Densho eNews - May

From the Director: Tom Ikeda

A benefit for me at Densho is having access to timely information and news about Japanese American history and the Japanese American community. Not only is Densho collecting its own materials and making its own news, but we are in constant contact with individuals and organizations across the country who are doing similar work. The free monthly Densho eNews is our way of sharing what we discover. We may share moving and relevant stories from our visual history collection, advance notice of events at former detention sites, updates on federal legislation affecting preservation of Japanese American history, or simply noteworthy items we find on the Internet.

This past month, for example, Professor Jim McIlwain published a website called "Soldiers and the Camps" that is the most accurate and comprehensive listing of Japanese Americans who served in the military during World War II. I learned more about Jim's work when he requested information about my father to update his database. You can learn more about "Soldiers and the Camps" by reading a short summary below and linking to the website to search for your own friends and family who served.

We now have over 5,000 subscribers to our eNews, and I have set a goal of increasing that number in order to inform more people around the country about advances and discoveries in the Japanese American story. Advisors tell me the easiest and best way to reach more readers is to have your current subscribers encourage their friends to sign up. If you enjoy receiving the eNews, you probably know others who would also like it. So please take a few moments and forward this eNews to people who you think would be interested. To make the invitation more enticing, you and the new subscriber will be entered into a monthly drawing for a DVD of the feature film American Pastime about families finding dignity behind barbed wire.

From the Archive

Vilified, Ostracized, Determined: Draft Resisters of Conscience

"That is my individual feeling. I don't feel that it should be left to some one else."
   -- Frank Emi

Nearly sixty-five years have passed, but hard feelings have not about an agonizing aspect of the Japanese American incarceration. On May 10, 1944, a federal grand jury issued indictments for draft evasion to sixty-three young men from the Heart Mountain, Wyoming, War Relocation Authority camp. While the Heart Mountain group were not the only draft resisters of conscience in the camps -- there were over 300 in all -- they were the most organized, publicized, and thus most remembered for choosing prison rather than reporting for service as second-class citizens.

>> Read more of this article

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Densho News

Share the eNews with a Friend: Win a Prize

Help us gain new subscribers for Densho's eNews! If you like the free monthly e-newsletter, please forward this issue to friends who you think will also enjoy it. If they sign up, you and your friends will be eligible to win a DVD of the crowd-pleasing feature film American Pastime. All our emails are free and you can unsubscribe at any time. Thank you for helping us reach new readers.

Subscribers to Densho's free monthly eNews receive:

  • Compelling articles with interviews and images from the Densho Digital Archive, the largest online collection of Japanese American historical resources
  • Previews of additions to the free Densho Digital Archive - letter and photo collections, newspapers published in the camps, national video interviews
  • Developments in the community-legislative updates, historical preservation efforts, links to news articles
  • Announcements of programs, exhibitions, and events around the country - pilgrimages, symposia, documentary screenings, educational workshops, author talks
  • Recommended resources and websites for teaching and research- free databases of camp populations, veterans records, online curricula

Barbara Takei of the Tule Lake Committee says, "For most emailed newsletters I hit the delete button. But not the Densho eNews, which I save for the concisely written articles covering issues of vital importance to the Nikkei community."

>> To sign up for the free Densho eNews
>> For more information about American Pastime

Nominate Someone to be Interviewed at the Denver Conference

Densho is branching out from our Pacific Northwest base to collect life stories from all ten War Relocation Authority camps. We will video record interviews at the national conference hosted by the Japanese American National Museum in Denver, July 3-6. (See the article below for details about the conference "Whose America? Who's American?") Please help us identify potential interview subjects who are planning to attend the Denver conference. Good candidates are not only willing and able to be interviewed on camera, but also have life stories that depart from the typical camp experience. We are seeking to document less known aspects of the incarceration story, such as draft resistance, prewar Japanese residence, and living outside of the military zones. Thank you for helping Densho paint a complete picture of the complex subject of being Japanese American (or knowing Japanese Americans) during World War II.

The deadline for nominating interviewees at the Denver conference is May 31. You may submit nomination forms by mail (1416 S. Jackson St., Seattle, WA 98144), fax (206-320-0098) , or email ([email protected]).

>> See the interviewee selection criteria
>> See the interviewee nomination form

Densho Issues 2007 Annual Report

In the first days of May, copies of Densho's 2007 annual report will appear in the mailboxes of our supporters. The report provides financial data, donor acknowledgments, and an overview of the year's accomplishments. 2007 was a productive year for Densho, during which we added thousands of documents, hundreds of photographs, and nearly three dozen video interviews to the Digital Archive. The 2007 annual report is available on our website, but for those who prefer to read a printed version, we will be pleased to mail a copy to eNews subscribers who provide a postal address. Densho is extremely grateful to graphic artist Paula Onodera Wong for donating the gorgeous design, centered on collages of images from the Densho Digital Archive. In a poignant tribute, the issue of the camp newspaper that Paula chose for the cover shows the army photo of her uncle who was killed in combat, as was Tom Ikeda's uncle, pictured in the same article.

>> Read the Densho 2007 annual report

New to the Website

Online Publication: A Study of Incarceration Sites in Hawai`i

Now available in the Resources section of our website is a recent, in- depth archeological study with maps of eight sites associated with the wartime incarceration of aliens and U.S. citizens in Hawai`i. World War II Japanese American Internment Sites in Hawai`i was commissioned by the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai`i, which educates the public about the incarceration and spearheads an effort to find and commemorate the detention sites in the islands. Over 2,000 Japanese Americans, as well as over 100 German Americans and Italian Americans, both aliens and U.S. citizens, were incarcerated at eight locations in Hawai`i. Jeffrey Burton, the National Parks Service archeologist, and co-author Mary Farrell worked with the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai`i in 2006 to identify the locations of the sites and evaluate their condition. The purpose of the study was to provide recommendations for future research, interpretation, and management of the former detention sites.

>> Download the report (22MB pdf)
>> Download the supplemental maps (19MB pdf)
>> Read a Honolulu Advertiser article

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Recommended Resource

"Soldiers and the Camps" Online Database

Several thousand Americans of Japanese ancestry served in uniform during World War II despite being uprooted from their homes and confined to detention camps by their government. "Soldiers and the Camps" is an ongoing project that identifies as many of these soldiers as possible and the camps through which they passed. The database lists approximately 31,000 names, largely from government sources such as the National Archives. About half of these individuals were from the mainland and, of those, about half can be matched to one of the ten War Relocation Authority (WRA) camps. "Soldiers and the Camps" was created by James McIlwain, who has made the database available to the public in the hope that people seeking a record of a friend, family member, or fellow soldier will notify him of any errors or omissions at [email protected]

>> Visit the online database "Soldiers and the Camps"

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National News and Events

Bainbridge Island Memorial Becomes Newest Addition to National Park System

Two sites of significance in Japanese American history are included in a massive public land bill that Congress passed on April 29. The Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008, which the president has signed, designates the Eagledale ferry landing on Bainbridge Island, Washington, as a national historic site under the protection of the National Park Service (NPS). The park and a planned memorial, Nidoto Nai Yoni ("Let it not happen again"), will honor the first Japanese Americans to be forcibly removed under Executive Order 9066. The legislation declares the Bainbridge Island site to be part of the NPS-managed Minidoka National Historic Site (formerly the Minidoka National Internment Monument). The borders of the Minidoka site will be expanded, and NPS will create interpretive and education programs, including oral histories.

>> Hear a KUOW Public Radio story
>> Read a Seattle Times article
>> Read an Idaho Statesman article

The Long Journey Home: University of Washington Honors Nikkei Students

The University of Washington, like other West Coast schools, was required by the federal government to banish all Japanese American students from campus in spring 1942. Some 440 UW students of Japanese descent could not complete their studies that year. Though some students returned or received their degrees from other colleges, the education and potential careers of many others were permanently disrupted. To honor all these Nikkei students, and to raise awareness of the grievous national wrong, the University of Washington is granting honorary degrees to every affected student, living or dead. The ceremony The Long Journey Home will be held May 18 on the UW campus.

>> For more information about the Nikkei student ceremony

Volunteer Opportunity: Archeological Dig at Manzanar

Archeological projects are vital to preserving Manzanar National Historic Site and telling its stories. This spring and summer, National Park Service archeologist Jeffrey Burton will supervise a crew of archeologists and volunteers in uncovering and stabilizing the rock gardens and other features of Merritt Park. This extensive community garden was constructed by Japanese Americans while they were incarcerated at Manzanar during World War II. Volunteer positions for this project are available. The project will take place in three sessions: May 19 to May 31, July 21 to August 1, and August 30 to September 2. The Manzanar National Historic Site is located in the Owens Valley, California, near Lone Pine. Volunteers must sign up ahead of time. For more information or to volunteer, contact Carrie Andresen at 760-878-2194, ext. 2714 or [email protected]

>> For more information about the Manzanar volunteer opportunity

Minidoka Pilgrimage and Civil Liberties Symposium

The 2008 pilgrimage to the Minidoka, Idaho, former incarceration camp will take place June 20 to 22. Organized by the Friends of Minidoka, the program consists of a guided tour of the Minidoka National Historic Site by National Park Service staff, a visit to an original barrack, a BBQ dinner hosted by a local rancher with entertainment and speakers, a commemorative ceremony at Minidoka, and additional activities. Preceding the pilgrimage will be a symposium, "Civil Liberties and the Media," held June 19 to 20, on the campus of the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls. Densho executive director Tom Ikeda will be one of the speakers at the symposia.

>> For more information about the Minidoka Pilgrimage

National Conference: "Whose America? Who's American?"

The national conference "Whose America? Who's American? Diversity, Civil Liberties, and Social Justice" will be held July 3 to 6 at the Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center. Organized by the Japanese American National Museum, the 2008 national conference will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, the redress legislation. All who are interested in learning about the Japanese American experience and its significance to civil liberties and social justice today are invited to attend.

>> For more information about the national conference

Tule Lake Pilgrimage: "The Segregation Center"

The 2008 Tule Lake pilgrimage to the former incarceration camp, near the northern California town of Newell, takes place July 3 to 6. The program includes a site tour, memorial service, panel discussions with former internees and community activists, intergenerational discussion groups, and cultural performances. In addition there will be many community-building activities to learn the history of Tule Lake as the segregation center for so-called disloyal, and its relevance to the present day.

>> For more information on the Tule Lake Pilgrimage

JACL National Convention: "Legacy of Leadership"

The Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) is holding its 2008 annual national meeting at Salt Lake City from July 16 to 20. The "Legacy of Leadership" conference will focus on civic engagement, personal health and finance, and the changing nature of the national Japanese American community. This year's conference will also offer workshops and activities directed toward younger generations.

>> For more information on the national JACL conference

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