Framework

Capturing the world through photography, video and multimedia

June 6, 1943: Japanese family in barracks at Poston War Relocation Center near Parker, Ariz. This photo was published in the June 8, 1943, Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George Watson / Los Angeles Times

June 6, 1943: Panorama of the Poston War Relocation Center near Parker, Ariz. This image was published in the June 8, 1943, Times. The panorama was made from three prints.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George Watson / Los Angeles Times

June 6, 1943: Garden planted between barracks at Poston War Relocation Center.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George Watson / Los Angeles Times

June 6, 1943: Garden planted between barracks at Poston War Relocation Center.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George Watson / Los Angeles Times

June 6, 1943: Garden planted between barracks at Poston.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George Watson / Los Angeles Times

June 6, 1943: Accounting department at Poston War Relocation Center near Parker, Ariz. C.H. Taylor standing, chief of fiscal accounting section, with clerk H.C. Stewart seated to his right.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George Watson / Los Angeles Times

June 6, 1943: Chickens at Poston War Relocation Center near Parker, Ariz. The center included major agricultural operations. This photo was published in the June 8, 1943, Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George Watson / Los Angeles Times

June 6, 1943: Pigs being raised at Poston.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George Watson / Los Angeles Times

June 6, 1943: Cabbage being harvested by Japanese at Poston War Relocation Center near Parker, Ariz. This photo was published in the June 8, 1943, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George Watson / Los Angeles Times

June 6, 1943: Plant nursery at Poston War Relocation Center near Parker, Ariz.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George Watson / Los Angeles Times

June 6, 1943: Nurses aides preparing bandages, swabs, etc., at base hospital of Poston War Relocation Center. This photo was published in the June 11, 1943, Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George Watson / Los Angeles Times

June 6, 1943: Nurse's aide Helen Neishi, on right, with patient at Hospital at Poston War Relocation Center near Parker, Ariz. This photo was published in the June 8, 1943, Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George Watson / Los Angeles Times

June 6, 1943: Japanese women lay bricks during construction of school building at Poston War Relocation Center. This photo was published in the June 9, 1943, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George Watson / Los Angeles Times

June 6, 1943: Construction of schoolhouse at Poston.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George Watson / Los Angeles Times

June 6, 1943: Construction by residents at Poston War Relocation Camp in Arizona.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George Watson / Los Angeles Times

June 6, 1943: Construction of schoolhouse at Poston.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George Watson / Los Angeles Times

June 6, 1943: Japanese family during meal at Poston War Relocation Center.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George Watson / Los Angeles Times

June 6, 1943: Japanese family during meal at Poston.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George Watson / Los Angeles Times

June 6, 1943: Residents at Poston getting a meal.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George Watson / Los Angeles Times

June 6, 1943: Food being prepared at Poston War Relocation Camp. These servings consist of pork, rice with gravy, cucumbers and soy bean cake. This photo was published in the June 10, 1943, Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George Watson / Los Angeles Times

June 6, 1943: Evening meal served cafeteria-style at one of the mess halls at Poston. This photo was published June 8, 1943.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George Watson / Los Angeles Times

June 6, 1943: Junior High School class at Poston War Relocation Center taught by Florence Peterson. This image was published in the June 8, 1942, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George Watson / Los Angeles Times

June 6, 1943: Police Department building at Poston War Relocation Center.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George Watson / Los Angeles Times

June 6, 1943: Swimming pool at Poston War Relocation Center, located near Parker, Ariz,, was built using water from the nearby Colorado River. This photo was published in the June 8, 1943, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George Watson / Los Angeles Times

June 6, 1943: Street at Poston War Relocation Center near Parker, Ariz.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George Watson / Los Angeles Times

Feb. 13, 2008: Former internee Ruth Okimoto visits the burned-out remains of the auditorium at the Poston internment camp. She was among more than 17,000 people of Japanese ancestry held at the camp during World War II.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Bryan Chan / Los Angeles Times

More galleries on Framework

return to gallery

A home for the holiday

A home for the holiday

Story by Angel Jennings; video and photographs by Allen J. Schaben Roger Anderson has a lot to be thankful for this holiday season. After spending more than three...   View Post»

   

Japanese Internment: Poston

Pictures in the News | May 14, 2013

Tuesday's Pictures in the News begins in Boston, where British Prime Minister David Cameron and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick visit the makeshift memorial to the Boston...   View Post»

   

Japanese Internment: Poston

2012 London Olympics | Day 8

Photo highlights from London 2012 Olympic Games Day 8. This gallery will be updated throughout the day.   View Post»

   

Coit Tower murals

San Francisco's Coit Tower murals

The frescoes encapsulate Depression-era California: Scenes depicting idyllic farm and factory life roll out beside those of grueling economic hardship. Urban shoppers browse for...   View Post»

Japanese Internment: Poston

June 6, 1943: Los Angeles Times staff photographer George Watson and staff representative Chester G. Hanson take a tour of the Poston War Relocation Center.

Starting on June 8, 1943, The Times published a five-part series on the Poston camp. Hanson reported in Part 1:

The Japanese Relocation Center at Poston is situated 16 miles south of Parker, Ariz., in the heart of the Colorado River Indian Reservation. The reservation borders the Colorado River for some miles.

The first of the evacuees arrived from various parts of California on May 8, 1942. A little more than a year ago Poston, which got its name from an Arizona pioneer, was nothing but a portion of the reservation land overgrown with mesquite and other desert brush. Today it is a city of 15,916 men, women and children … crude in many aspects but still a city. It has, also, its agricultural phase.

The project was laid out to accommodate 20,000 persons. At its peak it had 18,000. The majority of these Japanese came from Southern California areas–but many came from Central and Northern California points. The land set aside for the project covers about 70,000 acres.

Eight photos by Watson – a full photo page – were published June 8, 1943, accompanying the first installment of the Poston series. Three additional photos were published with the remainder of the series. This photo gallery includes both published and unpublished images all taken by George Watson during his tour.

In 2008, Times staff writer Teresa Watanabe wrote “Celebrating a shared history,” which began:

POSTON, ARIZ.—On an uninviting swatch of arid desert, marked by sagebrush and mesquite trees just east of the California border, the winds of war blew together the fates of two beleaguered peoples.

In a now familiar tale, 120,000 Japanese Americans were removed from the West Coast and relocated to internment camps after Japan’s 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor and the subsequent U.S. entry into World War II. But in a little known piece of that history, the U.S. government sent nearly 20,000 of them to three camps on a Colorado River Indian Tribe reservation at Poston with an explicit plan to use Japanese Americans — most of them Californians skilled in farming — to help develop tribal lands for later Indian use.

Under the plan, the Japanese Americans helped clear lands and build irrigation systems, started farms and built schools from handmade adobe bricks. Their work in developing a reservation that previously had no electricity, running water or modern homes — many families lived in mud huts — laid the foundation for the tribe to jump-start its standard of living and thrive financially, said Michael Tsosie, director of the tribal museum.

Accompanying Watanabe’s 2008 story is this “Back to Poston” photo gallery by Times staff photographer Bryan Chan.

Previous posts in this Japanese World War II Internment series are:

Alien Registration Act of 1940 [updated].

Executive Order 9066: Japanese American internment in World War II. 

Japanese evicted from Terminal Island.

Japanese Internment: Santa Anita Assembly Center

Japanese Internment: Manzanar

2 Comments

  1. May 11, 2012, 8:48 am

    Do these pictures prove the adage “hindsight is 20/20”? The Japanese community has always been an industrial lot. Here we see the results of their labor. They were placed in an Indian reservation. How fortunate was that for the Native Americans living there? And the smiles on many of these “enemies of the state” shows a refreshing demeanor under the most difficult of circumstances.
    Indeed, these folks were very much contributing to the war effort. How? Their relocation to these camps appeased the fears and false insecurity of our officials.

    By: rafaelc@racen.com
  2. May 19, 2012, 12:02 am

    Why was my comment questioning the caption not used? My comment essentially asked if the subjects were Japanese (as the caption states) or Japanese American. Because Japanese American means American.

    By: sturgeon49

Add a comment or a question.

If you are under 13 years of age you may read this message board, but you may not participate. Here are the full legal terms you agree to by using this comment form.

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until they've been approved.

Required

Required, will not be published