In the wake of inmate unrest at Poston and Manazanar in the winter of 1942, the War Relocation Authority decided they needed to better understand what they dubbed a “trouble pattern” emerging in WWII concentration camps. By early 1943, they had formed the Community Analysis Section to study the population of Japanese American incarcerees.
Early in the morning on August 6, 1945, an American warplane cut through the cloudless sky over Hiroshima and dropped a single, devastating bomb, obliterating the hospital directly below the “Little Boy’s” path and much of the surrounding city. Three days later, as Hiroshima still burned, a second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. At least 100,000 people were killed instantly in both attacks, and many more died of blast injuries or radiation sickness in the weeks and months that followed.
In July 1981, congressional hearings on Japanese American WWII incarceration began in the nation’s capitol. For two days, witnesses spoke out to expose the cruel facts and painful memories surrounding this history, and to lend their voices to a growing call for reparations. It was the first of eleven hearings that would make their way across the country, culminating in an official acknowledgement that the wartime government had acted on racial prejudice rather than “military necessity” — and a recommendation for monetary redress.
Each month, Densho Content Director Brian Niiya will answer your questions about the WWII incarceration of Japanese Americans — the small details of life in camp, the rumors and myths that have become embedded in this history over time, and everything in between. In this edition of “Ask a Historian,” Brian responds to questions about photographers who documented the camp experience and Arizona’s history of anti-Japanese agitation.
High school students (ages 14-18) are invited to join Densho for a hands-on history and zine-making workshop on August 19th, 2021. Drawing upon the lessons handed down to us from our activist elders, we’ll explore the archives of GIDRA, a radical newsletter that served as the voice of the Asian American movement from 1969-74.
Joe Yasutake was only nine years old when his father was apprehended by the FBI and interned as an enemy alien. In a matter of hours following the attack on Pearl Harbor, his peaceful Seattle childhood was replaced with family separation, forced removal, and life inside a series of detention facilities and concentration camps.
As a musician, artist, and activist, Nobuko Miyamoto has long used art to create social change and solidarity across cultural borders. Her new memoir, Not Yo’ Butterfly: My Long Song of Relocation, Race, Love and Revolution, retraces that journey, from her early years in a WWII incarceration camp to her involvement in the Asian American and Black Liberation movements. In this excerpt from Not Yo’ Butterfly, Miyamoto describes joining a group of young Asian American activists on a revelatory trip to the Black Panthers headquarters in Chicago in 1970.
Okaeri is a Los Angeles-based resource and support group whose mission is to create visibility, compassionate spaces, and transformation for LGBTQ+ Nikkei and their families by sharing our stories and providing culturally-rooted support, education, community-building, and advocacy. Okaeri Co-Chairs Stan Yogi, Marsha Aizumi, and Justin Kawaguchi joined Densho Communications and Public Engagement Director Natasha Varner for a Zoom call and subsequent email correspondence to tell us a little more about the work they do.
- How 9/11 Changed Us
- Social Science as a Tool for Surveillance
- Ask a Historian: Where to Find Records on Family Members Sent to DOJ Camps
- Thousands of Japanese Americans Were in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. The US Government Still Won’t Recognize Them.
- Photo Essay: Japanese Americans Demand “Justice Long Overdue” at 1981 Redress Hearings
- after camp
- Ask a Historian
- book review
- camp life
- current events
- Densho statement
- film review
- guest post
- hidden histories
- In memoriam
- open letter
- oral history
- Pacific Northwest
- photo essay
- popular culture
- Redress Movement