Interview with Mary Matsuda Gruenewald

Mary Matsuda Gruenewald, who was 90 years old in 2015 when this interview took place, is a retired Seattle health care professional and author of the memoir Looking Like the Enemy: My Story of Imprisonment in Japanese-American Internment Camps (NewSage Press, 2005).

Mary Matsuda was a 17 year old living on her family's strawberry farm on Vashon Island on December 7, 1941 when Pearl Harbor was attacked. The island's Japanese-American leaders were taken away by the FBI and detained in secret. Her family knew the government would come for them next, so they burned all of their Japanese possessions - family photographs, her father's music, treasured books, even her dolls. They did not want to look even faintly sympathetic to Japan, the country responsible for the Pearl Harbor devastation. Five months after the attack, on May 16, 1942, the Matsuda family and the other Japanese-American families on Vashon Island were forced to evacuate Vashon Island, and moved into the "protective custody" of inland internment camps for three years, along with almost 120,000 others of Japanese descent.

This interview captures parts of Mary's stories that are not fully covered in her two books and asks specific questions about her experience on Vashon Island and her knowledge of the Japanese-American community on Vashon before and after World War II.


The full Mary Matsuda Gruenewald Interview is divided into four sections for ease of watching. Each section is identified below and you may click on each section link to see and hear that part of the interview:

Mary Matsuda Gruenewald Interview Part 1: American Concentration Camps and Loyalty Oath Conflicts.

Mary Matsuda Gruenewald Interview Part 2: Japanese Community on Vashon and the Miyoshi House Burning

Mary Matsuda Gruenewald Interview Part 3: Vashon Japanese Families and The Mukai House and Garden

Mary Matsuda Gruenewald Interview Part 4: How Incarceration Destroyed the Vashon Japanese Community