Letters from Japanese internment camps found in Denver

10:26 PM, Nov 21, 2012   |    comments
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There were ten camps in the United States in 1942. The camps were created in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor to hold Japanese-American citizens.

Two years ago, Alissa Williams and her husband Mitch purchased an old building at the corner of 27th Avenue and Larimer Street in Denver.

While renovating the downstairs portion of the building this week, they discovered a box full of old documents from 1942 and 1943.

The documents included letters and post cards from Japanese-Americans who lived in the internment camps.

They were sent to the building because it used to house an old pharmacy, operated by a Japanese-American man.
"A lot of [the letters] are 'thank goodness we found you'. 'I was so happy to get your address from my friend'. Just overly polite and nice letters," Williams said.

Most of the letters are written in Japanese, so they're difficult for Williams to read since she doesn't understand the language. The ones that are written in English tell stories of starving, sick people.

"I can't imagine being in [their] shoes and being shipped off to the desert and not knowing where I'm going to end up," Williams said.

Some people asked the pharmacy for medical goods and random items.

"A lot of hair dye, sake, condoms," Williams said.

The condoms are significant, Williams explained, because Historians are still trying to figure out how people living in the camps dealt with birth control.

"Apparently the fact that they were ordering condoms is closing a gap in history already, which is amazing," she said.

Williams and her husband plan on meeting with a historian next week to figure out what they're going to do with the documents.

(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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