Educators Smithsonian Education
Letters from Japanese Internment
Step Three
Introduction - Step One - Step Two - Step Three - Step Four - History:Whose Story

Lead the class in a discussion of the letters, including Margaret's. Look for differences and similarities. Which differences might be due to the personalities of the writers or their relationships with Miss Breed? Which ones might be due to the times at which the letters were written? Did the camp change? How did the presence or absence of a fence around Poston affect the writers?

Move on to a discussion of the reliability of first-hand accounts. At the board, make lists of the statements that seem to be facts and those that seem to be expressions of opinions or feelings. Look for support for one writer's statements in the statements of the others.

Conclude by considering questions such as these:

  • What is the value of reading more than one source?
  • Can one document help a historian judge other documents?
  • Did the combination of all the letters affect your judgment of each letter?

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