The Manzanar National Historic Site will host two guest speakers in the coming week.

Shirley DaValle Meeder (right) and sister Joan on their barrack steps in Manzanar Block 7, 1943.

Sunday, April 30, at 11 a.m.: The morning after the Manzanar Pilgrimage there will be a special program and book-signing by Dr. Arthur A. Hansen, who will discuss his new book, “Manzanar Mosaic: Essays and Oral Histories on America’s First World War II Japanese American Concentration Camp.”

Professor emeritus Hansen is a pre-eminent historian and oral historian of Japanese American history, and founding director of the first Japanese American oral history program of its kind. He will focus his talk on five pivotal Manzanar oral histories: Sue Kunitomi Embrey, Togo Tanaka, Karl Yoneda, Elaine Black Yoneda and Harry Ueno.

His presentation will conclude with a brief introduction to Manzanar National Historic Site’s Oral History Program — which has been deeply influenced by Hansen’s legacy — from park ranger Rose Masters.

Wednesday, May 3, at 3 p.m.: Shirley DaValle Meeder will share memories of her life in Manzanar from 1942 to 1945, as the child of a War Relocation Authority staff member. Her mother, Marjorie DaValle, taught math at Manzanar High School, while Shirley and her older sister Joan attended school in Independence.

Shirley was 10 when she arrived at Manzanar in 1942. At first, mother and daughters lived in barracks just like the ones Japanese Americans endured. Eleven months later, they moved to a much nicer WRA staff apartment. After attending 6th, 7th and 8th grade in Independence, Shirley earned her B.S. degree from USC in 1953, taught 2nd grade in Southern California, and raised three kids.

“As a child in Mananzar, I accepted what happened to the Japanese. We didn’t hear it discussed often,” she said. “It was a grave injustice … It must have been a very traumatic experience for them to be uprooted from their homes and jobs. I am sure that many of them suffered financial losses, and they all had to endure extremely offensive living conditions.”

Both programs are free and open to the public. They will take place in the West Theater of the Manzanar Visitor Center at 5001 U.S. Highway 395. For more information, call (760) 878-2194, ext. 3310 or visit

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