BRETHREN HISTORICAL LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES
Title: Japanese-American Relocation
HistoryAAfter the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, pressure from the American Legion, the Hearst press, farmer=s groups, and military and public officials led to the exclusion of >any and all persons of Japanese ancestry from what military officials designated as >military areas covering much of the US West Coast. Church groups and individuals protested unsuccessfully. From March to November, 110,000 persons of Japanese ancestry were compelled, sometimes on short notice and under hardship, to leave their homes for internment in ten government relocation centers.
When the evacuation appeared imminent, Ralph E. and Mary Blocker Smeltzer attempted to involve the Church of the Brethren. After they had taught at the Manzanar relocation center for four months, they arranged for Thomas Temple to take thirteen young men, all US citizens, to Bethany Biblical Seminary in Chicago in January 1943. The men secured jobs and homes so quickly that the Brethren Service Committee decided to start a hostel at Bethany. Mary Smeltzer arrived in March with three young people. Charles and Bertha Kimmel helped in the hostel when it was moved to a new location near the shore of Lake Michigan. Ralph Smeltzer also helped set up the Chicago United Ministry to Evacuees under the Church Federation of Chicago. Because over 1,000 persons had been resettled in the area the hostel was closed in April of 1944.
A hostel was opened in Brooklyn, New York, by the Smeltzers on May 10, 1944, but only after much controversy in New York newspapers. During the summer, Myrtle Barley and Florence Seese assisted. Cecile Burke directed the hostel from September 1944 until it closed in 1946. For a time Dean Frantz and J. Benton Rhoades worked with resettlers in the Chicago area [Brethren Encyclopedia, pages 24-25].
Two theses in the BHLA collection provide more information about internment of Japanese Americans. One is titled AThe Trends Toward and Causes of the Evacuation of American Citizens of Japanese Ancestry and the History and Functions of the Brethren Hostel@ by Richard Burger (Bethany Biblical Seminary, 1944). The other is titled AThe Response of the Historic Peace Churches to the Internment of the Japanese Americans During World War II@ by Charles R. Lord (Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminaries, 1981).
Description of the Records: These records consist of materials collected by Ralph and Mary Smeltzer in their work with Japanese Americans. Included are materials from the days when they taught at the Manzanar relocation center, correspondence concerning the establishment and operation of the hostels in Chicago and New York, correspondence with evacuee, materials related to the staff provided by the Brethren Service Committee to the United Ministry to Resettlers of the Church Federation of Chicago, guest books maintained at the hostels, and a scrapbook. All of the materials date from 1942-1946 except for one file (Box 6, File 10) which documents the 20th anniversary solicitation of hostelers for the Bethany Building Fund (1963).
Provenance: While not all of these files were created under the auspice of the Brethren Service Committee, they all became the property of the Brethren Service Committee when the Smeltzers began working with the committee. The date is not know as to when the files were transferred to the archives.
Separations: One photograph of the Dan West family (about 1942) was removed and placed in the Dan West family portrait file. Two posters were removed at an earlier date and placed in the cabinet with oversized materials.
Processor: Margaret Reinacher and Kenneth M. Shaffer, Jr.
Box 1 File 1- Army Orders - Clippings
2- Correspondence on Japanese Problems
3- Church of the Brethren - Gifts at Christmastime
4- Manzanar Office Work
5- Manzanar Information Publications
6- Manzanar Organizations, Notes, Programs, etc.
7- Brethren Correspondence
8- BSC Correspondence
9- Bethany Relocation Hostel
Box 2 File 1-Evacuee Correspondence 3-7-42 to 9-1-44
2- General Correspondence 3-7-43 to 9-1-44
3- General Correspondence Cont.
4- Circulated Agency Letters
5- Appreciation Letters
6- Other Hostels
7- Temples Correspondence
Box 3 File 1- Chicago Church Federation & United Ministry to Resettlers
2- New York W.R.A. Correspondence
3- Washington, D.C. W.R.A. Correspondence
4- Brooklyn Church Federation
5- American Baptist Home Mission Society
6- New York Church Committee for Japanese-Americans
7- F.O.R. on Japanese
8- Japanese-American Committee for Democracy
9- Pacific Coast Committee on American Principles & Fair Play
10- Committee on Resettlement
11- J. A .C. L.
12- Protestant Commission
14- Nisei Draft Correspondence
15- Material From Other Cities
16- Buddhist Correspondence
17- Circulated Letters
18- Student Relocation Council
19- Tule Lake, Poston, Gila, Granada, Jerome
23- Heart Mountain
24- A.F.S.C. o
Box 4 File 1- Minidoka
4- Tule Lake
6- Relocation Suggestions
7- Shoenlank-Kirschner Correspondence
8- Hostel Personnel Correspondence
9- Hostel Mimeographed and Printed Material
10- Financial Statements, Chicago Hostel
11- Hostel Statistical Analysis
12- Contacts Made for New York Hostel
13- Strategy for New York Hostel
14- New York Hostel Budget
15- Contact in Sheriden Road Hostel
16- Alpha Chi Rho Fraternity Correspondence
17- Evacuee and Private Research on Relocation
18- Clippings on Relocation
19- Asia and Americas Book
Box 5 File 1- Chicago W.R.A.
2- Resettlement Information
3- Unfilled Out-of Town Jobs
4- W.R.A. Procedures, Regulations and Information
5- W.R.A. Forms
6- W.R.A. Legal Aspects
7- W.R.A. History, Literature, and Bibliographies
8- W.R.A. History, Literature and Bibliographies cont.
Box 6 File 1- Brethren Ministry to Resettlers
2- New York Hostel Correspondence
3- New York Hostel Correspondence Cont.
4- Benton Rhoades Correspondence
5- Togasaki Correspondence
6- Movie Script
7- Asaka weekly report, 5-44 to 5-45
8- Brethren Service Reports & Financial Reports
9- Contribution from former Hostelers
10- Hostel 20th Anniversary Solicitation for Bethany Building Fund 1963
Box 7 Chicago Guest Book (Sept >43 - April 44)
Chicago Guest Book (March 43 - Sept >43)
N.Y. Record of Arrivals & Departures (May >44 - April 46)
N.Y. Guest Book (May 44 - March >46)
Box 8 N.Y. Hostel Scrapbook