This assignment includes two excerpts from two different documents regarding the Manzanar internment camp which was built to imprison Japanese American citizens during World War II. The first document is an article written for the San Francisco News which details the camp as a place full of plentiful resources, happiness, American patriotism, and excitement. The second document is an excerpt from Jeanne Wakatsuki's famous memoir Farewell to Manzanar. In the excerpt, she describes the deplorable conditions within the camp including food shortages, a lack of housing, overcrowding, sickness, and demoralization. Three sets of student questions are included; one for the news article, one for the memoir excerpt, and one that asks students to compare and contrast the viewpoints.
This assignment works wonderfully to not only illustrate the concept of Japanese internment, but also as a springboard for a discussion on historical bias and how perspective will change the records of events. Both people are writing about the same camp but with wildly different accounts.
I have also used this by distributing only one document each to two different groups of students and then asking them to read the document and record qualities of the camps on large sheets of paper. After they complete, I have them compare and when they realize that their boards look entirely different, the teacher can interject and lead a discussion on the nature of bias in historical texts.