Fresno (detention facility)


US Gov Name Fresno Assembly Center, California
Facility Type Temporary Assembly Center
Administrative Agency Wartime Civil Control Administration
Location Fresno, California (36.7333 lat, -119.7667 lng)
Date Opened May 6, 1942
Date Closed October 30, 1942
Population Description Held people from the central San Joaquin Valley and Amador County, California.
General Description Located at the Fresno County Fairgrounds in central California.
Peak Population 5,120 (1942-09-04)
Exit Destination Jerome, Gila River
National Park Service Info

The Fresno Assembly Center was one of fifteen temporary detention centers (euphemistically called "assembly centers") administered by the Wartime Civil Control Administration. Most Japanese Americans forcibly removed from the West Coast were sent to one of these centers during the spring and summer of 1942 while the more permanent concentration camps were being prepared.

Contents

Parameters

The Fresno Assembly Center was located at the Fresno County Fairgrounds just east of downtown Fresno and only about twelve miles from the Pinedale Assembly Center. The detention facility was populated from May 6 to October 30, a total of 177 days. It was last of these facilities to close.

The camp included over one hundred barracks in the infield area of the fairgrounds racetrack, along with four other blocks of twenty barracks each adjacent.

After Japanese Americans left the camp, the site was taken over by the 4th Air Force, which operated a training facility there known as both the Fresno Ground Training Center and the Fresno Army Air Forces Training Center.

Population

The population of Fresno Assembly Center was made up largely of Japanese Americans from the surrounding area, with over 75% of the population coming from Fresno and adjacent counties. Most of the remaining population came from Amador County, located south of Sacramento.

A total of 5,344 inmates were held here, with a peak population of 5,120.

Nearly all of the inmates from Fresno Assembly Center were sent to the Jerome, Arkansas camp, with the remaining handful going to Gila River, Arizona.

Camp Life

• The Fresno Grapevine newspaper was published from May 27 to October 17; it was preceded by a single issue of the Fresno Center News on May 23. The editor of the grapevine was Ayako Noguchi.[1]

• The Grapevine staff also published an elaborate seventy-nine page yearbook titled Vignette: A Pictorial Record of Life in the Fresno Assembly Center. The publication includes profiles of and messages from administrative and inmate leaders and write ups on various aspects of camp life, with drawings and literary pieces interspersed throughout.

• The center manager was E. P. Pulliam; the assistant manager was Ernest A. Dunn.

Remembrance

Fresno Assembly Center was one of the twelve California temporary detention centers to share California Historical Landmark #934, so named in 1980. A California State Historical Marker was dedicated in 1992 at the entrance to the fairgrounds.

In 2009, the local community undertook a project to expand and renovate the memorial/marker at the fairgrounds. The new memorial was dedicated on October 5, 2011. The $180,000 project includes storyboards and banners with historic photos framed with wood from the original barracks, as well as a wall on which names of former inmates are inscribed. Funding from the project came from a grant from the California Civil Liberties Public Education fund and local donors.

For More Information

Burton, Jeffery F., Mary M. Farrell, Florence B. Lord, and Richard W. Lord. Confinement and Ethnicity: An Overview of World War II Japanese American Relocation Sites. Western Archeological and Conservation Center, National Park Service, 1999, 2000. Foreword by Tetsuden Kashima. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2002. The Fresno section of 2000 version accessible online at http://www.cr.nps.gov/history/online_books/anthropology74/ce16a.htm.

The California State Military Museum. "Fresno Army Air Forces Training Center." http://www.militarymuseum.org/FresnoAssyCtr.html.

"Fresno Assembly Center Memorial Rededicated." Pacific Citizen, Oct. 5, 2011. http://www.pacificcitizen.org/news/community/fresno-assembly-center-memorial-rededicated.

The Historical Marker Database. "Fresno Assembly Center". http://www.hmdb.org/marker.asp?marker=51570.

Masumoto, David Mas. Gathering Before the Storm: Fresno Assembly Center, 1942. Del Rey, CA: Inaka Countryside Publications, 1991.

Vignette: A Pictorial Record of Life in the Fresno Assembly Center. Guy & Marguerite Cook Nisei Collection. University of the Pacific Library, Holt-Atherton Department of Special Collections. October, 1942. http://content.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/kt7k4005zt/.

Footnotes

  1. "Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers," Library of Congress, http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn94052708/.