As Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month kicks off, and the anniversary of WWII’s VE (Victory in Europe) Day approaches (May 8), it’s a good time to talk about a major contribution of Asian and Pacific-Islander Americans.
Japanese Americans’ Battle of Wits with the Japanese in WW II
The book Nisei Linguists: Japanese Americans in the Military Intelligence Service During WWII published by the Army’s Center of Military History is an excellent starting point to examine that history. When the United States entered WWII in 1941, the War Department knew that their intelligence efforts would not be successful without understanding of Japanese language and culture. However, few Americans other than the 300,000 or so Japanese Americans living mainly on the West Coast and Hawaii had such knowledge.
The War Department tapped the talents and skills of the second generation (Nisei) Japanese Americans. The Western Defense Command chose sixty Nisei soldiers for Japanese language training at the Fourth Army Intelligence School at the Presidio in San Francisco. The school moved to the Midwest after Pearl Harbor, first locating it in Camp Savage and later in Fort Snelling. The program, renamed the Military Intelligence Service Language School, ran until 1946. Nearly six thousand military linguists graduated from the school to enter the Military Intelligence Service (MIS).
Image: Nisei linguists undergoing training at MIS Crissy Field.
In addition to telling the story of the program and school, the book also describes how the Nisei served with every major unit and headquarters in the Pacific theater. It is testimony to the Nisei’s loyalty and smarts that it took the War Department only two years to get the Nisei military intelligence program up and running. The Nisei braved considerable prejudice to work for U.S. military intelligence, and there is no doubt their participation in American intelligence efforts made the war end earlier.
No one told the story of these linguists for years after WWII, and it was not until the 1980s and 1990s that people began to talk about their experiences with the program. Finally in 1994, Senator Daniel K. Akaka and some other Congressional members asked the Secretary of the Army to publish an official history of the Nisei linguists. This book is the result of that request.
Asian Americans Battle Disease Today
Having turned our thoughts to how Asian-Americans contributed to the care of our nation, it’s also a good time to think about how we care for the Asian-American and Pacific-Islander American portion of the United States population. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has just published Epidemiologic Profile 2010: Asians and Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders.
According to the CDC, “This Epidemiologic Profile is the first compilation of infectious disease-specific data in a single report that focuses on two racial groups in the United States: the Asian population and the Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander population.” The volume includes a chapter in which the Census Bureau contributes to the description of the Asian and Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander populations who reside in the United States.
The report tracks the involvement of Asians, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders in cases of endemic disease. Asians, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders make up a disproportionately large number of cases in some diseases (tuberculosis and hepatitis B), and in others, a smaller percentage of cases than their representation in the U.S. population (STDs and HIV). The report examines specific disease statistics, the challenges of public health education, treatment and disease risk factor mitigation for these populations.
Any public health official, student, social worker, or government employee who works with these populations would definitely want to read this book.
GPO has cataloged a record for the FREE electronic version that Federal depository libraries got in the April 2013 record load.
How can I access the records to both these publications?
- Find the records for Nisei Linguists: Japanese Americans in the Military Intelligence Service During WWII and Epidemiologic Profile 2010: Asians and Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders in GPO’s Catalog of Government Publications.
- Find them in a federal depository library.
How can I purchase Nisei Linguists: Japanese Americans in the Military Intelligence Service During WWII?
- Buy the Paperback book on our U.S. Government Online Bookstore.
- Learn about the eBook on our U.S. Government Online Bookstore.
Our guest blogger is Jennifer K. Davis from GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division that supports the Federal Depository Libraries Program (FDLP). (Article is adapted from an original post in the FDLP Community site.)