Morgen Young

Morgen Young is a historian in Portland, Oregon. She specializes in Pacific Northwest history, community history, oral history, exhibit development, and historic preservation. She is currently curating the traveling photography exhibit "Uprooted: Japanese American Farm Labor Camps During World War II." Her research of farm labor camps has been published in the Densho Encyclopedia and the Oregon Historical Quarterly.

Updated May 2014 

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Photographer Russell Lee

Photographer Russell Lee (1903–86) is best recognized for his work with the Farm Security Administration (FSA). His photographic career extended from 1935 until his retirement in 1973. He worked for the largest federal documentary project in the history of the United States, and it was during this time that he documented several hundred images of the forced removal and confinement of Japanese Americans in the spring and summer of 1942.

Early Life

Russell Lee was born on July 21, 1903, in Ottawa, Illinois. His parents divorced when he was five years old and he lost contact with his father ...

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Detention Facility at Nyssa, Oregon

From May to November 1942, Nyssa [pronounced NISS-a], Oregon, served as the site of the first farm labor camp organized during the wartime Japanese American experience. Established as a result of the “Oregon Plan” for the forced removal and confinement of the state’s Nikkei residents, the camp held approximately three hundred fifty laborers at its peak. These workers provided critical agricultural labor in eastern Oregon’s Malheur County. By the summer of 1942, the camp became so well known that the Pacific Citizen referred to it as “the camp without a fence.”1

Organizing the Nyssa Tent Camp

In ...

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Oregon Plan

During the April 7, 1942 Salt Lake City governors’ meeting, George K. Aiken, executive secretary to Governor Charles Sprague of Oregon, presented the state’s plan for the forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. The so-called “Oregon Plan” was ultimately rejected by the War Relocation Authority (WRA) but led to the establishment of a Japanese American farm labor camp in Nyssa, Oregon, the first such labor camp organized during the war.

Background and Development of the Oregon Plan

By mid-March 1942, WRA Director Milton Eisenhower contemplated the establishment of labor camps for Japanese Americans. His ...

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