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Barracks at Minidoka concentration camp under construction in 1942

Ask a Historian: When Did America Start Building Its WWII Concentration Camps?

Densho Content Director Brian Niiya answers a question about the origin of the concentration camps where Japanese Americans were imprisoned during World War II.

A Japanese American teen performing a flag salute during an Independence Day parade at Tule Lake. She has a big smile and is holding a baton and leading the parade.

Ask a Historian: Why Do Some Survivors Say Camp Was “Fun”?

Densho Content Director Brian Niiya responds to a question from a descendant of the camps who wonders why his Nisei father often shared “happy” memories of the wartime incarceration.

A mother and child walking down a dirt path between barracks at Minidoka concentration camp.

Ask a Historian: How Did Alaska Natives Wind Up Inside Japanese American Concentration Camps?

Brian Niiya delves into the hidden history of a group of Alaska Natives caught up in the WWII incarceration of Japanese Americans in our first “Ask a Historian” entry of…

Mourners standing next to a casket at a funeral in Amache concentration camp

Ask a Historian: What Did Funerals Look Like in Camp?

In this latest query from Densho Content Director Brian Niiya’s “Ask a Historian” series, Shelley Lekven asks what funerals looked like for Japanese Americans incarcerated during World War II: Do…

Japanese Americans reciving typhoid vaccinations while registering for forced removal in 1942.

Ask a Historian: Did Japanese Americans Have Access to Vaccines in WWII Incarceration Camps?

Densho Content Director Brian Niiya answers a question about vaccination efforts in WWII concentration camps from a survivor who experienced them firsthand. Junko Mizuta writes: With the vaccine mandates being…

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…

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.

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…

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…

Japanese Americans waiting in a mess hall line in Manzanar. They are standing and sitting in the shade next to a barrack.

Ask a Historian: How Many Japanese Americans Were Incarcerated During WWII?

Do you have a burning question about Japanese American history? A piece of family lore you’re not sure is myth or fact? Brian Niiya, Densho’s Content Director and basically a…