In the months following the attack on Pearl Harbor, approximately 120,000 Japanese-Americans (most born in the United States) were detained in internment camps.
Dr. William Lindsay Young, president of Park University in 1942, decided to enroll 20 Japanese-American students who had been held at the notorious internment camps. The decision was not universally popular among the Parkville community, but both current students and prominent national figures, including First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, expressed their support of the decision.
Nine of the 20 enrolled students went on to graduate from Park. This digital exhibit showcases a collection of artifacts from this period in Missouri's history, including applications for admission, letters, transcripts, and more. The digitization of the collection is supported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act as administered by the Missouri State Library, a division of the Office of the Secretary of State.
In honor of the 80th anniversary of Park admitting Nisei students in 1942, we've created a digital exhibit with resources on the history of Pearl Harbor and Japanese internment camps, the past and present challenges faced by Japanese-Americans, and our entire digitized collection of Nisei artifacts.
William Lindsay Young (1893-1959) was the son of a coal miner who worked in the mines before founding and directing the University of Montana's School of Religion. He was named the president of Park College in Missouri in 1937.
After visiting the Santa Anita Assembly Center and becoming aware of the plight of Japanese Americans, Young worked with the National Japanese American Student Relocation Council and his board of trustees and faculty at Park to enroll six Nisei students for the fall semester of 1942. A requirement to release the students to attend college was that the town approve the students' arrival, so Young petitioned the local sheriff to sign an approval letter, enraging the town's residents.
When the Nisei students arrived, they were encouraged to minimize trips to town and be accompanied by white students as often as possible. In the end, 20 Nisei students were enrolled, with nine going on to graduate. Young left Park in January 1944 to become the regional director of the National Conference of Christians and Jews.
The Fishburn Archives and Special Collections, located in the Academic Underground, houses manuscripts, print material, photographs, scrapbooks, artwork, and artifacts including furniture, sports trophies, and textiles. The Fishburn Archives provides personalized academic research and information services to alumni, students, faculty, staff, and community patrons.
The Fishburn Archives and Special Collections preserves, protects, and provides information services related to Park College (1875-2000), Park University (2000 to Present), the City of Parkville, Missouri (1844 to Present), and County of Platte, Missouri (1838 to Present) records.
Access to archived materials is available by appointment. Contact the Fishburn Archives by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Timothy Westcott
Associate University Archivist
George S. Robb Centre for the Study of the Great War
Park University Library
8700 NW River Park Drive, Box 61 - Parkville, MO - 64152
Phone: (816) 584-6285
Toll-free: (800) 270-4347