|Location: Chicot and Drew Counties, Arkansas|
Environmental Conditions: Jerome War Relocation Center is located 12 miles from the Mississippi River at an elevation of 130 feet. The area was once covered with forests, but is now primarily agricultural land. The Big and Crooked Bayous flow from north to south in the central and eastern part of the former relocation center.
Opened: October 6, 1942
Closed: June 1944
Max. Population: 8,497 (November 1942)
Demographics: Most people interned at Jerome War Relocation Center came from Los Angeles, Fresno, and Sacramento counties in California. Most came to Jerome via the Santa Anita and Fresno assembly centers. 811 people came from Hawaii.
The Jerome War Relocation Camp was located in Southeast Arkansas in Chicot and Drew Counties. The Jerome site consisted of tax-delinquent lands situated in the marshy delta of the Mississippi River's flood plain that had been purchased in the 1930s by the Farm Security Administration.
The Jerome center was divided into 50 housing blocks surrounded by a barbed wire fence, a patrol road, and seven watchtowers. The only entrances were from the main highway on the west and on the back of the camp to the east. The camp was officially declared open, although it was not completely finished, in September 1942. It was the last center to open and the first to close, and was only in operation for 634 days—the fewest number of days of any of the relocation camps.
The constant movement of camp populations makes completely accurate statistics difficult. As of January 1943, the camp had a population of 7,932 people. Most had been farmers before the war. Fourteen percent were over the age of sixty, and there were 2,483 school age children in the camp, thirty-one percent of the total population. Thirty-nine percent of the residents were under the age of nineteen. Sixty-six percent were American citizens, and the remainder were aliens.
The camp was closed in June 1944 and turned into a German Prisoner of War Camp.Upon closing, camp residents were sent to other camps including Heart Mountain, Gila River, Granada, and Rohwer.
Col. Scobey, executive to the Assistant Secretary of War, visited Jerome on March 4, 1943 to persuade the internees to register, volunteer for the combat team, and fill out the loyalty questionnaire. He gave a speech, stating that the War Department was in effect presenting the Combat Team as a test of loyalty, and if response was poor, the public would say that the Nesei were not loyal Amercian citizens.
Only 31 people out of an eligible 1,579 volunteered for the combat team. Thirty percent of residents were classed disloyal. Paul A. Taylor highly praised the 31 volunteers, saying they deserved respect and had demonstrated their loyalty. An article by Galen M. Fisher was written in the Denson Tribune in an attempt to get more people to volunteer. It was titled "What a Person Outside is Thinking". It said that refusal to cooperate would poison the public mind and prove the disloyalty of the detainees. On the other hand, he stated that cooperation would hamstring the Fair Play committee (a draft resistors organization) and be in tune with the philosophy of the "ideal America".
|Notable Jerome internees
* Violet Kazue de Cristoforo (1917–2007), a Japanese American poet. Also interned at Tule Lake
* Takayo Fischer (born 1932), an American stage, film and TV actress. Also interned at Rohwer
* Lawson Fusao Inada (born 1938), an American poet. Also interned at Granada
* Yuri Kochiyama (born 1921), a Japanese American human rights activist
* George Nakano (born 1935), a former California State Assemblyman
* Joe M. Nishimoto (1919–1944), a United States Army soldier and a recipient of the Medal of Honor
Grace KATO Izumi
Kazuko Tsubouchi Fujishima
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This page was last modified on March 23, 2014