Frequently Asked Questions

About the Organization

What does "Densho" mean?

The Japanese word densho means “to pass on to future generations,” or “to leave a legacy.” Read about our history and mission.





How can I visit Densho?

Densho is not a museum for the public to visit. Our collections and exhibits of Japanese American resources are all digital and displayed exclusively on the Densho website. Our office in Seattle is for administration and video production only.





Do you charge a membership fee?

No. All of Densho’s resources are free to teachers, students, and the general public. The Digital Archive of video interviews, photos, and documents can be used free of charge.





Where do you get your funding?

Densho is supported by contributed income from government and foundation grants, the annual Sushi & Sake Fest fundraising event, and individual donations. To earn revenue, we process video interviews for other community groups and nonprofit organizations.





Can Densho provide a speaker who will visit my club or class, or who I can interview?

Densho does not have a speakers bureau. We honor the confidentiality of our interviewees. If you would like to contact a particular person in our Digital Archive, you may send your request and contact information to info@densho.org . If possible, we will forward your request to the person.





Can you recommend ideas for class excursions in my area?

For sites of interest in your area, you could consult your local history museum, historical society, or public library reference desk for suggestions.





Will you recommend my website to your visitors?

Densho does not have a policy of promoting other websites. We do recommend selected educational websites for further research on the Additional Resources page.





Can Densho help me publish my book? Will Densho help me promote my book or film?

Densho is not a publisher, and we do not have special access to publishing houses. While we occasionally present author talks as public education programs, we do not as a rule promote specific books. The same is true of films and other artwork.





Can I donate my photos, documents, and artifacts to Densho?

Densho does not normally collect physical photographs, documents, or objects. We scan photos and papers, occasionally photograph artifacts, and return the originals to the donor. However, if you have a collection you would like to donate please contact us at collections@densho.org to discuss the options.





Using Densho Content

Do I need to cite Densho when I use your materials?

Yes. To view examples of citations for different kinds of content from the Archive and Repository, see the How To Cite Densho” section below.





Do I need to receive permission from Densho to use your materials?

It depends. You do not need Densho’s permission if you can answer yes to all of the following questions:

  • Is the use for either personal or limited use in teaching, scholarship, or research?
  • Is the portion of your project that uses Densho materials small in relationship to the size of the project as a whole?
  • Is the use non-commercial?

If you answered “no” to any of the questions above, you need to request permission from Densho to use our materials.





Does it cost money to use Densho materials?

It depends on your request. Densho may charge service and handling fees if you need Densho staff to research, identify, duplicate, or send materials to you. There may also be usage fees if you want to publish or distribute Densho materials. More information can be found here.





How do I request permission for Densho materials?

The first step is to make your request online. After we approve a completed request, we will create and send you a Restricted Use Agreement and an invoice. When we receive the signed Restricted Use Agreement and payment, we will send our written permission along with the requested materials. Please allow 1-2 weeks to process the requested materials.





Archive Frequently Asked Questions

Is Densho still interviewing people?

Densho continues to selectively collect the life histories of Japanese Americans and others who can speak about the World War II incarceration. See “About the Densho Visual History Collection” below for more information.





How do you select people to interview?

Densho is collecting life stories to represent a wide range of perspectives and experiences from a diverse geographic range. Densho does not have the resources to interview all candidates. We are interested in recording the experiences of individuals whose stories are not well documented.





How can I nominate someone to be interviewed by Densho?

You may fill out a short interview nomination form and submit it by mail, fax, or email info@densho.org. See Densho’s criteria for selecting interviewees (or narrators).

Download Interview Nomination Form [pdf] [word]
Download Densho Criteria for Narrator Selection [pdf]





Can I pay Densho to video record the oral history of a friend or family member?

As a nonprofit organization, Densho relies on grants and donations to support our operating costs. We do not have a policy of producing individuals’ interviews for a fee.





Can community organizations pay Densho to video record oral histories?

Densho works with other nonprofit organizations and volunteer groups who have the resources to preserve their communities’ life stories. For more information, contact us at info@densho.org and ask about our Community Partner program.





Who owns the completed interview and who can view it?

After reviewing their interview tape, interviewees sign a release form. Densho retains copyright to the video interview and transcript. The video life histories are entered in the Densho Digital Archive and are made available to archive users for educational purposes.





If you do not interview my nominee, can you tell me how to record my own interview?

Please see our “Resources for Conducting an Oral History” Interview section below.





Can you help me contact one of the people you interviewed?

We honor the confidentiality of our interviewees. If you would like to communicate with a particular person in our Digital Archive, you may send your request and contact information to info@densho.org or call 206-320-0095. If possible, we will forward your request to the person, and they can choose to respond.





Can you recommend good video and photos on the topic I am researching?

We encourage researchers to use the topics list and Search function of our Digital Archives and Repository to find suitable interview clips and photos.





Can you provide a former detainee or other person who will talk to my class or group about the World War II experience of Japanese Americans?

Densho does not have a speakers bureau. We cannot send former detainees or other speakers to your group. Depending on where you live, you could contact the regional Japanese American civic or cultural organization or Nisei veterans chapter for potential speakers.





Can Densho connect me with a former detainee or veteran I can interview or ask to fill out a questionnaire for my history project?

Densho interviewees donated their life stories to Densho for preservation and education. We do not have permission to arrange for interviewing or researching by others. Depending on where you live, you could contact the regional Japanese American civic or cultural organization or Nisei veterans chapter for possible interviewees.





Can you recommend ideas for class excursions in my area?

For sites of interest in your area, you could consult your local history museum, historical society, or public library reference desk for suggestions.





What sort of photos are in the Densho Digital Archive?

The Densho Digital Archive and Repository contain diverse historical photographs from institutional and private collections. Photographs date from early immigration in the 1880s to redress in the 1980s and beyond. Visit the Densho Archives page to learn more about our archival holdings.





What sort of documents are in the Densho Digital Archive?

Documents include government reports and communications, paperwork from the incarceration camps, personal letters, diaries, and artwork. Also in the archive are newspapers from all ten War Relocation Authority Camps.





Do I need to register before accessing the Archive?

No. Simply log in as a guest for complete access to our archives.





Are you still collecting photos and documents?

Yes, Densho continues to scan and digitize historical photos and papers that document the World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans and related issues.





Can I donate my photos, documents, and artifacts to Densho

Densho does not collect physical photographs, documents, or objects. We scan photos and papers, occasionally photograph artifacts, and return the originals to the donor. If you have materials you believe would be appropriate for our collections, please fill out a short photo and document suggestion form and submit it by mail, fax, or email collections@densho.org.

Download Photo and Document Suggestion Form [pdf] [word]





Resources for Conducting an Oral History Interview

How do I conduct my own oral history interview?

Web Resources

  • Moyer, Judith. Step by Step Guide to Oral History, 1999. [ link ]
  • Oral History Workshop on the Web (Baylor University, Institute for Oral History)
  • Oral History Association (OHA) (Website includes information about oral history, links to many other sites, and resources)
  • Shopes, Linda. “Making Sense of Oral History.” Downloadable manual on interpreting oral history, available from George Mason University, History Matters: The U.S. Survey on the Web, Making Sense of Evidence series, February 2002. [ link ]
  • Smithsonian Institution Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. “Smithsonian Folklore and Oral History Interviewing Guide.” [ link ]

Print Publications

  • MacKay, Nancy. Curating Oral Histories: From Interview to Archive. Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press, 2007. [ link ]
  • “Oral History for the Family Historian: A Basic Guide.” Linda Barnickel 2006. Provides practical guidance to the novice who wishes to conduct a family oral history interview. It is designed to help the interviewer/researcher avoid common mistakes by effectively planning, conducting, and preserving a family oral history interview. It also contains an extensive list of sample questions, a legal release form, and other suggested resources. [ link ]
  • “Oral History and the Law” by John A. Neuenschwander 2002. 3rd edition. A completely new revision of an Oral History Association best-seller which provides an introduction to the many legal issues relating to oral history practice. This edition looks at the latest case law and how new technologies, such as videotaping, pose new problems. Appendices contain sample legal forms and copyright forms. Written for the layperson. [ link ]
  • “Oral History Projects in Your Classroom.” Linda P. Wood, with introduction by Marjorie L. McLellan, 2001. Bibliography. This guide, written for classroom teachers, includes sample forms, handouts, numerous examples, curriculum suggestions and discussion questions, taken directly from real-life classroom oral history projects around the country. [ link ]
  • “Using Oral History in Community History Projects.” Laurie Mercier & Madeline Buckendorf 1992. Offers concrete suggestions for planning, organizing, and undertaking oral history in community settings. Provides a step-by-step guide to project planning and establishing project objectives, with suggestions about identifying resources and securing funding. The authors address common problems encountered in executing such projects, and present a series of case studies of successful community oral history projects. Bibliography. [ link ]





About the Technical Requirements

What hardware and software do I need to use the Densho Digital Archive?

Web Browser Software
For the best experience in the Archive, Densho recommends Mozilla Firefox or Microsoft Internet Explorer running on either Microsoft Windows 2000/XP or MacOS 10. Although not required, we also recommend XGA (1024×768) or higher screen resolution.

Javascript and Cookies
To use the Archive, you must have Javascript enabled in your browser. You also must have cookies enabled. (A “cookie” is a small data file that Densho places on your machine in order to save some information about your preferences. For more information about cookies and your privacy, see Terms of Use & Privacy Policy.)

Multimedia Software
The Archive uses technologies called “streaming” and “progressive download” to deliver audio and video clips. These technologies allow you to watch or listen to the presentation without having to wait for the entire file (which is usually quite large) to be transferred onto your machine.

There are several different formats popular on the Internet today. In the Densho Digital Archive, we use Adobe’s Flash Media format. To view or listen to the clips in the Archive, you must have the Adobe Flash Player. Adobe has a free player version available for Windows and Macintosh machines that you can download using the link below:

Get Adobe Flash Player

Get Adobe Flash Player
If you are not sure whether the player will work on your computer, please read the technical requirements at Adobe’s website before downloading.

In addition to streaming video and digitized photos, some of the digital items in the Densho Digital Archive are in Adobe’s Portable Document Format, or PDF. To view these documents you must have the Adobe Acrobat Reader. Adobe has a free version available for Windows and Macintosh machines that you can download using the link below:

Get Adobe Reader

Internet Connection and Bandwidth
Streaming media technologies deliver the audio and video information to your computer as the media is actually playing, therefore, the speed or “bandwidth” of your connection to the Internet is very important. In order to view Densho videos, you must have “broadband” Internet service (e.g., cable modem, DSL or other >256kbs connection). You can listen to the audio-only versions of Densho media with a regular dial-up modem connection.

Sometimes, even with a high-speed connection, the quality of your experience may not be as you would expect. The video might appear blurry, the audio might skip or the player may stop and report that it is “buffering”. Often, these problems are due to network congestion, and may resolve themselves if you simply try back later.

Note to Educators
If you are accessing the Archive from your school, we strongly recommend speaking with the person responsible for information technology (e.g., Instructional Technology Coordinator) before using audio or video clips in a classroom lesson. While the Archive uses standard Internet technologies, your school or district may have set up your software, computers or network connections in a manner that will require special configuration.





How to Cite Densho

When using Densho interviews and photographs, please include the following information for proper citation. The exact format used will vary depending on the citation style chosen (e.g., MLA, Chicago, APA, etc.) and whether it appears in footnotes or a bibliography. However, the pieces of information described below should always be included. In general, the first citation will follow the long format and subsequent citations will follow the short format.

Interviews

Long format:

<Narrator full name>, interview by <interviewer full name>, <interview date>, <interview collection (if other than Densho)>, Densho.

example:

Frank Emi, interview by Frank Abe, February 23, 1993, Frank Abe Collection, Densho.

Short format:

<Narrator last name>, interview by <interviewer last name>, <interview date>, <collection>, Densho.

example:

Emi, interview by Abe, 2/23/93, Frank Abe Collection, Densho.


For placement on an acknowledgement page, please use:

Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project is a digital archive of videotaped interviews, photographs, documents, and other materials relating to the Japanese American experience. Additional information on the project is available at www.densho.org





Photographs and Images

<Title> (<Densho ID>), Densho, <Collection Name>.

example:

“Boy Scout Camping Trip” (ddr-densho-15-1), Densho, the Mitsuoka Family Collection.





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