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The Miwa family sitting on a couch and smiling, circa 1970s.

Archives Spotlight: The Miwa Family’s Transnational WWII Journey

The James Seigo Miwa Family Collection is a new and fascinating addition to the Densho Digital Repository. It includes family photos and documents relating to Miwa’s detainment as an “enemy…

Collage with a typed poem and photos of fences, inmates, and guards at Japanese American concentration camps.

The Unsolvable Mystery of “That Damned Fence”

The barbed wire fence is an enduring symbol of the WWII incarceration of Japanese Americans. As Hana and Noah Maruyama point out in Episode Three of the Campu podcast, the…

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,…

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…

People gathered around the Manzanar cemetery monument, with barbed wire in the foreground and mountains and dramatic clouds in the distant background.

Photo Essay: The First Manzanar Pilgrimage

On December 27, 1969, an intergenerational group of Issei, Nisei, Sansei, and a few Yonsei made the 220-mile trek from Los Angeles to Manzanar. It was the first organized pilgrimage…

T. K. Pharmacy Was a Lifeline for Incarcerated Japanese Americans during WWII

T. K. Pharmacy was one of few Japanese American businesses that remained open during World War II. Operating out of Denver—outside the so-called “exclusion zone”—it offered a lifeline to Japanese…

Photo Essay: Japanese American History Through the Eyes of Everyday Families

Personal collections are a critical component of Densho’s archives. These collections, donated by families and individuals, provide amazing insights into Japanese American history that might otherwise be forgotten, while allowing…

Commemorating Redress in the Archives

On this anniversary of the signing of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 we’re highlighting some recent additions to Densho’s archives that focus on the Redress Movement. Along with our…

‘It was my first grown-up feeling of responsibility’: Student Views of Life in a Japanese American Concentration Camp

We’re fortunate today to have access to hundreds of testimonies from Nisei elders who were incarcerated as children during WWII. But the perspective captured in these oral histories is that…

Tule Lake Pilgrimage, 1974

In this American Archives Month guest post, Densho Digital Archivist Caitlin Oiye Coon looks at a recently published collection of photos by Gerald Kajitani. The photos document the second pilgrimage…

This is What We Talk About When We Talk About Community Archives

Stereotypes of archivists as bespectacled introverts navigating unending caverns of file cabinets and stacks are largely exaggerated. But it’s true that, as a lot, we generally enjoy our quiet time…

25 Times Gidra Was Goddamn Glorious

From 1969 to 1974, Gidra, the unofficial voice of “the Movement,” chronicled changing tides and unfolding dramas within the Asian American community. Taking its name from a giant three-headed dragon…

“Democracy is for the Unafraid”

As a chronicler of American race relations, writer Chester B. Himes was deeply impacted by the World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans. In his 1945 debut novel, “If He Hollers Let…

Ikeda Family Photo Album

In this guest post, Densho intern Odette Allen traces the story of one family through photos collected in family albums. 

Gidra: Now Available Online

By Brian Niiya, Densho Content Director  During its 1969 to 1974 run, Gidra chronicled the dramatic changes in the Asian American community, and was itself a catalyst for many of these…

Mae Kanazawa Hara and the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair

In this guest post, Sara Beckman demonstrates how pairing oral history with archival materials can lead to rich discoveries about the past. This is the first of three reflections from interns working…

Minidoka Concentration Camp: Looking Back 70 Years Later

The Minidoka concentration camp was located in a remote portion of South Central Idaho’s Snake River Plain and housed approximately 13,000 Japanese Americans during World War II. It closed seventy years…

Photography, Family History, and the Search for Missing Incarcerees: A Q&A with Paul Kitagaki, Jr.

Photographer Paul Kitagaki, Jr.first learned about his family’s World War II-era incarceration in a high school history class in 1970. Later, as a young photojournalist in San Francisco he discovered that one of…

Student Uncovers Family History during Densho Internship

Over the summer, we welcomed Kyle Tanemura as an intern at Densho. Kyle, a junior at California Polytechnic State University majoring in computer sciences, made important contributions to Densho, particularly in…

Segregated Swimming: Oral Histories of Japanese Americans and Public Pools

With the end of summer looming on the horizon, people everywhere are savoring the season’s final days of poolside leisure: seeking the refuge of cool water on a hot afternoon,…

New Partner Collection: Frank C. Hirahara Photographs from the Oregon Nikkei Endowment

Photo Caption: O.N.E. volunteer Betty Jean Harry working with Portland area Nisei at the Oregon Buddhist Temple as they help identify photos from the Frank C. Hirahara Collection. Photo Courtesy…

Loni Ding Collection

We are very pleased to have recently received a collection from the family of acclaimed filmmaker Loni Ding of the raw materials used to make her influential documentaries Nisei Soldier: Standard…

Records about Japanese Americans relocated during World War II

There is an enormous amount of information on the Japanese American removal and incarceration available online even beyond the resources that Densho provides. This abundance is both a blessing and…