The Many Faces of Camp Savage

Civilian Conservation Corps. Homeless Men. Nisei soldiers. What’s their connection with Camp Savage?

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), part of President Roosevelt’s New Deal, was a work relief program for unemployed young men. In Minnesota, Camp Savage housed CCC workers during the 1930s. Later, the Camp housed homeless men.

In June 1942, Camp Savage became the Military Intelligence Service Language School with the mission of training Nisei soldiers (first generation Japanese Americans) in the Japanese language. Born in America, most Nisei soldiers weren’t fluent in their parents’ language. The first class had 200 students. The school schedule was demanding, with classes lasting until 9 pm on weekdays. Graduates of the school served in the Pacific Theater providing code-breaking and other intelligence services. By January 1944, the language school had over 1000 students. When Camp Savage was over its capacity, the school moved to Fort Snelling.

Today, most Camp Savage buildings are gone. The few buildings that remain (south of Highway 13 near Xenwood Avenue) belong to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

To learn more about Japanese Americans and Minnesota in the war, check out these titles from the Kittleson World War II Collection. And visit Special Collections to see a new display on Japanese Internment Camps During WWII.

The Nisei soldier : historical essays on World War II / by Edwin M. Nakasone. J-Press, 1997

Minnesota goes to war : the home front during World War II / Dave Kenney, Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2005.