The American Dream Deferred shares the story of Arkansas's involvement in the Japanese American incarceration during World War II. Using objects from the Butler Center's Rosalie Santine Gould - Mabel Jamison Vogel collection, this exhibition seeks to educate the people of Arkansas and the nation about the experience of those who were forcibly imprisoned in camps throughout the nation, including two in Arkansas. By presenting this troubled chapter of Arkansas and American history, we hope to highlight the triumph of the human spirit shown by many of the people who were held in the camps and the tests of American democracy they represented.
In 2010, Rosalie Santine Gould of McGehee donated her remarkable collection of artwork and other materials from the World War II-era Japanese American internment camp at Rohwer to the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, a department of the Central Arkansas Library System. There were ten such camps around the country, most in the western United States. Two were in Arkansas, at Jerome and Rohwer. The collection includes several hundred paintings and other works of art produced by U.S. citizens of Japanese descent who were interned during World War II. The art had been created in the camp under the tutelage of high school art teacher Mabel "Jamie" Jamison Vogel, who collected and saved her students' art in the years following the war. Vogel became a champion of preserving the camp – which was dismantled after the war and essentially vanished – and its story, and she passed the torch to her good friend Rosalie Gould.
Oil and pastel
16.5 x 12.33 in.
The Rohwer Relocation Center in Desha County was one of two World War II-era incarceration camps built in the state to house Japanese Americans from the West Coast, the other being the Jerome Relocation Center (Chicot and Drew counties). The Rohwer relocation camp cemetery, the only part of the camp that remains, is now a National Historic Landmark. The camp housed, along with the Jerome camp, some 16,000 Japanese Americans from September 18, 1942, to November 30, 1945, and was one of the last of ten such camps nationwide to close. The Japanese American population, of which sixty-four percent were American citizens, had been forcibly removed from the West Coast of America under the doctrine of "military necessity" and incarcerated in ten relocation camps in California and various states west of the Mississippi River. This marked the largest influx of any racial or ethnic group in the state's history.
Aerial View of Rohwer Relocation Center
6 x 8 in.
The research collections and offices are located in the Arkansas Studies Institute (ASI) at 401 President Clinton Ave, located on the Main Library campus in the River Market. The ASI is a partnership between CALS and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, through which the two institutions have made more than 10 million documents and photographs on Arkansas history available for public use.
This material is based upon work assisted by a grant from the Department of the Interior, National Park Service. And opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of the Interior.