Rachel Reese Sady

Name Rachel Reese Sady
Born December 21 1919
Died September 11 2003
Birth Location Des Moines, Iowa

Anthropologist, briefly community analyst at Jerome .

Rachel Elizabeth Reese was born on Dec. 21, 1918, in Des Moines, Iowa. Her father, Curtis W. Reese, a Unitarian minister, soon moved the family to Chicago where he became secretary of the Western Unitarian Conference and later gained fame as a founder of religious humanism and the dean of the Abraham Lincoln Centre, a settlement house founded in 1905 that was open to people of all races and religions. Exposed to many cultures growing up, Reese became an anthropologist, graduating from the University of Chicago with AB (1939) and AM (1941) degrees, doing fieldwork in Guatamala, Mexico, and the Menominee Reservation in Wisconsin. While in Mexico, she met Emil Sady, an Arab American from Los Angeles, and the couple married. During World War II, Emil served in the navy, while Rachel, still a graduate student, took a position with the War Relocation Authority 's Community Analysis Section (CAS). Hired by CAS head Edward Spicer to work in the Washington, DC, office (along with another woman anthropologist, Katharine Luomala ), she was later dispatched to Jerome, Arkansas, from April 1 to June 23, 1944, where she covered the closing of Jerome. A prior community analyst, Edgar C. McVoy , had been at Jerome for the second half of 1943, but there had been no analyst there since November. Sady was one of just three community analysts who was still a graduate student (the others were David H. French and John E. de Young ). [1]

After the war, Sady became a research analyst for President Harry S. Truman 's Committee on Civil Rights and contributed to its final report, To Secure These Rights . She subsequently worked for the Japanese American Citizens League 's Anti-Discrimination Committee as a researcher working on issues of naturalization. She also completed her Ph.D. at the University of Chicago in 1947, writing a dissertation based on her work at Jerome. The couple lived in Maryland while Emil worked for the Interior and State Departments and later moved to New York, where he worked for the United Nations. With three sons by 1953, Rachel stayed home with them, while also developing curricular material for high schools. One such project was a 1970 multimedia unit titled "Japanese American Relocation," distributed by Educational Audio Visual in Pleasantville, New York. After Emil's death in 1974, she taught anthropology at Pace University and Mercy College, where in the 1980s she developed a course titled "Japanese American Wartime Experience." She emerged as a vocal defender of the CAS/WRA legacy later in life, testifying at the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CWRIC) Chicago hearing in 1981 and writing an essay on the CAS in reaction to a revisionist assessment by Orin Starn in American Ethnologist in 1987. She passed away in Arizona in 2003. [2]

Authored by Brian Niiya , Densho

For More Information

Sady, Rachel R. "The Function of Rumors in Relocation Centers." Ph.D. dissertation, University of Chicago, 1947.

———. "Comment on 'Engineering Internment,'" American Ethnologist 14.3 (Aug. 1987): 560-62

———. "Further Comment on 'Engineering Internment,'" American Ethnologist 15.2 (May 1988): 385.

Starn, Orin. "Engineering Internment: Anthropologists and the War Relocation Authority." American Ethnologist 13.4 (1986): 700-20.


  1. William F. Schulz, Making the Manifesto: The Birth of Religious Humanism (Boston: Skinner House Books, 2002), 23–25; Stephen Reese Sady, "Death Notices: Rachel Reese Sady," Anthropology News 45.5 (May 2004): 36; "About Alumni: Deaths," University of Chicago Magazine 96.2 (Dec. 2003), accessed on May 13, 2014 at http://magazine.uchicago.edu/0312/alumni/deaths.shtml ; Edward H. Spicer, "Anthropologists and the War Relocation Authority," in The Uses of Anthropology , edited by Walter Goldschmidt (Washington, DC: American Anthropological Association, 1979), 223; Katharine Luomala, "Research and Records of the War Relocation Authority," Applied Anthropology 7.1 (Winter 1948), 31; [Final Report, Community Analysis Section, Rohwer], Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, accessed on May 13, 2014 at http://content.cdlib.org/ark:/28722/bk000404m5q/ .
  2. Pacific Citizen , Oct. 25, 1947, p. 2, accessed on Jan. 12, 2018 at http://ddr.densho.org/ddr-pc-19-43/ ; Rachel R. Sady, "Comment on 'Engineering Internment,'" American Ethnologist 14.3 (Aug. 1987), 562; Michi Weglyn, Years of Infamy: The Untold Story of America's Concentration Camps (New York: William Morrow & Co., 1976), 338; Sady, "Death Notices"; Alice Yang Murray, Historical Memories of the Japanese American Internment and the Struggle for Redress (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2008), 336.

Last updated Jan. 22, 2024, 11:15 a.m..