Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Remembering Pearl Harbor

A black and white photograph of Takanobu Mitsui.Seventy years ago, the weeks following December 7, 1941, were filled with a good deal of uncertainty and anxiety for the entire nation and the world, including members of the Dartmouth community.  On campus, discussion and debate continued between the interventionists and the pacifists and all of those in between. For Takanobu "Nobu" Mitsui, a member of the class of 1943, and the elder son of a prominent Japanese industrialist and Dartmouth alumnus, life was exceedingly more disquieting. Mr. Mitsui wanted to stay and complete his education at Dartmouth, following in his father’s footsteps and to be followed by his younger brother Mori '58.

History reveals that, thanks to the sponsorship and oversight of his family, several alumni, members of the administration and classmates, he was able to remain in Hanover, all the while under the watchful eye of President Hopkins and the State Department.

The archives contain multiple sources that give us glimpses of Mr. Mitsui's experiences here in the days following Pearl Harbor, as well as the care and concern shown by some members of the Dartmouth community. However, despite the safe harbor provided to him, Dartmouth was not immune to negative outside influences. Racist anti-Japanese sentiments filtered into Hanover and the campus, via the news media, propaganda and blackballing in fraternities.
A poster showing a racist caricature of a Japanese man with the text "Plizz not to work so hard."
A poster featuring an airplane and the text "Let us divide the Pacific Ocean with Japs We'll take the top and give them the bottom."

A poster featuring a racist caricature of a smiling Japanese man with the text "Wipe off that smile!"
To read Mr. Mitsui's memoir, ask for Alumni M697a; to read the translations of Mr. Mitsui's memoir completed by Edward Rasmussen '42, ask for MS-1069; to see Rauner's collection of World War II ephemera, ask for MS-1198. Mr. Mitsui's alumni file is also available.

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