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JEANNE WAKATSUKI HOUSTON

Jeanne Wakatsuki was born on September 26, 1934 in Inglewood, California. Her father, Ko, was born in Hiroshima, Japan and was a first-generation Japanese immigrant to America. Her mother, Riku was born in Hawaii and was a second generation Japanese-American. Jeanne was the youngest of the children. She had five older sisters and four older brothers.

 

The Wakatsuki family was part of the 110,000 Japanese Americans who were interned in relocation camps during World War II. Farewell to Manzanar, written in 1973 by Jeanne and her husband, James Houston, is the story of her family’s time at the camp. After being released from the camp in 1945, Jeanne moved back to the Los Angeles area with her parents and some of her siblings. She studied sociology and journalism at San Jose State College in  San Jose, California. She met James Houston while in college and married him in 1957.

 

In 1971 one of her nephews asked Jeanne for details about Manzanar, as he had been born there but did not have many memories of the experience. In 1972, thirty years after leaving Manzanar, Jeanne returned to the Manzanar campsite with her husband and three daughters. This visit helped her come to terms with what had happened to her and her family. Jeanne and her husband began writing Farewell to Manzanar together. She documents the return visit in the last chapter of the book

Further Writings

Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, Beyond Manzanar and Other Views of Asian-American Womanhood (Capra Press, 1985)
Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and Paul G. Hensler, Don't Cry, It's Only Thunder (New York: Doubleday, 1984)

 

 


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