Friday, October 21, 2005

The Camp at Casa Solana

It's a frequent reference question: what can we find about the World War II relocation camp which held Japanese-American civilians in Santa Fe? It was in what is now the residential neighborhood behind the Solana Center, off West Alameda Street. In 1999 a historical marker was placed in Frank Ortiz Park overlooking the site.
       Though we have a lot of resources generally about the evacuation and relocation of the Japanese-Americans, we have very few print resources about the Santa Fe camp in particular: a chapter in Essays in 20th Century New Mexico History; a brief tunnel-vision account of its conversion from an old CCC camp in Michael E. Welsh's U. S. Army Corps of Engineers Albuquerque District, 1935-1985; a depressing clipping file including typewritten articles, news stories dating from several decades, material printed off the web. One of the recent articles shows an aerial view of the camp overlaid with the modern street grid.
       Available online resources include a website which pulls together information, photos, writing, and paintings, Many Mountains Surrounding (from the internees' name for Santa Fe); a page at the Japanese American National Museum about artist George Hoshida, which includes some of his drawings from the Santa Fe camp; an online book at the National Park Service site, Confinement and Ethnicity: An Overview of World War II Japanese American Relocation Sites, that includes the Department of Justice Internment Camp in Santa Fe; a recent story from the New Mexican.
       The Department of Justice camp in Santa Fe held only men, mostly middle-aged. Much more has been written about the camps scattered around the west which held families--Manzanar, Heart Mountain, Topaz, Amache--memoirs, childrens books, novels. A recent example is Julie Otsuka's 2002 novel, When the Emperor Was Divine.

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