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[Detail] Warehouse, Manzanar Relocation Center

Newspapers and Racial Representations During World War II

In the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, Congress recognized the evacuation of Japanese Americans during World War II as a "grave injustice…motivated largely by racial prejudice, wartime hysteria, and a failure of political leadership." Readers of Born Free and Equal can better appreciate the significance of the evacuation by examining evidence of this wartime hysteria and racial prejudice for themselves.

Newspapers played a large role in spreading hysteria and racial prejudice through stories that created suspicion against Japanese-Americans. Use online search engines or the resources of a local library or historical society to access newspapers published during World War II. Examine how U.S. newspapers represented Japanese and Japanese Americans in this era.

  • What kinds of information did newspapers report about Japanese Americans after the attack on Pearl Harbor?
  • How did newspapers represent the Japanese in its coverage of the war?
  • How were Japanese and Japanese Americans represented in newspaper photographs and drawings?
  • How did newspapers represent other opponents of World War II such as the Germans and Italians?
  • How did they represent other minority groups such as Chinese Americans or African Americans?
  • What does your research into contemporary newspaper depictions of Japanese Americans contribute to your appreciation of Adams's photographs?
  • What does your research contribute to your appreciation of the evacuation of Japanese Americans?