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University of Arkansas at Little Rock

Videos Recount Japanese American Internment

The UALR Center for Arkansas History and Culture is releasing a series of video interviews on Japanese American internment in Arkansas during World War II. The first video features an interview with an individual who was forced to move to the camp when he was 13 years old.

Sam Mibu recalls his experience as a teenager forced to leave his home in California and move to the internment camp located in Jerome, Arkansas.

Mibu was among 120,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans who were sent to internment camps under Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066. Signed on Feb. 19, 1942, the order granted the U. S. government authority to relocate both citizens and non-citizens based on the fear that anyone with Japanese ancestry was a potential spy or saboteur.

In all, 10 relocation centers were constructed across the country. Arkansas was the site of two internment camps, the Rohwer Relocation Center in Desha County and the Jerome Relocation Center. The two camps held 16,000 internees from Sept. 18, 1942, until Nov. 30, 1945.

The video interviews are a part of CAHC’s collection, Life Interrupted: The Japanese American Experience in WWII Arkansas. The Life Interrupted project premiered in 2004 as part of a joint effort by UALR’s Master’s in Public History Program and the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. The interviews featured in the collection were filmed during the creation of the documentary, “Time of Fear.”

Each month, CAHC will release a new clip from 35 hours of interview footage, leading up to the opening of an exhibit on Japanese American internment in Arkansas in September 2014. The interviews include accounts from Japanese Americans who were incarcerated at the Jerome and Rohwer internment camps, narratives from Arkansans who lived near or worked at the camps, and perspectives from scholars on this period in history.