Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Home Was a Horse Stall
Diane Haywood
US History
Time Frame:
2 class periods
Japanese Internment

Grade Levels:
9, 10, 11, 12

Classroom/Homework Activity to be performed:
  • This assignment is organized to combine individual, co operative and cross curricular activities, using an article describing the experiences of one family, four primary sources (Executive Order, Civil Exclusion Order, a public poster, and two maps).  Students will be researching and analyzing the internment of Japanese Americans on the west coast of the US during WWII.  Sections of this lesson may stand alone if less time is available.

  • Give students an opportunity to understand US actions toward Japanese civilians on the home front during WWII.  Explore US Government treatment of long term residents during a time of high stress.  Explore why a government sets apart some residents during difficult events in history.  Discuss US law and the Constitution in times of national security stress.

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

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.2 Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem.

Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:
  • Time line of Japanese American internment-from Truman Library 


Primary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:
  • FDR Executive Order 9066-attached-Executive Order 9066.docx
  • Map of camps established in the US for Japanese confinement-attached at end of lesson
  • Photo of poster on telephone pole-Instructions to Japanese Americans- and text of same poster-attached at end of lesson, text of pole poster for close reading-attached text of pole doc.docx
  • Civilian Exclusion Order # 27-attached-exclusion order.docx

Maps of Relocation Camps for Japanese Americans during WWII



Full description of activity or assignment.
  • Class period 1-Teacher will present time line of US government actions affecting Japanese Americans to class.  Time line may be shortened as needed. Time line URL above.
  • Students will close read and notate article for use in final activity (will also be given credit), “Home Was a Horse Stall”-link above.
  • In small groups, students will read and analyze primary sources (divide as needed-use document anaylsis sheets-attached Document Analysis                         Name.docx, map worksheet.pdf and then jigsaw their information to entire class.
  • Class period 2-Class discussion led by teacher. Discussion will focus on civil liberty abuses and encourage students to reference the US Constitution detailing ways that Japanese internment violated civil rights of those placed in camps. Teacher will also link US actions against the Japanese during WWII to other similar actions they have studied in world and American history when nations have set apart citizens for “special” treatment.

            Examples: US-Removal of Native Americans, treatment of Irish, Lincoln’s

           limit on habeus corpus, treatment of African Americans post Civil War and Jim Crow,

           treatment of German Americans WWI, the Patriot Act.

            World- Jews in Germany during WWII, China and Cambodia during “re education” camps

            under communism, Serbian attacks on Bosnian Muslims, attacks on Turkish Christians

  • Students will organize and write a series of dairy entries as if they were a Japanese American interned in a camp.  For full credit, entries must cover initial reaction to order, reporting day, intermediate holding in California and life in camp.  Details from reading are required, and point of view reaction to civil liberty loss and US Constitution connections must be included.  OR   Students will author an essay comparing US treatment of Japanese to any of the other situations discussed and link some examples of violations to the US Constitution that incarceration of the Japanese perhaps should have been considered by a US Government intent on protecting citizens’ civil liberties. This assignment will need to be completed outside class unless extra time is available.

Full explanation of the assessment method and/or scoring guide:
  • Credit for notations on close reading of articles.-20 points
  • Credit for participation in jigsaw and research/discussion time.-10 points
  • Credit for creation of essay/diary-special attention to use of details from article and documents.

            SCORING GUIDE FOR DIARY.docx -55 points