Letters fascinate me. Letters from friends and family, from authors and historical personages, and from these teens who had one friend with whom they were able to keep in contact during the most difficult time of their young lives. The letters are now in the University of British Columbia's Rare Books and Special Collections.
Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Watkatsuki Houston is a good book for young people to get an idea of an Japanese-American internment camp. Jeanne was seven when her family was sent to Manzanar.
The sites were inland and isolated and included: Tule Lake, CA; Minidoka, ID; Manzanar, CA; Topaz, UT; Jerome, ARK; Heart Mountain, WY; Poston, AZ; Granada, CO; and Rohwer, ARK.
More information can be found at Japanese Relocation During World War II. The article from the National Archives includes both fiction and nonfiction about the period.