Learn about the stories of Minnesota’s secret language school during World War II in a new panel exhibit

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Developed by the Twin Cities Japanese American Citizens League, this free display opens Saturday, June 15 at Historic Fort Snelling

Fast facts

What: Minnesota Secret Language School Photo Exhibit

When: June 15-Sept. 2, 2019. Opening June 15, 11 am-3pm

Where: Fort Snelling Historic Visitor Center, 200 Tower Ave., St. Paul

No cost. On-site admission compulsory for virtual reality demonstrations on opening day.

During World War II, nearly 6,000 Japanese Americans attended the Military Intelligence Service’s Secret Language School (MISLS) – located at Camp Savage, then Fort Snelling – and trained as linguists. to fight in the Pacific theater.

In a new exhibit developed by the Twin Cities Japanese American Citizens League, a dozen panels share stories and photographs of MISLS students and their experiences during the war, including the challenge of serving in the military as the US government was forcibly detaining hundreds of thousands of Japanese-Americans in concentration camps. Photographs featured include images from historical collections as well as personal family photo albums.

Edwin “Bud” Nakasone, a Hawaii-born MISLS student, experiences snow in Minnesota, courtesy of Bud Nakasone (right).

On Saturday, June 15, visitors can get a first look at the exhibit and enjoy a 1 p.m. presentation on the history of MISLS by Kimmy Tanaka, Fort Snelling historical performer, and Rosalyn Tonai, National Executive Director. Japanese American Historical Society.

Additionally, from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Kat Hayes, associate professor of anthropology at the University of Minnesota, will lead demonstrations of Virtual MISLS, a virtual reality experience that allows users to explore 3D models recreating the spaces where students were trained at Fort Snelling. You can see a short demo here; the application is available on iOS and Android. The VR experience was developed by Hayes with the Advanced Imaging Service for Objects and Spaces Lab at the U of M.

While the MISLS exhibit and presentation in the Fort Snelling Historic Visitor Center is free, general admission is required for the Virtual Reality Experience, which will take place in the Historic Fort.

“Minnesota’s Secret Language School” will be on display until Labor Day, Monday, September 2.


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