MEETING MRS. ROOSEVELT
Less than a week after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, on Dec. 13, 1941, Eleanor Roosevelt was in Tacoma on a West
Coast tour promoting civil defense. Following a meeting with local civil defense officials, Mayor Harry P. Cain
P’79 arranged for Mrs. Roosevelt to meet with students who represented the 39 Japanese-Americans attending
the College of Puget Sound. They were Shigeo Wakamatsu ’42 (here, with hands folded) and Waichi Oyanagi ’43
(second from right). In their meeting with Mrs. Roosevelt, the students expressed concerns about the negative
impacts the war would almost certainly have on them. She said she would talk with the president about the matter.
Ultimately her efforts failed to keep the president from authorizing the detention and internment of almost 120,000
Japanese-Americans living on the Pacific Coast. Harry Cain was one of the very few national or regional officials in
the country to speak out formally against the action. In 2009, Puget Sound granted honorary baccalaureate degrees
to its students who were interned during the war.
Richards Collection, Tacoma Public Library