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Research Services|American Heritage Center

Popular Research Topics: Heart Mountain Relocation Center

Heart Mountain Relocation CenterThe Heart Mountain Relocation Center, named after nearby Heart Mountain Butte, was one of ten internment camps used to incarcerate Japanese Americans excluded from the West Coast during World War II under the provisions of Executive Order 9066 signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Heart Mountain Relocation Center is located in Park County between the towns of Cody and Powell, Wyoming. The land was managed by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which before the war had initiated a major irrigation project in the area and had already constructed canals, buildings, and some infrastructure. The site was adjacent to a railroad spur and depot where internees could be off-loaded and processed.

The center opened on August 11, 1942 when internees began arriving by train from the Pomona, California, Santa Anita, California, and Portland, Oregon assembly centers. By January 1, 1943, the camp reached its maximum population of 10,767 internees. This made the Heart Mountain Relocation Center, at the time, the third largest community in Wyoming. The center closed on November 10, 1945, when the last of the internees were allowed to return to their West Coast homes.

Internees in relocation centers were still subject to the draft, and this generated a backlash in the form of a resistance movement. The Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee was particularly active in this resistance, encouraging internees and other young Japanese-American men to avoid military induction. Seven members of the committee were convicted for conspiracy against the Selective Service Act, and 85 internees were imprisoned for draft law violations. Despite the opposition, 799 young Japanese American men, volunteers and draftees, from the center served in the American military.

Bill Manbo Papers

Bill Manbo Sr. was a Japanese American internee in the Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Wyoming during World War II. During Manbo's internment, he surreptitiously took photographs of everyday life and events in the camp, including children at play, events, and buildings. The collection contains 30 color slides of scenes from the Heart Mountain Relocation Center, dated 1942-1944.

Estelle Ishigo Photographs

The Estelle Ishigo photographs were gathered for use in her book Lone Heart Mountain and many of them were published there. The original drawings and sketches were created by Estelle Ishigo while she was interned with her Japanese-American husband at the Heart Mountain Relocation Camp between Cody and Powell, Wyoming.

Heart Mountain Relocation Center Records

This collection contains the Heart Mountain charter, community minutes, notes on resettlement plans, transcripts of a trial, and documents in Japanese.

John A. Nelson Papers

John A. Nelson was administrative officer and later assistant project director of the Heart Mountain Relocation Center near Cody, Wyoming, from July 1942-June 1943. Collection includes typed transcriptions plus a few handwritten pages of the diary John A. Nelson kept while at Heart Mountain, several speeches about the War Relocation Authority and Japanese internment, internee records, a chronology of evacuation and relocation, records from the War Relocation Authority, pamphlets related to Japanese Americans and their internment.

Milward L. Simpson Papers

Milward L. Simpson was Governor of Wyoming from 1955-1959 and was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1962. He was also a prominent lawyer in Wyoming. Box 146 of his law office files contain material related to Heart Mountain.

Lester C. Hunt Papers

Lester Calloway Hunt was a Wyoming Governor and United States Senator. Hunt was elected governor of Wyoming in 1942 and 1946, and U. S. senator in 1948, a position he held until his death in 1954. Box 1 contains material related to Heart Mountain while he was Governor of Wyoming.

Nels H. Smith Papers

Nels H. Smith was governor of Wyoming from 1939 until 1943. The collection includes correspondence, photographs, notes, reports, bills, case files, invitations, bound materials, and clippings which primarily document Governor Smith's career from 1938 to 1943. Box 3, Folders 4-5 contain material related to Heart Mountain

James H. Knights Papers

Knights spent over thirty years with the United States Bureau of Reclamation as a civil engineer. The collection contains materials related to Knights's involvement in Bureau of Reclamation construction projects. Series 3 contains material related to Heart Mountain.

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