Skip to main content

Japanese-American History in St. Louis

Overview of primary and secondary sources available at University Archives and online, focused on the WWII experience of Japanese-Americans, especially in the St. Louis region.

Internment and the University

On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 that called for the removal of Americans of Japanese heritage to relocation centers across the United States. These centers were commonly referred to as internment camps. Over the next three years, approximately 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry were interned.

During those years, an effort was made to relocate Japanese American college students out of internment campus and to universities and colleges away from the West coast.

George Throop, then Chancellor of Washington University, agreed to accept the transfer of a number students of Japanese ancestry and made this progressive statement:

"The attitude of the University is that these students, if American citizens, have exactly the same rights as other students who desire to register in the University..."

Approximately thirty Japanese American students transferred to Washington University and faced no restrictions academically nor in extracurricular activities, campus or dormitory life.

Documenting the University's Role

Below is a selection of digitized items from the Records of WU Chancellor Throop pertaining to the transfer of students during the Japanese internment. 

Unless otherwise noted, these works are the copyright of the original creator. They are digitally reproduced for educational use only, per U.S. copyright law (Title 17, Chapter 1 § 108 U.S. Code)


Ted Ono, Yo Matsumato, Richard (Dick) Henmi at Washington University, 1942.

3 students

(Image: State Historical Society of Missouri Research Center - St. Louis.)

Additional primary sources

WU Yearbooks

Architecture Club 1943

 Hatchet yearbooks are available to researchers at University Archives.  Select pages are available in digital format..

Materials at other archives

For more information, please contact the organization listed:

Related Information Online

Other Useful Guides

Secondary Sources

Available from Olin Library:

In 2009, all incoming first year WUSTL students read When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka and participated in discussion groups and other programs.  Some of the information on this page was originally from the Freshman Reading Program companion website.