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A man walking in front of barracks in Manzanar, with mountains in the distance.

Tom Ikeda: My Retirement from Densho

After 26 years at the helm of Densho as the organization’s founding executive director, Tom Ikeda is announcing his pending retirement. Read a message from Tom below—and join us for…

Lauren Iida holding up a memory net paper cut out

Introducing the Memory Net Remembrance Project

In recognition of the 80th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, Densho is launching a new community art initiative: the Memory Net Remembrance Project. In collaboration with Densho resident artist Lauren…

A group of Japanese American friends sitting together and smiling.

Notable Nisei Born 100 Years Ago

One hundred years ago, we were in the midst of a Nisei baby boom, and thus, there are many Nisei whose 100th birthdays deserve some special celebration in 2022. These…

Mess hall staff in Manzanar posing for a group photo

Ask a Historian: Why Were There “Waitresses” in Camp?

In this latest edition of “Ask a Historian,” Densho Content Director Brian Niiya digs into the history behind a photo taken in a mess hall at Topaz concentration camp —and…

Still from short animated film on the model minority myth. Two groups of people, one Black and one Asian, are being contained in two boxes that keep them separated from each other.

Inventing the “Model Minority”: A Critical Timeline and Reading List

The idea of Asian Americans as a “model minority” has a long and complicated history. By focusing on cherry-picked indicators of “success” like income, education level, and low crime rates—while…

Thirteen incarcerees at the Manzanar Children's Village. Original photograph inscription: "Left to right: Sunny, Haracy (?), Tatsue, Shizuko, Kazuye, Susumi, Yetsuko (Yetsudo?), Tadashi, Dickie, Hideko, Kindo (?). Courtesy of the Lawrence de Graaf Center For Oral and Public History, California State University, Fullerton.

Manzanar Children’s Village: Japanese American Orphans in a WWII Concentration Camp

Kenji Suematsu was living with his parents and siblings in Costa Mesa, California at the outbreak of World War II. His father, an immigrant farmer from Japan, was apprehended by…

Yoshiko Uchida signing a book for a young Asian girl while two adults and an older boy look on.

Yoshiko Uchida’s Remarkable—and Underappreciated—Literary Career

I have long been a fan of Yoshiko Uchida, a Berkeley-based writer best known for her children’s and young adult books about the World War II forced removal and incarceration….

The Eagles of Heart Mountain playing a football game in the camp.

Book Review: The Eagles of Heart Mountain

Densho Content Director Brian Niiya reviews The Eagles of Heart Mountain by Bradford Pearson, an entertaining and well-researched popular history of the incarceration told through the story of a group…

Archives Spotlight: Remembering Nisei Veterans

During World War II, thousands of Japanese Americans served in the U.S. military. Nearly 80 years later, as the number of Nisei veterans with firsthand memories of this history dwindles,…

Naomi Hirahara on the Secret Lives of Nisei in Post-WWII Chicago

Award-winning mystery novelist, public historian, and journalist Naomi Hirahara’s new novel, Clark and Division, follows the story of a young woman searching for the truth about her revered older sister’s…

Highlights from Densho’s 25th Anniversary Gala

This past Saturday, we celebrated Densho’s 25th anniversary at a very special event. Nearly 800 households tuned in for a live show featuring music, dance, art, and story. (Don’t worry,…

Brick Floors, a Polio Outbreak, and Other Unique Aspects of Amache Concentration Camp

Amache was one of ten War Relocation Authority camps where Japanese Americans were incarcerated following the forced removal from the West Coast in 1942. Located in southeastern Colorado, it held…

Archives Spotlight: The Seattle Betsuin Buddhist Temple Collections

In honor of American Archives Month, we feature a guest post from Densho Digitization Tech, Christen Greenhill Robichaud. In this essay, Robichaud details her team’s work on an exciting new…

Densho’s Oral History Program Is Back after a Pandemic Pause

Like many oral history projects, we’ve spent much of the last 18 months adapting and adjusting to meet the challenges of the pandemic. Knowing that elders and communities of color…

Displacement and Resistance in Japantowns: A Resource List

Japantowns in the U.S. have been shaped by a long history of both exclusion and resilience — from the dispossession of Indigenous peoples to the forced removal of Japanese Americans…

Ask A Historian: How Did Japanese American Mothers Feed Their Babies in Camp?

Densho Content Director Brian Niiya answers a fascinating question from a 99 year old camp survivor who worked in an “assembly center” milk station providing food for infant incarcerees.

How 9/11 Changed Us

In commemoration of the 20th anniversary of September 11th, Executive Director Tom Ikeda shares his recollections of the aftermath of the attacks and how it radically reshaped Densho’s focus.

Social Science as a Tool for Surveillance

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…

Ask a Historian: Where to Find Records on Family Members Sent to DOJ Camps

In this month’s installment of Ask a Historian, Densho Content Director Brian Niiya advises a reader on how to track down records of Japanese Americans arrested as “enemy aliens” and…

Red tinted photo of a Japanese child looking at a building destroyed in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima

Thousands of Japanese Americans Were in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. The US Government Still Won’t Recognize Them.

Early in the morning on August 8, 1945, an American warplane cut through the cloudless sky over Hiroshima and dropped a single, devastating bomb, obliterating the hospital directly below the…

Several Japanese Americans seated at a table with microphones. Closest to the camera is William Hohri, who is reading a written statement into a microphone.

Photo Essay: Japanese Americans Demand “Justice Long Overdue” at 1981 Redress Hearings

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…

A street in between barracks at Manzanar. A man is sitting on the front steps of a barrack, and another is walking down the street. There are mountains visible in the distance.

Ask a Historian: What’s the Story Behind Ansel Adams’ Famous Manzanar Photos?

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…

Graphic with a collage of photos and artwork from Gidra. Text reads "Truth is not always pretty. A radical history and zine making workshop. August 19, 11am-1pm."

“Truth Is Not Always Pretty”: A Radical History and Zine Making Workshop

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…

Sites of Shame traces the paths of Japanese Americans forced into camps during WWII

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…