Japanese Americans digging for shells

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ddr-densho-2-48 (Legacy UID: denshopd-p2-00048)

Bain Collection

Left to right: Peggie Yorita, Margaret Frost (wife of one of the camp's teachers), Kumataro Nishimura, and his wife, Kadju, dig and sift for shells at the Tule Lake concentration camp. Kumataro made the sieve by hand from scrap lumber and wire from a door screen. The shells were bleached and used for jewelry-making, which was a popular pastime for people in camp. Tule Lake was drained in the early 1900s. The camp was located on the old lake bed, where people found shells for making jewelry to sell to camp personnel. Shells were scarce, and digging became competitive. To beat the rush, some people got up at sunrise and dug waist-deep holes in order to find the shells. Some had homemade wire sieves for sifting the sand.


Still Image


Courtesy of the Bain Family Collection

Copyright restricted
Copyright restricted