Posted by: Ed Darrell | February 9, 2011

There was a Japanese internment camp in Texas during World War II?

Girl Scouts at Japanese Doll Day celebration, in Crystal City, Texas, internment center, 1943-45

Each of us has pockets of ignorance; some of the pockets are larger than others.

How did I miss that there were Japanese-American internees in Texas? If I stumbled across that fact before, it really didn’t register. Reviewing the website for the University of Texas – San Antonio’s Institute of Texas Cultures, I came across the Spring 2007 Newsletter, which is dedicated to the Crystal City internment facility.

Crystal City is unknown to many other Texans, too, I wager. Study of a list of the War Department “Relocation” camps shows nothing in Texas. Surprise! The U.S. Justice Department also operated camps of interned Americans of Japanese descent. The War Department rounded up Japanese Americans in west coast states and their neighbors; the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization Services, the old INS which was rolled into the Department of Homeland Security after the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, arrested and detained Japanese-Americans from the rest of the United States. INS operated at least four such camps in Texas.

Crystal City was a camp for migrant workers before the Justice Department acquired it for internment; it differed from other INS camps because families were interned together there. Most of the other INS camps interned only people whose loyalties were suspect, without their families.

Texas students need to beef up their knowledge of the entire Japanese-American internment case, according to test results in the TAKS exit test over the past three years. Clearly, if I didn’t know about the internment in Texas, some teachers need to beef up their knowledge, too (and that might be one of the sources of the kids’ test troubles).

UTSA’s Institute for Texan Cultures (ITC) offers the newsletter, “The Riddle of Crystal City,” plus a lesson plan on photos from the Texas camps (this qualifies as a DBQ activity, I’ll bet), a bibliography pitched at students (give a copy to your school’s librarian), and a webliography to aid students doing research projects.

See also these previous posts (and especially OnlyCrook’s supplement of information on the Oregon post):

Here are the Social Studies TEKS that relate to the history of Japanese internment in Texas, as described by the UTSA lesson plan:

Social Studies TEKS applications of this activity:
Scope and Sequence:

The content of this activity contributes to the student’s understanding of a traditional point of reference—World War II—in Texas and American history, the responsibilities of citizens to preserve freedom, and the consequences of failing to honor diversity within unity.

Grade 4: Even though the Crystal City Camp was located in Texas and affected Texans as well as others, the photograph activity is most useful for strengthening the Social Studies Skills: 4. 23A, 4.23B, 4.23C, 4.24A, and 4.24B. Continuing discussion may encourage skills such as 4.22D and 4.22E.

Grade 5: Even though the camp experience is related to the United States during World War II, the photograph activity is most useful for strengthening the Social Studies Skills: 5.25A, 5.25B, 5.26A, 5.26B, 5.26C, 5.27A, and 5.27B. Continuing discussion may encourage skills such as 5.25D and 5.25E.

Grade 6: Use the photograph activity to strengthen Social Studies Skills: 6.21A, 6.21B, 6.22A, 6.22B, 6.22C, 6.23A, 6.23B, and 6.23C. Continuing discussion may encourage skills such as 6.21D and 6.21E.

Grade 7: Even though the Crystal City Camp was located in Texas and affected Texans as well as others (7.7D), the photograph activity is most useful for strengthening the Social Studies Skills: 7.21A, 7.21B, 7.21G, 7.22A, 7.23A, 7.23B. Continuing discussion may encourage skills such as 7.21D, 7.21E, and 7.21F.

Grade 8: Use the photograph activity to strengthen Social Studies Skills: 8.30A, 8.30B, 8.31A, 8.32A, and 8.32B. Continuing discussion may encourage skills such as 8.30D, 8.30E, 8.30F, and 8.30G.

Post material borrowed with express permission from Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub.

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Responses

  1. Thats crazy.

    • Why do you think “that’s crazy?” What do you mean by it? Crazy that people would be interned in such camps, crazy that it happened in Texas, crazy that wars occur?

      Please explain.


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