University of Oregon Office of the Dean of Personnel Administration. National Japanese American Student Relocation Council records
Scope and Contents note
The collection includes correspondence, newsletters, questionnaires, speeches, minutes of meetings, and other materials relating to the work of the NJASRC and particularly University of Oregon Japanese American students.
The records are arranged chronologically and have been kept in their original order. Thus, correspondence, meeting minutes, questionnaires, newsletters and other documents are all interfiled.
For preservation reasons, the entire collection was photocopied and a second set of documents is included. These copies are stored in box two.
- Creation: 1942-1946
Conditions Governing Access note
Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Permanent University Archive public records are available for research, and are subject to state, and in some cases federal freedom of information laws. In compliance with applicable state and federal laws, including, but not limited to, FERPA and HIPAA, specific records that are legally protected, sensitive, private, or confidential are exempt (not subject to disclosure) and closed to protect individual privacy. Access to paper records will be granted after a professional review of the records occurs based on regulations in state and federal laws. Contact Special Collections and University Archives well in advance in order to access these records.
Conditions Governing Use note
Property rights reside with Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish collection materials must be submitted to Special Collections and University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.
In the winter of 1942 President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order No. 9066 authorizing the evacuation of Japanese Americans living on the West Coast into internment camps. In response, college administrators, religious leaders, and some Japanese American community leaders banded together to form a student relocation council, which was funded by the national YMCA-YWCA and organized in Berkeley, California, in March 1942. This was the beginning of a concerted effort to relocate Japanese American students enrolled in West Coast colleges and universities to other colleges and universities in the Midwest and East so that they could continue their studies and avoid internment.
The council was formalized into the National Japanese American Student Relocation Council in Chicago on May 29, 1942. Regional offices were set up in Philadelphia, Seattle, Portland, Berkeley, and Los Angeles; less than a year later, the offices were consolidated in Philadelphia. As a non-government organization, the NJASRC was staffed largely by volunteers and funded by private donations, churches, and colleges and universities. The Quaker American Friends Service Committee managed the organization.
With the help of college administrators, such as Karl Onthank at the University of Oregon, students were able to navigate huge bureaucratic obstacles in order to leave internment camps and enroll in college. In addition to obtaining student clearances from the War Relocation Authority and the FBI, college administrators managed scholarship funds; helped students choose and apply to schools; made sure that the Japanese American students would be socially accepted at the selected college and in the surrounding community; and, monitored students’ progress and well-being. From 1942 through 1945, approximately 5,522 Japanese American students were enrolled in over 529 colleges and universities in the Midwest and on the East Coast.
The NJASRC appears to have had two major goals. The first was to help Japanese American students attend college during the war; and the second was to counter anti-Japanese sentiment among Americans by producing a group of model citizens who would then dispel the negative wartime image of Japanese Americans.
At the University of Oregon, Karl Onthank, then Dean of Personnel Administration, initiated and managed the effort to relocate UO Japanese American students. Onthank was an alumnus of the University of Oregon (1913) who joined the University of Oregon staff in 1916 as Executive Secretary to President Prince Lucien Campbell. In 1930 Onthank was named Dean of Personnel Administration for the university; in this position he managed the effort to relocate University of Oregon Japanese American students. In 1948 he became Associate Dean of Students in charge of job placement, a position he held until his retirement in 1957.
In the fall of 1941, 22 Japanese American students (and one Japanese student) were enrolled, though by the spring of 1942, several of these students had withdrawn. Of those 22 Japanese American students, 13 were from Portland, 2 from Hood River, 1 from Hillsboro, 1 from Troutdale, 1 from Astoria, 1 from Cornelius, 1 from Baker, and 2 were from Sacramento, California.
Onthank described the Japanese American students at the University of Oregon as “keen, alert young men and women headed toward professional or important business activities.” The records demonstrate that he worked diligently to help these students.
The researcher should note that the bulk of the National Japanese Student Relocation Council Records produced by the NJSRC itself are housed at the Hoover Institution Library and Archives at Stanford University. A preliminary finding aid is available at: http://www.oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/tf2m3n98nk
Nisei Student Relocation Commemorative Fund, Inc. http://www.nsrcfund.org/
Ito, Leslie A. “Japanese American Women and the Student Relocation Movement, 1942-1945,” Frontiers, 2000.
Karl Onthank to Genevieve Turnipseed and others, April 30, 1942, University of Oregon. Dean of Personnel. National Japanese American Student Relocation Records, UA 9, Box 1, folder 5.
Karl Onthank to Marian Reith, National Student Secretary YWCA, March 17, 1942. University of Oregon. Dean of Personnel Administration. National Japanese American Student Relocation Records, UA 9, Box 1, folder 1.
1 linear feet (2 containers) : 2 manuscript boxes
Language of Materials
The National Japanese American Student Relocation Council was created by university administrators as a means of relocating Japanese American college students to other universities and colleges away from the West coast during World War II, and to prevent these students from being interned in government-run internment camps. At the University of Oregon, Karl Onthank, Dean of Personnel Administration, represented the University in relocating UO Japanese American students. The collection includes correspondence, newsletters, speeches, minutes of meetings, and ephemera.
Immediate Source of Acquisition note
Transferred from Manuscripts unit in 2007.
Existence and Location of Copies note
Collection is available online in the University of Oregon Libraries' Digital Collections, https://oregondigital.org/sets/jasr
Existence and Location of Copies
Selected items are available online in the National Japanese American Student Relocation Council records, 1942-1946 in Oregon Digital.
Processing Information note
Collection processed by Zach Wegner.
This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.
- University of Oregon (Organization)
- National Japanese American Student Relocation Council (Organization)
- Onthank, Karl William, 1890-1968 (Person)
- Guide to the University of Oregon. Office of the Dean of Personnel Administration. National Japanese American Student Relocation Council Records
- Complete Description
- Finding aid prepared by Linda J. Long and Zach Wegner
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English.