John E. de Young


Name John E. deYoung
Born 1917
Birth Location Wisconsin

Anthropologist and War Relocation Authority (WRA) community analyst at Minidoka and at several locations outside the concentration camps.

John Edward de Young was born in Wisconsin in 1917 and graduated from Beloit College in 1939, going on to the University of Hawai'i, where he graduated with an M.A. in anthropology in 1941. He subsequently began a Ph.D. program at the University of Chicago, but with war ongoing, left to become a regional planner for the Far East Desk of the Office of Strategic Services.[1]

In March of 1943, he joined the WRA's Community Analysis Section (CAS), assigned to the Minidoka, Idaho, camp, one of only two community analysts still in graduate school. (The other was Rachel Reese Sady at Jerome.) Characterized as among "the most productive Community Analysts" by CAS historian Peter Suzuki, Suzuki writes that de Young, his successor Elmer Smith, and the Japanese American staff produced 355 documents and that de Young was one of the few to report on language in the camps and on kinship. De Young was also the first community analyst to work outside the camps, leaving Minidoka in September 1943 to spend a month in Denver, writing a report titled "A Preliminary Survey of the Adjustment of Japanese Evacuees in Denver." He left Minidoka on February 16, 1944, and later did community analysis work out of the WRA's New York office. Elmer Smith was his successor at Minidoka. De Young did return to Minidoka in January and February 1945 while Smith was investigating conditions on the Pacific Northwest, where the bulk of Minidoka inmates had originated and would be returning to. In his final report, Smith writes that while de Young got on well with the project director Harry Stafford, he clashed with other staff members due in part to his youth and to general suspicions about his role. After the war, de Young was among the social scientists who worked on the Department of Interior Resettlement Study, a one-year project to further study Japanese American readjustment after their incarceration that was run by the War Agency Liquidation Unit, the successor to the WRA. Assigned to do fieldwork in Chicago in the second half of 1946, he contributed to the study published as People in Motion in 1947. His field reports from Chicago are available in The Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Digital Archive at the University of California, Berkeley.[2]

After his work with Japanese Americans, de Young became an associate professor at the University of the Philippines in 1948, focusing his research on Thailand and the Philippines. The University of California Press published his study, Village Life in Modern Thailand in 1955. He left academia that year to join the staff of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands as a staff anthropologist, later becoming its program officer. In 1967, he moved to Washington, DC, to become deputy assistant director in the Office of Territories in the Department of the Interior. He was later program director of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and briefly its interim secretary general in 1971.[3]

Authored by Brian Niiya, Densho

For More Information

deYoung, John E. Village Life in Modern Thailand. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1955.

People in Motion: The Postwar Adjustment of the Evacuated Japanese Americans. Washington, D.C. War Agency Liquidation Unit, United States Department of the Interior, [1947]. [de Young's Chicago field reports in The Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Digital Archive at UC Berkeley: daily reports, weekly summary reports.]

Smith, Elmer. "Final Report of the Community Analysis Section, Minidoka Relocation Center, Hunt, Idaho." Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley. http://content.cdlib.org/view?docId=ft167n99p1.

Footnotes

  1. Melville J. Herskovits, editor, International Directory of Anthropologists, Third Edition (Washington, DC: American Anthropological Association, 1950), 42; "John de Young Moves to Interior Department," Micronesian Reporter 14.6 (Dec. 1966–Feb. 1967), 5.
  2. Peter. T. Suzuki, "Anthropologists in the Wartime Camps for Japanese Americans: A Documentary Study," Dialectical Anthropology 6.1 (Aug. 1981), 34, 52n116; Katharine Luomala, "Community Analysis by the War Relocation Authority Outside the Relocation Centers," Applied Anthropology 6.1 (Winter 1947), 27, 30; Elmer Smith, "Final Report of the Community Analysis Section, Minidoka Relocation Center, Hunt, Idaho." Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, accessed on May 21, 2014 at http://content.cdlib.org/view?docId=ft167n99p1; Pacific Citizen, Aug. 10, 1946, 3; People in Motion: The Postwar Adjustment of the Evacuated Japanese Americans (Washington, D.C. War Agency Liquidation Unit, United States Department of the Interior, [1947]).
  3. "John de Young Moves to Interior Department," 5.