Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    Letters by a Japanese-American Written From an Internment Camp During World War II. Collection of over 100 letters, with accompanying transmittal covers, from a number of Justice Department and U.S. Army camps and relocation centers, spanning the years 1942 to 1943. The bulk of the letters are from Fukuso Ii to his wife, Ritsute, and twin daughters, Nobuko and Kazuko, who were placed at Tule Lake, a WRA Relocation Center in California. Fukuso Ii spent the majority of his time as an internee at Camp Lordsburg in New Mexico, but he also spent time at Fort Missoula, Montana and Santa Fe, New Mexico. Censors have stamped all of the letters.

    Following Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, ordering the relocation and internment of hundreds of thousands of Japanese-Americans living on the west coast. While some voluntarily moved, many families were forcibly removed from their homes and relocated to camps. In some cases, as with the Iis, family members were divided and placed into separate camps.

    Many of the letters are written in Japanese, but those in English do provide poignant insight into the hardships endured at the camps. On September 25, 1942, Fukuso wrote to his wife from Camp Lordsburg (one page, 6" x 14.75"): "...I am just fine as usual, treatment is just wonderful we get $3.00 coupons a month with them we buy at the canteen here such thing as papper [sic] sodawater candies and other thing. The Government give us warm cloth for the winter..."

    Many of the camps had inadequate medical care, and the health and well-being of family members was always a concern. In a letter to his daughter, Kazuko, although he tries to remain positive, we get a glimpse of the trials Fukuso faced. One page, 6" x 14.75", Lordsburg; October 2, 1942, (dictated to Kazucchi Hoshijima) in part:

    "...according to our good doctor we are in the most healthy state in America however it is deplorable that there are many people who are suffering from stomach and intestinal diseases, too much eating and eating between meals are responsible for it he said. I am glad I am in excellent health as I take good care of myself hope you will do the same...well I will be praying that peace may come soon and you folks may come home...and live with the family happily."

    If not physically, the camps must have been psychologically taxing on its occupants, who had suddenly been deemed threats to national security. Many of the envelopes are stamped "Prisoner of War", with the word prisoner scratched out and replaced with "internee". In a letter to his wife, Fukuso expresses his concerns about his situation and the fear of not knowing when he will be able to see his family again. One page, 8" x 10", Lordsburg; undated, in part:

    "My dear wife: How are you since I last heard from you? I hope you are well. I regret that I'm unable to see you and dear little ones for indefinite period under the present circumstances, but please do not be disappointed because as you already know I've never done anything wrong against my conscience in my past. Thus I'm quietly waiting for the day when we will be able to be reunion back at home... Needless to say, but please take good care of yourself also children. I'll write you in details soon in Japanese."

    Accompanying these letters from Fukuso Ii are a few other letters from friends, three birthday cards addressed to the twins, postcards, and two rice paper scrolls written in Japanese. This archive is a tangible relic of the controversial round up of Japanese- Americans during WWII, with heartbreaking insight into their experiences.

    Condition: Many of the letters range from good to fine condition, with minimal wear, spotting, or soiling. Some letters have dampstaining, and most of the letters in envelopes have been opened on the side edge. Overall, a very fine collection.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2018
    18th Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 8
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,350

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    25% on the first $250,000 (minimum $19), plus 20% of any amount between $250,000 and $2,500,000, plus 12% of any amount over $2,500,000 per lot.

    Sold for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Only 38 days left to consign to the 2020 March 4 Rare Books Signature Auction Books Signature Auction - New York !

    Learn about consigning with us

    Heritage has gone above and beyond my expectations in handling all of my transactions in a thoroughly professional manner. I would not hesitate to recommend them to anyone worldwide for the exemplary auction and valuation services they provide.
    Richard H.,
    Corsicana, TX
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search

    Recent auctions

    The Collection of James Kwis Leonard Internet Rare Books Auction
    The Collection of James Kwis Leonard Internet Rare Books Auction
    REALIZED SO FAR $300,884