Based in Toronto and New York City

, Nancy Matsumoto is a writer and editor who covers sustainable agriculture, food, sake, arts and culture.

Archival posts from my former blog, Walking and Talking

National History Day Competition Entry Spotlights WWII U.S. Government Prison Camps

A while back, I was interviewed by two fifth graders and one sixth grader from Acaciawood School in Anaheim, California. They were preparing their entry for something called the National History Day competition, and their topic was the illegal forced roundup and imprisonment of West Coast people of Japanese descent during World War II.

I answered a series of questions from the team of girl researchers, Emma Chen, Rachel Kuai and Emily Rangel, and referred them to a Nisei friend and former Military Intelligence Service buddy of my father's in Michigan, Nob Shimokochi. 

Little did I expect that their final product would be this polished, impressive website.* Over half a million kids a year participate in the competition, according to NHD's site, so it was a big deal for Emma, Rachel and Emily to advance first through the county level competition for their category, and then win the state competition to gain the right to compete for the national award in Washington, D.C.

The finals were held earlier this week and I was pleased to hear from the girls that they got 7th place in the junior group division. Congratulations, Emma, Rachel and Emily!

They worked on the project over the course of the school year, first visiting the Nixon Library to learn about primary resources. They visited the Manzanar National Historic Site, and they interviewed former Secretary of Commerce and Transportation Norman Mineta and numerous other people. It's an impressive body of work that they can be proud of forever.

To give you a sense of how good the entries were, go to the NHD home page and click on the "student web sites" box in the left-hand column. Another entry I particularly liked was the winner of the senior individual web site category on the Meiji Restoration.

* [One thing I should note is that for their web site, the Acaciawood girls use term "internment camp," which is widely used and understood, though it is one that many others dislike, and point out is a euphemism. For more on that, see Densho's note on terminology.]

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