Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

News From the Camps: Journals/Diaries from Japanese Internees
Catrina Pelton
US History
Time Frame:
5 days
Japanese Internment
World War II

Grade Levels:
9, 10, 11, 12

Classroom/Homework Activity to be performed:
  • Journals/diaries written by the students from the viewpoint of Japanese Americans sent to the internment camps during WWII that include multimedia and social media aspects. This is an individual activity that is researched based with technology aspects that uses primary and secondary resources.

  • It is necessary to provide students with a way to experience Japanese internment from a firsthand perspective but to also make it current and relative to their lives.

District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met:

  • Missouri Course Level Expectations: 1A, 2A, 3aA, 3aK, 3aL, 3aW, 3aX, 3bM, 3bN, 6K, 6L, 6M, 6O, 7A, 7C

Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:

Primary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:

Camp Harmony Exhibit. University of Washington. http://www.lib.washington.edu/exhibits/harmony/Exhibit/. (Accessed July 15, 2015).

Full description of activity or assignment.
  • Students will be introduced to the topic of Japanese internment through lecture on WWII and various other classroom activities. Prior to introducing this activity we will review the material to make sure there is a basic understanding of the topic.
  • Students will be introduced to the activity.
  • The students are creating a journal or diary accounting of their time before, during and after internment. They can choose to come from any walk of life, any socio-economic status. They can choose to be from the west coast or Hawaii.
  • Within the journal/diary they need to keep an accounting of their life prior to 1941, where they lived, how old they are, their family background, life post Pearl Harbor, the onset of internment, background on the camp they have been assigned to, the causes for the internment, life in the camp, the end of internment and resettlement. Must include historical accurate information.
  • As part of the journal/diary experience they must also include sound recordings, pictures, drawings, maps, etc. The purpose is to make the experience interactive for the reader. They need to feel invested in the experience.
  • Students need to include information on home, school, family, chores, food, and leisure activities as well as apprehensions, fears, hopes, lives, and desires.
  • Each entry will be at least one page in length typed (1in margins, 1.5 spacing, New Times Roman font, 12 pt font) and consist of two interactive elements.
  • The breakdown of entries per section is as follows:
  • 1 entry pre 1941
  • 1 entry post Pearl Harbor
  • 2 entries at time of internment
  • 2 entries after first 6 months up to the first year
  • 2 entries at the end of internment
  • 2 entries during resettlement
  • Each entry will also be accompanied by an appropriate posting via social media. The students can create a tweet, facebook post, Instagram post, etc that would coincide with the entry they created for that day. Students are encouraged to be creative yet respectful to the topic when creating the posts.

Full explanation of the assessment method and/or scoring guide:
  • Assessment is done periodically during the research and writing process through several methods including individual questioning, peer review, think pair share activities, and teacher observations. See scoring guide below.


Beginning 1

Developing 2

Accomplished 3

Exemplary 4


Journal Recording Details

Journal entry lacks focus and shows no details.

Journal entry focused on task with few descriptive details.

Journal entry is focused with many details.

Journal entry is focused with many details and shows understanding of the personal perspective.



Lacks Organization

Entries are somewhat logical and sequential.

Entries are logical and sequential. 

Entries are very logical and sequential.


Multimedia Aspect

Entries have no multimedia aspect.

Entries show some multimedia aspects.

Entries show multimedia aspects.

Entries show varied utilization of multimedia aspects.


Word Choice and Personal Voice

Limited or incorrect word choice. No sense of personal voice.

Little use of sensory words. Show some personal voice.

Use of sensory words. Shows personal voice.

Good use of sensory words. Show personal voice and shared voice of others.



Uses fragments and run-on sentences.

Mostly clear sentences.

Clear and interesting sentences. 

Very clear and interesting sentences.


Understanding and Use of Materials

Shows little understanding and lacks use of materials.

Shows some understanding and a limited use of materials.

Shows understanding and demonstrates use of materials.  

Shows understanding in depth and uses materials to reinforce entries.


Evidence of before, during and after the war

Entries only demonstrate one period of time.

Entries only demonstrate two periods of time.

Entries have before, during and after.  

Entries clearly demonstrates before, during and after and look towards the future.


Social Media Posts

Entries lack social media posts.

Entries only have a few social media postings but are not appropriate.

Entries are appropriate and several.

Entries are filled with relevant and numerous social media postings.