[Hunt, Id. 1943]. pp. Embossed blue cloth, gilt panel on front board. Minimal wear at edges and corners. Contemporary, neat manuscript inscriptions scattered throughout. Near fine. Item #1668
The first yearbook for Hunt High School, commemorating the experiences in 1942 and 1943 of students, teachers, and staff at the newly established school that operated in the Minidoka Japanese internment camp in southern Idaho during World War II. Beginning in 1942, the camp took internees predominantly from Oregon, Washington, and Alaska, and at its peak, when the present volume was published, it held nearly 10,000 prisoners.
The initial pages of this volume contain "Dear Diary" entries, which briefly chronicle the terrible conditions and lack of facilities experienced by internees when they arrived in late summer 1942. The September entry, for example, simply states, "Dust -- blinding, penetrating, suffocating dust! No trees, no grass -- just sagebrush! There are no schools, no recreational facilities, and... no hot water. We start from almost nothing. But before the month is over we enroll for school." In November, "School Begins!... In bare, unfinished barracks we sit at 'seat-attached' dining tables, and try to study with the meager supply of books on hand. With November came the cold, the rain, and the first snow. We struggle through deep treacherous mud to school."
Following these entries, the first principal section of the yearbook contains portraits of faculty administrators and students. The teachers and staff are almost entirely white, except for a small cohort of eighteen internees called "Cadet Teachers." The school seniors receive individual portraits while other students, seventh graders through juniors, are photographed in small groups. The second section documents student participation in the "Work Experience Program." The initial article for this part of the yearbook states, "The population of Hunt is slowly decreasing in number consequently resulting in a lack of full time laborers. This creates a problem which only the high school students can solve for a smoother working community," and lists over fifty types of jobs at which interned students spent up to four hours of their days. The pages following contain numerous photographs depicting Japanese-American students at work in agricultural, industrial, and administrative settings both in and out of the camp -- mimeograph operators, nurses' aides, welders, gas station attendants, construction workers, and much more. The final section shows school activities, clubs, and sports teams, of which there are quite a few.
This copy was owned by internee Hiroto Zakoji of Portland, Oregon, a junior in high school during the 1942-1943 academic year. His position in his junior portrait is identified by a manuscript "Me" and an arrow, and there are numerous inscriptions to him from teachers and other interned students scattered throughout. After he graduated high school in 1943, Zakoji was sent to the Tule Lake camp before volunteering into the U.S. Army for the final few months of World War II. Following the war, Zakoji obtained Master's degrees from the University of Oregon and Haverford, and went on to a long career in the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Two more yearbooks were produced by Hunt High School following this initial effort; all are quite rare. An outstanding document of life for children interned at Minidoka, produced while resident in the camp and extensively illustrated with numerous photographs.