Post written in collaboration with Patrick Dunagan.
February 19, 2022 marks the 80th anniversary of signing of Executive Order 9066 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, which granted the U.S. Army the authority to establish military zones in California, Oregon, Washington, and Arizona, during World War II. This act resulted in the forced displacement and incarceration of some 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry living on the West Coast—including thousands from the San Francisco Bay Area—to concentration camps throughout the United States. The Day of Remembrance is an opportunity to recognize the unjust incarceration of Japanese Americans, and to reflect on and reaffirm our commitment to equal justice for all.
Gleeson has two resources providing substantial historical documents regarding the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II:
This collection, organized by relocation center, includes reports as well as correspondence on issues such as security, education, health, vocational training, agriculture, food, and family welfare. Some documents appear in Japanese, and many were produced at the camps themselves. Central Utah incarceration camp: “Our Daily Diary” includes the diary of the camp’s third graders while Heart Mountain incarceration camp: silk screen industry advertisements exhibits 22 examples of screen prints produced by the camp’s silk screen shop.
Japanese American Confinement Sites
Produced in collaboration with National Japanese American Historical Society (NJAHS), this collection is hosted by Gleeson’s Digital Collections. It includes dozens of files of documents, photographs, and artifacts taken at or made directly at the sites of camps, usually by detainees, as well as images relating to the structuring of the camps, such as architectural drawings and engineering plans or maps.
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We also wish to draw attention to the below important resources drawn from outside Gleeson’s collections.
- Densho – A grassroots organization started with the goal of documenting oral histories from Japanese Americans who were incarcerated during World War II, Densho offers extensive primary source materials, including a digital repository of photographs, documents, and other material; over 900 oral history interviews; as well as a comprehensive and ever-growing encyclopedia about the history of the Japanese American WWII exclusion and incarceration experience.
- Japanese American Relocation Digital Archive (Calisphere) – Gateway to a selection of primary source materials held by California institutions on the subject of Japanese American relocation and incarceration during World War II.
- Japanese Evacuation and Resettlement: A Digital Archive (UC Berkeley, Bancroft Library) – Includes over 530,000 primary source materials drawn from an extensive collection of manuscripts and photographs documenting the Japanese American incarceration experience.
- Japanese American Incarceration Images, 1941-1946 (USC) – Over 200 photographs from the Hearst Collection of the Los Angeles Examiner in the USC Regional History Collection.
- Japanese American National Museum Collections – Selected online images from the museum’s permanent collections, some of which cover the Japanese American incarceration experience.
- Manzanar War Relocation Center records (UCLA Special Collections) – Consists of files collected and maintained by Ralph Palmer Merritt (Director of the Japanese Relocation Center at Manzanar, California) including files of the Wartime Civil Control Administration (WCCA), the War Relocation Authority (WRA) records and correspondence; books, clippings, reprints of committee hearings, photographs, documenting activities and people at Manzanar; and approximately 170 photographs by Ansel Adams of the Manzanar War Relocation Center.
Below are a number of Day of Remembrance events and compilations of events:
- Bay Area Day of Remembrance, Feb 19 (virtual)
- We Hereby Refuse: the Bay Area Allies of the Resisters, Feb 13 (virtual)
- Smithsonian National Museum of American History events, Feb 18-20 (virtual)
- Asian Art Museum: Executive Order 9066 at 80: Incarceration and Reparations Then and Now, Feb 10
- Day of Remembrance February Events (Resisters.com)
- Day of Remembrance Events (Densho)
- Day of Remembrance events by region (Japanese American Citizens League (JACL))
In addition to organizations sponsoring events listed above, these are other important community organizations:
- Tsuru for Solidarity
- Nikkei Resisters (Bay Area)
- The National Japanese American Historical Society (NJAHS) (SF Japantown)
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During these ongoing troubled times, let’s remember: Every February, the Japanese American community commemorates Executive Order 9066 as a reminder of the impact the incarceration experience has had on our families, our community, and our country. It is an opportunity to educate others on the fragility of civil liberties in times of crisis, and the importance of remaining vigilant in protecting the rights and freedoms of all. (Japanese American Citizens League (JACL))