Official name: Colorado River Relocation Center Location: Yuma County, Arizona
Coordinates: 33.99° N, 114.40° W Size of Camp: 71,800 acres
Opening date: May 8, 1942 Peak population: 17,814
Date of peak: September 2, 194 Closing date: November 28, 1945

As the second most populous War Relocation Authority (WRA) camp after Tule Lake, many internees were sent directly to Poston from their homes rather than first being assigned to “assembly centers.” The camp was built on the Colorado River Indian Reservation despite objections from the Tribal Council. WRA officials overruled the Council, envisioning Poston’s infrastructure as strategic, long-term investments for the Reservation’s population post-war.  Until 1943, Poston was jointly operated with the Office of Indian Affairs. Poston actually consisted of three separate “units” that operated under a centralized administrative headquarters. In the midst of the Sonoran desert, Poston experienced extreme temperatures and commonplace issues with wind and dust storms. Those at Poston came mainly from Central and Southern California. Tensions over camp conditions, pay delays, and community governance came to a head during the Poston Strike of November 1942. Authorities held two men in custody after an attack on a suspected WRA informant. After failed negotiations for their release, a one-week general strike was called.

The disproportionate number of Poston materials at Yale may be attributed to the collection’s provenance. Donated by Stanford librarian and honorary Yale War Collection advisor, Nathan Van Patten, the Poston materials were most likely acquired from a Japanese American librarian at Poston who was an acquaintance of Van Patten. Throughout the war, Van Patten collected hundreds of documents related to Japanese Americans and internment to create what he envisioned would be the strongest “Japanese-American collection” on the East Coast.