Educators Smithsonian Education
Letters from the Japanese American Internment
Step One
Introduction - Step One - Step Two - Step Three - Step Four - History:Whose Story

We suggest that students plunge into one of the primary sources before you introduce the subject of the internment and the story of Miss Breed and her friends. Hand out printouts of the letter by Margaret Ishino and the Letter Questions. Ask students to try answering the questions—individually or in groups—after carefully reading the letter.

When they have completed the exercise, begin a class discussion to discover more clues. Reveal only that sixteen-year-old Margaret Ishino wrote the letter, though it was signed by both Margaret and her six-year-old sister Florence.

It should be immediately clear to students that Margaret and Florence are at a camp, but what kind of camp? The discussion might bring out details that are inconsistent with the idea that this is, say, a summer camp. Why is their baby brother and the rest of their family with them? Why does Margaret refer to their living quarters as a barrack?

The students might also try to solve these mysteries: How do Margaret and Miss Breed know each other? What is Miss Breed's profession?
Required Materials

Letter by M. Ishino

Letter Questions

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