Saturday, August 13, 2022

Bauerle uses Library of Congress fellowship to locate ’24 Japanese American WWII internships

As a 2022 Library of Congress Junior Fellow, Megan Bourley ’24 is spending 10 weeks this summer exploring the digitized collection of Japanese internment camp newspapers.

Following Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which led to the forcibly relocated and interned over 120,000 Japanese Americans. Among them were thousands of college students who had been discharged from their respective universities.

In response, many university officials, church leaders, and active citizens formed the National Japanese Student Rehabilitation Council in an effort to return these Japanese American students—most of whom were American citizens—back to college campuses across the country.

“Japanese American WWII captivity is a large part of Asian American history that is not adequately taught in schools,” said Megan Bourley ’24, head of economics. Access to higher education and the power of community support for the resilience of the Japanese American community.

As a 2022 Library of Congress Junior Fellow, Bauerle is spending 10 weeks this summer studying a digitized collection of Japanese internment camp newspapers. These publications allowed Japanese Americans to chronicle their stories and experiences and share news, literary works, editorials, and even comic strips while in the camps. His final project will be an interactive story map about Japanese American higher education while imprisoned in WWII.

“I am interested in higher education opportunities for Japanese Americans during World War II, and how their experiences with persecution and discrimination contribute to access to higher education today,” she said.

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Left: Manzanar Free Press, July 22, 1942;  Left Centre: Topaz Times, March 30, 1943;  Right Center: Poston Chronicle, January 7, 1943;  Right: Heart Mountain Sentinel, January 1, 1943.
The Library of Congress houses a collection of issues from more than 4,600 English and Japanese language newspapers published in 13 camps. From left: Manzanar Free Press, July 22, 1942; Teaopz timesMarch 30, 1943; poston chronicle, January 7, 1943; And Heart Mountain SentinelJanuary 1, 1943.

Bauerle’s work will be a contribution to the Library of Congress’s Connecting Communities Digital Initiative, which seeks to combine library content with technology to connect Americans with a more detailed understanding of the nation’s past and future for Blacks, Indigenous and Colored people. Encourages creators in communities. His work will be available online for the public on July 20.

In addition, Bourley and other Junior Fellows are exposed to a broad spectrum of library work: copyright, protection, reference, accessibility and information technology. Working under the direction of library curators and experts, fellows also explore digital initiatives and increase access to the Library of Congress’ collections and resources.

While doing her research, she encountered another Wesleyan connection. Thomas Bodine of the Wesleyans Class of 1937 served as the temporary national director of the Student Relocation Council and is pictured February 27, 1943. minidoka irrigator Article. He assisted in shifting many students from detention camps to college campuses.

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Bodine said in the article, “All students who intend to continue their education … can rest assured that the Student Rehabilitation Council will continue its work until 1943, and we will help them as long as they are needed.”

Bourley ’24, who hails from Rochester, Minn. and also identifies as an Asian American, is a minor at the College of East Asian Studies. She had a long-standing interest in Asian American history and has already spent a substantial amount of time in Wesleyan’s Special Collections and Archives. There, he browsed student activism documents through the Asian American Student Collective and for a Korean history class.

After graduating from Wesleyan, Bauerley would attend graduate school for a Masters in Library Science.

“The library is such a wonderful public service to research but also to the community,” she said. “Library science also includes data science and building information networks which interests me as well.”

The Junior Fellows Summer Intern Program has been a signature initiative of the Library of Congress since 1991 and is supported by a grant from the Mellon Foundation.

Disclaimer from Megan Bourley: “I am not an official Library of Congress employee and my views do not represent those of the Library of Congress.”

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