Stay for a Dollar a Day: California's Church Hostels and Support during the Japanese American Eviction and Resettlement, 1942-1947
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This thesis examines the support California's church groups offered to Japanese Americans during their eviction, internment, and resettlement from 1942 to 1947, centered on the hostels those groups opened to house, feed, provide storage, and seek employment and long-term housing for their Japanese residents. It first provides a hitherto unwritten narrative of that state's church hostel efforts that have been overshadowed by those in Midwestern and Eastern states that operated for nearly two years before the West Coast was reopened to internees. The origins of California's church hostels during resettlement had roots in the eviction, however, when certain denominations were among the lone supporters of Japanese Americans and demonstrated Christian charity by providing housing, securing storage for their goods, and generally lending a measure of humanity to an otherwise inhumane situation.These church hostels also voiced strong support for the government that was prosecuting the internment of the very people they claimed to support. Conflating Christian and democratic language, church leaders in this period voiced support for a popular war and simultaneously for the most unpopular ethnic group in the country. During eviction, they manifested support of the government through trust in its claim of military necessity, and during internment and resettlement adopted from whole cloth its program of assimilation, steps that afforded a measure of self-insulation them to provide aid to "the enemy." This paradox of church support in this period is the central focus of this thesis.