Volunteers Invited to Join Public Archeology Project at Manzanar

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Volunteers dig out a Block 14 basement at Manzanar. (NPS photo)

Manzanar’s award-winning public archeology program provides exceptional opportunities to learn about the past and help preserve the site and its stories for the future.

From March 27 to April 1, volunteers will have the unique opportunity to assist the National Park Service in uncovering and stabilizing Manzanar’s historic camp hospital and Children’s Village areas.

Medical care in camp was administered in primitive barracks before the government built a 250-bed hospital in 1942 to care for more than 10,000 people. In 16 connected buildings, the hospital housed operating rooms, laboratories, a pharmacy, dental and eye clinics, and a morgue.

The Children’s Village was home to 101 children and the only orphanage in the ten camps where the U.S. government incarcerated over 120,000 Japanese Americans. Nearly half of these children had been brought from West Coast institutions and foster homes. Others were temporarily separated from families when their parents were arrested or became ill, and some were infants born out of wedlock. These children were nurtured by a dedicated Japanese American staff and others, becoming a unique wartime family.

Volunteer positions are available to anyone age 15 and over who is physically able to work outdoors and participate in moderately strenuous activities. Volunteers will be digging with shovels and small hand tools, raking, operating wheelbarrows, screening sediments to retrieve artifacts, and taking notes or filling out forms and labels. Previous archeological experience is helpful, but not necessary.

Most of the work is physically demanding, but there will be a variety of tasks each day to suit different interests and energy levels. Volunteers simply need an interest in history and a willingness to get dirty.

The work will be conducted outdoors, regardless of weather, from 7:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. daily, including the weekend. Volunteers may work any number of days or hours, but a full day or multiple days are preferred. Bring water, lunch and work gloves, and be sure to wear sunscreen, a hat, and sturdy boots. Also bring any necessary medications.

Advance sign-up is required as this project is limited to 25 participants per day.

For more information and/or to sign up, contact Manzanar’s Cultural Resources Manager Jeff Burton at (760) 878-2194, ext. 3305, or email [email protected]

Manzanar National Historic Site is located at 5001 Highway 395, six miles south of Independence and nine miles north of Lone Pine. Learn more on the website at https://www.nps.gov/manz or on the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ManzanarNationalHistoricSite.

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