Visual History Program

The Densho Digital Repository includes more than 900 visual histories, totaling over 1,700 hours of recorded video interviews. The video interviews are fully transcribed and segmented for ease of viewing.

Densho continues to selectively collect the life histories of Japanese Americans and others who can speak about the World War II incarceration. We collect life stories to represent a wide range of perspectives and experiences from a diverse geographic range. Since Densho does not have the resources to interview all candidates, we are currently able to record the experiences of individuals whose stories are not well documented.

Nominate Someone to be Interviewed

You may fill out a short online interview nomination form:


Or download the Interview Nomination Form [pdf]
Densho Criteria for Narrator Selection [pdf]

Visual History FAQ

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.





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 online interview nomination form or download a print version:
Download Interview Nomination Form [pdf]
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 Repository and are made available to 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 Repository, 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 Repository to find suitable interview clips and photos. We also have a YouTube channel with highlight videos.





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.






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 ]





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