California's Japanese Americans
The impact of internment on California's Japanese American population was obviously enormous and it went well beyond the three to four years spent in the assembly centers and relocation camps. Based on available census data from 1930, 1940, and from1950, after the war and after the camps were closed, you can begin to see the broader impact of the internment experience in terms of the dramatic shift in population.

In order to assess the impact of the internment on California’s Japanese population you will need to go back to the decade of the 1930s and and compare and contrast the changes in both California's Japanese American population and changes in the population of the state as a whole.

California's Japanese American Population 1930 - 1950 maps give you access to census data from three decades and the ability to compare a variety of census variables side-by-side. Use the first one to create a data map showing the ratio of the state's 1940 population to that in 1930 and show the table of the related data. Looking at the table and sorting on the 1940 Population / 1930 Population column you can see that all but three of the state's counties grew over the decade with growth rates ranging from 1% in San Benito County to 107% in Shasta County.

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To Start You Thinking

1) Describe any geographic patterns you see to changes in the state's population in the decade of the 1930s.

2) Use the other map and examine the state's population change over the next decade - during the years of World War II. Compare and contrast the state's pattern of population change over the decades 1930 - 1940 and 1940 - 1950.

3) Complete a similar analysis of California's Japanese population from 1930 to 1950. Which California counties had no Japanese American population in 1930?

4) Which counties had the most significant growth in Japanese American population in the decade of the 1930s? (This is a trick question. You will need to examine not only the finished map, but individual counties as well. For example, according to the map, in Lake County, north and east of the San Francisco area, it looks like the increase has been substantial. Click on the county, though, and examine the actual Japanese American populations in 1930 and 1940.)

5) Generally speaking, how does the change in the Japanese American population compare with the change in the population of the state as a whole during the decade of the 1930s? What factors in California state history during the 1920s and 30s might account for the differences in change (or lack of change) in the populations?

6) The issue of generational differences is a constant theme in the history of immigration into the United States. Older, first generation immigrants, who are slower to adapt to their new culture are caught in conflict with their American born children who quickly become fluent in English and are more likely to adapt to American cultural practices. This was a particularly difficult problem for first generation Japanese immigrants, or Issei, and their Nisei, or American born, children - a problem magnified by the internment experience. Use the 1940 census data and create maps showing the percentage of the Issei, or foreign born, population compared to the Nisei, or native born Japanese population. Create similar maps for the native born and foreign born populations of all nationalities in California. Make sure that you copy the classification settings from one map to the others so that comparison between the maps is easy. Analyze how the makeup of the Japanese American population compares with that of the immigrant population at large.

7) Write your own question about the demographics of the Japanese American population in California in 1940 and 1950 based on the census data available to you. Prepare appropriate maps and tables and write a short summary of your conclusions.

Last modified in March, 2017 by Rick Thomas