For over three years, approximately 8,500 Japanese-Americans were interned in a camp built on the muddy flatlands of southeast Arkansas. Their lives and stories are inextricably interwoven with this place and its people in a narrative that encompasses injustice, prejudice, anger, and fear, but also hope, compassion, and courage. This is the story of Rohwer and a celebration of the people who chose - like the lotus - to rise with grace and beauty above the circumstances that forced them here.
One of ten Japanese-American internment camps established during World War II, the Rohwer Relocation Center in rural Desha County, Arkansas opened on September 18, 1942. At the time of its closure on November 30, 1945, the camp had been home - at one time or another - to 11,926 Japanese-Americans forcibly removed from their homes on the West Coast. Just as their three years of internment left an indelible mark on the landscape of their lives, so they altered the place called Rohwer, both figuratively and literally. Remnants and ruins of the camp still scatter the fields planted in cotton and soybeans, and the Memorial Cemetery, declared a National Historic Monument in 1992, is a somber reminder of the people who lived and worked here. Interpretive panels constructed at the site in 2013 tell the abridged history of the camp, but are by necessity too brief to articulate the immensity of the full narrative. The documents, maps, and visualizations presented here are fragments of that narrative, pieced together in a technological framework, in an effort to bring the story to life.