Ethnic Heritage: Asian
National Historic Site
National Historic Site is one of ten permanent war relocation camps
that existed during World War II. It was the temporary home of 10,000
people of Japanese ancestry who had been removed from their homes
along the West Coast following the signing of Executive Order 9066.
The camp existed from the spring of 1942 until the fall of 1945.
Because of the importance of this camp in the story of World War II, it
was designated as a National Historic Site in 1992. It is the only
one of the ten permanent camps that has this designation.
Prior to World War II the 813 acres comprising Manzanar National Historic
Site had other periods of human habitation. For thousands of years
it was the home of the Paiute tribe before they were marched to
Fort Tejon in the mid 1800s to make way for European ranchers and
farmers. In the early 1900's it was a thriving agricultural community
with a population of approximately 200 people. A descendant of one
of the early ranching families at Manzanar would later figure prominently
in Manzanar War Relocation Camp. His name was Ralph Merritt and
he served as the project director in the camp from the fall of 1942
until after the camp closing in 1945.