Manzanar Collection, MS 026
On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which allowed military commanders to designate "military areas" as "exclusion zones," from which "any or all persons may be excluded." The order affected approximately 120,000 Americans of Japanese descent living on the West Coast to one of ten internment camps — officially known as "relocation centers" — in California, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Wyoming, Colorado, and Arkansas. It is estimated that 62 percent of those interned in the camps were American citizens.
Miri Nagahama, Honey Toda, Betty Salzman, Wilda Johnson, and Lorraine Paulsen were friends who grew up and attended school and joined the Girls Scouts together. When their friends Miri and Honey were interned at Manzanar, Betty, Wilda, and Lorraine corresponded and visited and assisted Nagahama and Toda's efforts to be released.
Miriko Nagahama Murakami
Miriko Nagahama Murakami was born in Los Angeles on April 1, 1922, to Harry and Yuri Nakamura Nagahama. She had a brother, Junichi, and a sister, Kazuko, who were also born in California.
In the spring of 1942, Miriko Nagahama and her family were forced to leave their home in Los Angeles for the Manzanar Relocation Center, run by the War Relocation Authority (WRA).
After she left Manzanar, Nagahama worked at the Centenary Methodist Church of Los Angeles as the pre-school and church school coordinator, a position funded by the Women's Division of the Methodist Church at $150 per month.
On January 8, 1949, she married Rev. Harry Murakami and had five children: Ann Ritsuko, Peggy Miyo, Glenn Nobuo, Alan Michio, and Gail Mikiko. Miri worked as a Special Education Assistant for the Los Angeles Unified School District. Now retired, she and her husband travel extensively.
Honey Mitsuye Toda Wada
Honey Mitsuye Toda Wada was born in Fresno County on January 23, 1921. Her parents were born in Hiroshima, Japan, and emigrated to the United States in 1917. Toda had two brothers, Roy Tetsuo and Akira, who were also born in the San Joaquin Valley.
On April 28, 1942, Honey Toda and her family were forced to leave their home in Glendale, California, for the Manzanar Relocation Center, run by the War Relocation Authority (WRA). While in Manzanar, Toda worked as a secretary to Dr. Genevieve Carter, the center's Superintendent of Education.
Through the efforts of National Student Relocation Council, Honey Toda was allowed to leave the camp after one year. She enrolled at the University of Maryland and graduated with an A.B. in Sociology with honors.
In the spring of 1945, Toda moved to New York City to work at the Bureau of Applied Social Research. There she worked as a research assistant for Dr. C. Wright Mills, professor of sociology at Columbia University, compiling the occupational statistics for Mills' book White Collar, published by Oxford University Press in 1953.
In 1947, Toda married and began working at home, raising three children. In 1976, she became a Japanese bilingual teacher for the Fort Lee Public School System, where she was named teacher of the year in 1989. That same year, Wada was selected as one of 20 teachers and administrators from the New York area to participate in the U.S. Educators program, visiting and observing schools in Japan to better understand the cultural and education background of children coming from Japan to the United States.
In 1991, after 15 years of service, Honey Wada retired from the Fort Lee Public School System. She continues to reside in New Jersey.
California Birth Index, 1905-1995, ancestry.com
California Passenger and Crew Lists, 1893-1957, ancestry.com
Japanese Americans Relocated During World War II, ancestry.com
Wilda N. Johnson
Betty Salzman Liebscher
Miri Nagahama Murakami
Honey M. Toda Wada