DELTA — Utah State Historical Society recently partnered with KUED to publish a collection of 220 photos of a World War II internment camp online.
KUED collected some of the photos for a documentary film it produced in 1987 about Topaz Internment Camp, 16 miles northwest of Delta. The partnership was established in time for the construction of the Topaz Museum in Delta. The pictures document the internees' arrival in Utah and their lives in the camp and are available at history.utah.gov.
On May 3, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the U.S. Army issued Civil Exclusion Order No. 34 requiring "all persons of Japanese ancestry" living in Alameda County in California — including San Francisco Bay — to pack what they could carry and meet at the civil control station in San Francisco for more information, according to a transcript available on nps.gov. These internees were first housed in stables at the Tanforan Race Track while construction on Topaz Internment Camp was finished. The camp opened Sept. 11, 1942, although some barracks and the schools were not yet completed. Over the three years the camp was open, 11,212 people were processed through the camp with a peak population of about 8,300, according to the Topaz Museum.
“Utah State History is very excited to make this important collection of images more broadly available, especially in conjunction with the groundbreaking ceremony on Aug. 4, 2012, for the construction of the new Topaz Museum in Delta,” Utah State Historical Society Director Wilson Martin said in a news release. “These photos document the struggle of a group Japanese Americans carrying on with their lives under the most difficult of circumstances.”