Guide to the Topaz Internment Camp Documents,
1942-1943

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Overview of the Collection

Creator: Central Utah Relocation Center.
Title: Topaz Internment Camp Documents
Dates: 1942-1943 ( inclusive )
Quantity: 1 box (0.5 linear feet)
Collection Number: USU_COLL MSS 170
Summary: Publications and documents produced by Topaz Internment Camp residents, and memos from the War Relocation Authority to the staff of the Central Utah Relocation Camp concerning Japanese culture. The collections also includes issues of the Topaz Times, the Trek, the 1943 Topaz High School yearbook.
Repository: Utah State University. Special Collections and Archives
Manuscript Collection

Merrill-Cazier Library
Utah State University
3000 Old Main Hill
Logan, UT 84322-3000
Phone: 435 797-2663
Fax: 435 797-2880
Email: scweb@usu.edu

Languages: Material in English 
Sponsor: Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant, 2007-2008

Biographical Note

In response to Executive Order 9066 issued on February 19, 1942, relocation centers for Japanese-Americans residing in coastal areas were established. The Central Utah Relocation Center in Topaz, Utah was opened on September 11, 1942. Residents produced a daily newspaper called the Topaz Times and a quarterly literary magazine, the Trek. The number of Japanese held at Topaz grew smaller until the camp closed on October 31, 1945.>

Content Description

Collection primarily includes publications produced by residents; also material concerning activities at the camp, memos from the War Relocation Authority to the staff of the Central Utah Relocation Camp concerning Japanese culture (including "Dealing with Japanese-Americans" by John F. Embree) and two articles about the Topaz internment camp (Arrington, "Price of Predjudice" and Toelkin, "Cultural maintenance and ethnic intensification in two Japanese-American World War II internment camps"). Includes issues of the Topaz Times, the Trek, the 1943 Topaz High School yearbook.

Other Descriptive Information

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, a fear of a Japanese insurrection along the Western coastal areas of the United States grew rapidly among Americans. Coupled with a long history of prejudices against the Japanese, these suspicions resulted in Franklin D. Roosevelt issuing the Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942. As a result 110,000 people of Japanese ancestry, two-thirds of which were American citizens, were forcibly removed by the Federal Government from their homes in militarily strategic coastal areas. At first these evacuees were placed in assembly centers, which were often abandoned racetracks and stadiums. Later, they were removed to one of ten permanent relocation centers.

One of those relocation centers was established at Topaz, UT, just outside the town of Delta. Opening on September 11, 1942, the Topaz camp was located on 17,500 acres of alkali land in the middle of the Sevier Desert. A layer of dust seemed to coat the camp and extreme temperatures plagued the evacuees. Often in the mornings temperatures would plummet to around freezing, while the afternoons saw summer-like heat.

After enduring a two and a half day train and bus ride from the Tanforan assembly center in California, the new residents of Topaz found that the construction of the camp had not been completed. Residents, at first, had to deal with cramped living spaces and cots without mattresses. Barracks often lacked stoves and proper insulation, and some of these utilities were not installed until months after the evacuees had arrived.

In response to the chaos camp residents experienced because of relocation, government officials tried to give residents a semblance of normal life. A wide range of educational endeavors for both children and adults were available to the camp residents. Different athletic and entertainment activities also went on in the camp. A daily newspaper called the Topaz Times was started and maintained by camp residents. In addition a quarterly literary magazine, the Trek, was published. A variety of religions, such as Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, and Seventh Day Adventists, were active in the camp and formed an Interfaith Church Council.

Soon after the evacuees were placed in camps, efforts to relocate them began. College students, after rigorous screening, eventually were allowed to attend universities, usually on the East Coast. Other evacuees were allowed to obtain permits that enabled them to hold jobs outside of the camp. Over time, the number of Japanese held at Topaz grew smaller until the camp closed on October 31, 1945, two months after the Second World War ended. Many of these evacuees went back to their original homes in the San Francisco Bay Area. Other evacuees at Topaz chose to remain in Utah and settled along the Wasatch front.

Use of the Collection

Restrictions on Access :  

No restrictions on use, except: not available through interlibrary loan.

Restrictions on Use :  

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances.

Permission to publish material from the Topaz Internment Camp Documents must be obtained from the Special Collections Manuscript Curator and/or the Special Collections Department Head.

Preferred Citation :  

Initial Citation: Topaz Internment Camp Documents COLL MSS 170, Box [ ]. Special Collections and Archives. Utah State University Merrill-Cazier Library. Logan, Utah.

Following Citations:COLL MSS 170, USUSCA.

Alternative Forms Available :  

Topaz Japanese-American Relocation Center Digital Collection

Administrative Information

Arrangement :

Newspapers are arranged chronologically, while other materials are arranged topically.

Processing Note :  

Processed in February of 2000

Acquisition Information :  

Unknown.

Bibliography :  Monographs
  • The Price Of Prejudice Arrington, Leonard. The Price Of Prejudice . Logan, UT: Faculty Association, Utah State University, 1962.
  • Citizen 13660 Okubo, Miné. Citizen 13660 . New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 1946.
  • Topaz, the City of Dust By Yoshiko Uchida Layton, Stanford J (Ed.). The skeleton in Grandpa's barn and other stories of growing up in Utah . Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books, 2008.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Box
Folder
1 1 Topaz Times 1942 September 26-1942 December 30
1 2 Topaz Times 1943 January 01- March 13
1 3 Topaz Times Jr. 1942 December 23
1 4 Trek 1942 December
1 5 Trek 1943 February
1 6 Protestant church materials, including constitution and program
1 7 Topaz City High School materials (2 items); Community Activity Section, Adult Entertainment Program agenda (1 item)
1 8 War Relocation Authority's Staff memos (3 items): "Dealing with Japanese Americans" by John F. Embree and background information, instructing staff on Japanese culture; and a bibliography of new books of interest to educators
1 9 Two publications: The Price Of Prejudice by Leonard Arrington (2 copies); and "Cultural maintenance and ethnic intensification in two Japanese-American Internment Camps" by Barre Toelken
1 10 Topaz High School Yearbook, The Rambling 1943 June

Subjects

    • Subject Terms :
    • Japanese Americans--Utah--Evacuation and relocation, 1942-1945--Archives.
    • Japanese Americans--Utah--Evacuation and relocation, 1942-1945--Periodicals.
    • World War, 1939-1945--Concentration camps--Utah.
    • World War, 1939-1945--Evacuation of civilians--Utah.
    • Corporate Names :
    • Central Utah Relocation Center
    • Topaz High School (Utah)--History
    • United States.--War Relocation Authority
    • Geographical Names :
    • Topaz (Utah)--History.

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