The documentation comprising the Japanese-American Relocation Centers Records was primarily collected by Lt. Alexander Leighton and Morris Opler. Leighton, a sociologist in the Naval Reserve, assembled extensive records on life in the Poston Center for use in studying the psychological and social effects of dislocation. Drawing on his research, he wrote The Governing of Men: General Principles and Recommendations Based on Experience at a Japanese Relocation Camp (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1945). Opler, a sociologist for the War Relocation Authority (WRA) Community Analysis Section, collected the less extensive Manzanar Center records. Together the records provide details about life in Poston and Manzanar from 1942 through 1944. Because the collection was assembled by social scientists, the documents also afford an opportunity to examine social science concerns and methodology during the 1940s.
Poston Relocation Center records consist of National Opinion Research Center (NORC) and Poston Opinion Research Center (PORC) reports, autobiographies, observations, observer analyses, personality studies, transcripts of interviews, and other data documenting community government, education, employment, entertainment, food, health, housing, religion, social welfare, and camp organizations in Poston. Also included are WRA memoranda, camp administrative instructions, and administrators’ and evacuees’ notes and observations on various aspects of camp life, including evacuation and relocation. Many of the records analyze the interns’ day-to-day experiences as well as unusual occurrences such as a labor strike at Poston. There are numerous documents of a more personal nature, such as watercolor paintings by camp residents, depicting scenes of camp life and its landscape. In addition there are Japanese-American newspapers, camp newspapers, and pamphlets further describing life at the Poston Relocation Center. There is also an extensive clipping file on Japanese-American relocation and full issues of the Poston Chronicle, an organization chart of Poston, a boundary map and blueprint of Manzanar, a scrapbook, yearbooks, and 137 watercolors, painted by Gene Sogioka.
Statistical analyses and charts accompany many of the series within the collection.