During World War II, in a
secret chapter in American history, more than 6,000 civilians from the United
States and Latin America were transported by train to Crystal City, a small
desert town at the southern tip of Texas. Japanese, German, and Italian immigrants,
with their American-born children, were being taken to a family internment camp
that was the center of a government prisoner exchange program called “quiet
Author Jan Jarboe Russell documented
this camp and the prisoner exchange program in her New York Times best seller,
The Train to Crystal City. As part of Midwestern State University’s Speakers
& Issues Series, Russell will speak at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 1, at the
Wichita Falls Museum of Art at MSU.
During the course of the war, hundreds
of prisoners in Crystal City, including their children, were exchanged for
other more important Americans – diplomats, businessmen, soldiers, physicians,
and missionaries – behind enemy lines in Japan and Germany. Through the eyes of
two teenage girls, Russell tells the story of life at the camp and their
struggle to return to America after their exchanges. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the internment order.
The Texas Institute of Letters named The Train to Crystal City Best Book of Nonfiction in 2015.
Russell is a former Nieman Fellow, a contributing editor for Texas Monthly, and has written for the New York Times,
the San Antonio
Express-News, Slate, and other publications. She is the author of Lady Bird: A
Biography of Mrs. Johnson and has also compiled and edited They Lived to Tell the Tale. She lives in San
Antonio with her husband, Dr. Lewis F. Russell Jr.
The Speakers and Issues Series
began in 2001 with the idea of bringing informed and creative speakers to the
academic and municipal communities. Since then, more than 20 speakers have come
to MSU from all corners of the country. It is supported by the Libra
Foundation, MSU’s Prothro-Yeager College of Humanities and Social Sciences, the
Wichita Falls Times Record News, KCCU-FM NPR Radio, and KFDX-TV3. Admission is
free; donations are welcome. Contact Dr. Sally Henschel at email@example.com for