Japanese-American Internment Camp Book

Value (2016) | $800 Auction$1,200 Auction

This is my wife's book. She had gotten it from a local library when they had a sale, and she bought it for 15 cents. It's a 1919 book that was used as a library book in Whittier, and entered their library in 1924, and then by 1942, it appears that it was used at the Santa Anita relocation camp, the Japanese internment camp. And it seems to have been a teacher's book who, I believe, taught the fourth grade, and I think it was all teachers wrote things to her saying, "Goodbye, hope we see you again at the next camp," and it talks about going to different camps, perhaps in Arkansas or Wyoming.

The book itself has almost no interest. This is really just a fourth-grade textbook. Your wife paid 15 cents, and that's actually a fair price just for the book itself. But as you say, this particular volume belonged to a woman whose first name we know, but we don't know her last name, but her name was Nagiko, and she was a Japanese-American who was sent to the Santa Anita Assembly Center. As we know, after Pearl Harbor, a few months later, Franklin Roosevelt signed an executive order to order the internment of almost 120,000 Japanese in America, two-thirds of which were American citizens. And so this woman was one of those people sent to Santa Anita. She was a fourth-grade schoolteacher, so while she was there, she taught the fourth grade, and then was later sent, apparently, to one of the camps in Arkansas. So when you brought this book out, it just didn't look like very much at all, but when we opened it up and paged through, I was just really touched by what is inside, because there are inscriptions from her friends, from her colleagues, I think from her students as well. You can see on this first page, we've got a date that places it September 7, 1942. And this is an inscription from a colleague. And then we've got another inscription here. This says September 10, 1942, and it's very difficult to see, but this one actually places it at the Santa Anita Assembly Center. And this is a really touching letter where the woman says, "Although we may not go to the same camp, we'll see each other again, and I'm hoping that we'll arrive at the same camp so that we can continue on with our friendship." And there are lots and lots of inscriptions in here. This is something that collectors would really be excited about. The book itself, again, 15 cents, a fair price, but with these inscriptions, I would place this at auction between $700 to $900.

Oh, wow.

So not bad for 15 cents, I have to say.

That's incredible.

Appraisal Details

Bonhams, LA
Los Angeles, CA
Update (2016)
$800 Auction$1,200 Auction
Appraised value (2005)
$700 Auction$900 Auction
Los Angeles, CA (August 13, 2005)

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