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The Library’s connections to Minidoka

Boise State University has been telling stories of Minidoka since the 1970s. History professor Dr. Robert C. Sims had just arrived at Boise State when he discovered documents related to the World War II Minidoka Relocation Center for Japanese and Japanese Americans. You can watch the PBS special Betrayed: Surviving an American Concentration this month, Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander Heritage Month. 

Betrayed tells the story of a group of American citizens and their mass incarceration by the U.S. government purely on the basis of race. In the compelling voices of survivors, the film explores the unconstitutional suspension of the civil rights of these Japanese Americans during WWII, and the long-lasting impact of incarceration on their community. 

Camille Daw is a Fellow with the Friends of Minidoka. She is also a graduate student at Boise State, reviewing and digitizing the Robert. C. Sims Collection on Minidoka and Japanese Americans in Albertsons Library’s Special Collections and Archives.

Camille’s work increases public access to items from Dr. Sims’ research and contributes to our greater understanding of Minidoka. Camille will soon start an Administrative History of Minidoka National Historic Site for the National Park Service.

The Robert C. Sims Papers contain material relating to his life-long research of Japanese Americans in WW II. This includes government reports and files, personal narratives and letters, interviews, articles and other media resources, books, photographs, and other materials. This collection also contains Sims’ personal files, such as correspondence, speeches and presentations, published articles and reviews, and awards he received throughout his academic and personal career.

For over 40 years, Sims traveled throughout Idaho and the Northwest speaking at conferences and to groups large and small about the Japanese American experience during WW II. He covered topics as varied as medical care, governance, education, art, the response of local communities, the bitter ironies of U.S. military service of internees, loyalty requirements, as well as the businesses, careers, and homes that were left behind during incarceration. He became the historian for all matters relating to Minidoka. Bob’s style of blending personal stories and scholarly presentations brought this unique American story to life and connected it to current events.

Information for this article compiled from PBS, Friends of Minidoka, and Albertsons Library’s Special Collections and Archives