Vintage Photos of Japanese-American Life After the War in the 1940s

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On February 19, 1942, shortly after Imperial Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, a policy that people of Japanese ancestry would be forced to relocate and incarcerated in concentration camps in the western interior of the States. 

Following a Supreme Court decision in 1944, which ruled that the War Relocation Authority “has no authority to subject citizens who are concededly loyal to its leave procedure,” the interment came to an end, even though it was not only until March 1946 that the last camp was officially shut down. 

These photographs taken by American photographer Charles Mace below depict the Japanese-American reintegrating into American society after the wartime internment, but in retrospect, it is difficult not to consider them as pure propaganda for the government:

Children have their own standards in their selection of friends and playmates, Libertyville, Illinois, 1943.

A committee on housing is shown in session in Indianapolis. Mrs. Royal McLain (left) is seen discussing ways and means of finding suitable quarters for the many relocatees who are finding employment in Indianapolis, 1943.

Miss Susie Yuasa, 18, a former evacuee from the Jerome Relocation Center, now employed in a Chicago candy factory, turns from her task momentarily to display the familiar symbol of victory, 1943.

Miss Irene Eiko Yonemura works in the Peoria, Illinois, public library, where she has found work much to her liking and her training. Miss Yonemura is from the Poston center and came to Peoria in the summer of 1943, 1944.

Another freedom of considerable importance to the young feminine mind in America is the freedom to shop for and wear pretty clothes. These two Nisei girls are again enjoying that privilege, Chicago, Illinois, 1943.

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