This presentation is part of Preserving U.S. Military Heritage: WWII to the Cold War, Fredericksburg, Texas, June 4-6, 2019.
by Dr. Lila Rakoczy
One of the more forgotten aspects of Second World War history is the internment of foreign nationals and American citizens within the Lone Star State. These internment camps were located in five places: Crystal City, Seagoville, Kenedy, Dodd Field, and Fort Bliss. Through four Japanese American Confinement Sites Program (JACS) grants between 2009 and 2015 the Texas Historical Commission (THC) has worked to preserve the history of all five internment camps. These projects include oral history interviews, onsite interpretation, new printed brochures, dedicated webpages, archaeological and condition surveys, and a National Register of Historic Places nomination. Over the last several years THC has built on this foundation by forging partnerships with St. Mary’s University, survivors of internment and their families, and the Briscoe Center for American History to ensure that private documents are collected, digitized, and disseminated to the wider public. These different approaches have helped preserve the history of sites threatened by structural loss, new uses, and restricted or limited access.
A native of Huntsville, Texas, Lila Rakoczy has a B.A. in history from King’s College London and an MA and PhD in archaeology from the University of York. For six years, she worked in the heritage sector in Britain, engaging with the community and working with the public to identify, record, and understand the historical artifacts and buildings in their midst. More recently she spent three years as a Visiting Assistant Professor of History at Sam Houston State University. She currently heads the Military Sites and Oral History Program at the Texas Historical Commission.