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iPhone App Recreates WWII-Era Japanese American Internment Camp
New RAMA walking tour, “Topaz Relocation Camp,” uses geo-located historical photographs and narrative to reconstruct infamous concentration camp in Utah desert
DELTA, Utah—Dec 16, 2011—Today, the 19,800 acres where 11,000 Japanese American internees farmed and lived in isolation from the rest of the country is easy to miss on the drive west from Delta, Utah. A new iPhone walking tour, however, aims to virtually reconstruct the historical Topaz War Relocation Center, so that this flat stretch of desert—and the dark time in American civil rights history it represents—won’t be so easily overlooked.
Available on Rama, the BBC-recommended iPhone app that serves as a portal for authors offering photographic walking tours, “Topaz Relocation Camp” uses the iPhone’s mapping and GPS functions to guide visitors through the former site of the camp and offer glimpses of its former structures and residents. Using archival and personal photographs taken at the camp in the 1940s, the tour’s journey-through-time shows and tells the story of the internees at Topaz, including daily life in the camp’s 36 residential blocks, toiling on the farms in the desert, the activities of the local Boy Scouts troop, and the Topaz High School’s dances.
“I wanted to tell a story of triumph over adversity and the great ability of the Japanese community to establish their own unified and successful community by looking at the artifacts and landscape features that remain at the site,” said Dana Ogo Shew, the tour’s author.
Shew’s research in the concentration camp was motivated not only by her background in archaeology and history, but also by her personal connection. “My grandmother, her three sisters, parents, and other family members were all interned at Topaz. By examining the everyday lives of the internees, it helped to bring the site to life and give me a better understanding of my family’s day to day experience within confinement.”
“Topaz Relocation Camp” is available as an in-app purchase for $0.99 on Rama. Download Rama at iTunes by visiting http://bit.ly/iTunesRama, or through the developer’s website at http://www.crimsonbamboo.com.