Santa Fe Camp, NARA History professor travels to New Mexico to study confinement of Japanese-AmericansImage of

History professor travels to New Mexico to study confinement of Japanese-Americans

During World War II over 120,000 Japanese-Americans were sent to War Relocation Authority camps in New Mexico. Assistant Professor of History Sarah Payne is studying the lives of these Americans, who suffered imprisonment as a result of racism and wartime hysteria.

Her project, “Confinement in the Land of Enchantment: Japanese Americans in New Mexico during WWII” (CLOE) focuses on the stories of World War II Japanese confinement sites located in Santa Fe, Ft. Stanton, Old Raton Ranch (Baca Camp), and Camp Lordsburg, New Mexico.  In addition to telling the stories of detainees held at each of these facilities, the project examines how the surrounding communities interacted with their Japanese and Japanese American neighbors both inside and outside of the camps.

Internees at Camp Lordsburg, NARA

Internees at Camp Lordsburg, NARA

CLOE began in 2011, when Dr. Payne secured a National Park Service Japanese American Confinement Sites grant in collaboration with the New Mexico Japanese American Citizens League.  The project team conducted research about the New Mexico confinement sites and gathered oral history interviews from Japanese Americans who lived in NM during WWII. This research was used to produce an educational outreach publication about the camps, which will be distributed to NM libraries and schools, historic markers, and as an addition to the New Mexico Office of the State Historian website.

These efforts will have two major long-term impacts.  First, this project will increase the level of awareness New Mexicans have about the Japanese-American confinement sites that were located in their state, and about this chapter in U.S. history. The second long-term impact of the project will be to facilitate the connection of people to the places where they live by providing New Mexicans with a more nuanced understanding of the histories of their state.

The project has depended on donations from various agencies and donors. For more information about the CLOE Project or how you can support it, contact Tess Moening at