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Virginia B. Lowers Collection

Identifier: SPC-2016-004

Scope and Content

The Virginia B. Lowers Collection (1945-1946) contains three letters written to Virginia Lowers during World War II. The letters are from Thomas A. Reeves, W.W. [Esherich] and Masaru Teshiba.

The collection has been integrated into the Japanese American History Collection Series 5.


  • 1945-1946



There are no access restrictions on this collection.

Publication Rights

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Director of Archives and Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical materials and not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

Tule Lake History

On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 which gave the military the authority to exclude any citizen who posed a threat to national security. As a result, approximately 120,000 Japanese-Americans living on the West Coast were removed and incarcerated in concentration camps. The Tule Lake Incarceration Center was the largest of the ten concentration camps with approximately 18,000 internees, and was located close to the California-Oregon border near the town of Newell, California and 10 miles south of the town of Tulelake. On February 8, 1943, the War Department and War Relocation Authority (WRA) distributed a questionnaire in order to assess the loyalty of those housed in concentration camps. The questionnaire was difficult and complex, which led to uncertainty and confusion. Failure to complete the questionnaire, as well as questions answered in an unsatisfactory manner caused a great number of incarcerees to be deemed “disloyal” and sent to Tule Lake Segregation Center- the designated location “disloyal” incarcerees.

On July 1, 1944 Public Law 405 also known as the Denaturalization Act was signed into law by President Roosevelt, allowing any citizen to renounce their United States citizenship. This, along with the announcement in December 1944 that incarceration camps would close within a year, left incarcerees faced with many difficult decisions about their future. Many incarcerees imprisoned at Tule Lake felt that renunciation would be their best option due to a variety of reasons. Some believed that renunciation would allow them to remain in Tule Lake until the war was over, while others believed that if they didn’t renounce they would be separated from their families- especially if Issei were deported. Others felt pressure from pro-Japanese groups, or renounced in anger over how they were treated by the United States government. This was problematic because once an incarceree renounced, it became difficult to reverse that decision.

While visiting Tule Lake in July 1945, Wayne M. Collins, an attorney based out of San Francisco, California was alerted to the renunciants’ predicament in regards to the Denaturalization Act. Believing the Denaturalization Act to be unconstitutional, Collins assisted renunciants by preparing sample letters to the U.S. attorney general asking for their United States citizenship to be reinstated, citing coercion and duress as a main factor. In September 1945, renunciants formed the Tule Lake Defense Committee and hired Collins as their attorney. On November 13, 1945, Collins was able to stop a mass deportation two days before it was set to begin by filing for habeas corpus and obtaining a court order, which forbade deportation. As a result, starting in December 1945, the Department of Justice agreed to hearings for those who did not want to be deported and were also willing to provide an explanation why. Collins worked for over fourteen years to rescind deportation, void renunciation, and reinstate U.S. citizenship for thousands of Japanese-Americans.

Fort Lincoln Internment Camp History

Located south of Bismarck, North Dakota, Fort Lincoln Internment Camp initially held German and Italian seamen who were captured in U.S. waters in 1939. After the outbreak of World War II, Fort Lincoln was expanded so it could hold both Japanese and German internees, but shortly after their arrival in 1942, the Japanese-American internees were transferred to other camps. Fort Lincoln would remain solely a German occupied camp until February 1945, when approximately 650 “recalcitrant” Japanese Americans- many of whom had renounced their American citizenship, were transferred from the War Relocation Authority (WRA) camp in Tule Lake, California, and internment camps in Santa Fe, New Mexico to Fort Lincoln. Later that year, over half of the internees at Fort Lincoln were deported to Japan.


1 box

Language of Materials



This collection contains one box of three letters addressed to Virginia B. Lowers, a former high school teacher at University High School in Los Angeles, California. The letter from Masaru Teshiba contains information regarding his experiences as an incarceree mostly while at Tule Lake Segregation Center, the letter from Thomas A. Reeves details his combat experiences, and the letter from W.W. [Escherich] describes events during his trips to Maui, Tientsin China, and Okinawa. All of the items in this collection are available online. This collection has been integrated into the Japanese American History Collection.

Acquisition Information

Library acquisition

Related Material

This collection is part of the California State University Japanese American Digitization Project. Other collections about the history of Japanese Americans are found in the digital repository: CSU Japanese American Digitization Project

Inventory of the Virginia B. Lowers Collection
Finding aid prepared by Karen Clemons
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the California State University Dominguez Hills, Gerth Archives and Special Collections Repository

University Library South -5039 (Fifth Floor)
1000 E. Victoria St.
Carson CA 90747