Hunt Memoir


In the year of 1944, a yearbook from Hunt, Idaho was created. This yearbook, which was created by Mitsuye Yamada, depicts the achievements, activities, and the educational system that was sustained in the Japanese internment camp. Created during World War II, the yearbook purposely conveys the academic and athletic achievements of the students in the Japanese-American internment camp. The artifact starts off with introducing its contents progressing to the students’ profile pictures and their academic and athletic achievements. The yearbook also recognizes the teachers, administrators, and higher authorities who ran the “school,” and who all happened to be whites. All of the students in the pictures participating in sports activities, such as baseball, and academic challenges, such as debate or chess clubs, are happy and smiling. The yearbook conveys itself with only happy content, memories that will show the world of the concentration camp’s “effective” education methods.

hunt yearbook

The japanese were basically living in the United State’s empire; 10 detention camps were set up west of the Mississippi, resulting in the Hunt concentration camp. These detention camps were created basically so white superiors can regulate and “guide” the Japanese (ethnic minorities’) people’s lives. This is the opposite of what the 1944 Hunt, Idaho yearbook shows. Probably the most unique characteristic of the yearbook is that everyone, even the “detained” Japanese-American students look happy and content with their lives, despite being in a labeled “concentration camp.” Giving us this new perspective allows us, the audience, to ponder the real meaning of what a concentration camp really was, why all the kids looked so happy, and if Yamada purposely excluded anything or emphasized any aspect of the yearbook to show a different side of the camp/what life was like for a Japanese-American at the time.

The yearbook states the principal’s message, which says, “The American democratic tradition is based upon ideals and traits displayed by pioneers. The traditions of some other countries seem to be based on old established customs which tend to prevent improvements when needed and to stifle initiative and freedom of enterprise.” Also, in the foreword of the Hunt Memoir, it states, “In the succeeding pages of this volume, we wish to depict through the medium of a comprehensive pictorial review, the application of that educational system which will prepare our nation’s youth…” These words support the idea of racial assimilation; the Americans degraded the Japanese culture’s ways/values and were attempting to change them into the American ways. With all that said, what has Yamada purposely included and excluded in the yearbook? Also, what does the Hunt Memoir reflect about the life of Japanese-Americans both in the camps and outside?

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