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Using Historical Footage (Middle School)

Central Question

Tom Kobayashi, Manzanar Relocation Center, California, Ansel Adams

What is the film’s argument and how is it made? What was the relocation and internment like for Americans of Japanese descent?


This example includes materials for helping middle school students understand the necessity of sourcing and asking questions of nonfiction film.

The Japanese Relocation” was produced by the Office of War Information in 1942 to explain and defend Japanese internment to the American public. Students use information about the film’s origins to predict the film’s message before viewing it and then consider how the filmmakers’ choices help convey its argument.

Additional primary sources complicate and challenge the film’s portrayal of the event, and reiterate the necessity of sourcing historical accounts.

Film Clip: Japanese Relocation. Produced by the Office of War Information, Bureau of Motion Pictures, 1942 (Duration: 9:26 )

Partial Transcript [opening narration]: http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5153

Historical Thinking Focus: Sourcing, Closely reading film