Densho eNews - January

From the Director: Tom Ikeda

Densho had an extremely productive 2008. We visited six communities and added added 68 video-recorded, transcribed oral histories and 1,407 photos and documents to our collection. We also distributed hundreds of detailed, standards-based classroom lessons to teachers throughout the state of Washington on the topics of constitutional issues, evaluation of primary sources, and immigration.

I am looking forward to the coming year with hope and optimism. Densho plans to add 70 or more interviews and hundreds of new photos to our web collection by visiting six to eight more communities around the country. With a team of classroom teachers, we will conduct a thorough evaluation of our education materials, and we will adapt our Washington State education program to expand into Idaho.

All of this important work would not be possible without the generous support of individual donors. In last month's eNews, I asked people to consider donating to Densho. In the three weeks following that request, we have received over $52,000. Although such a strong show of support during these difficult economic times is inspiring, it is also urgently needed, as the window of opportunity to preserve the experiences of Japanese Americans during World War II is closing. If you haven't yet done so, please send a donation today to Densho, 1416 S. Jackson, Seattle WA 98144 or donate online with your credit card.

Thank you and Happy New Year!

Densho News

Free Teacher Workshop: Teaching with Social Studies CBAs

There is still room for teachers who want to receive free training in using innovative social studies lessons aligned with Washington State Classroom Based Assessments (CBAs). At a workshop on Saturday, January 10, at our Seattle office, Densho will present new history and civics lessons that include primary sources drawn from Densho's collection of interviews, photos, and documents. The workshop will introduce curriculum units for elementary, middle, and high school on constitutional issues, immigration history, and critical assessment of the media. This free workshop runs from 10am to 1pm. Please join us for a rewarding group discussion with fellow educators.

>> Request more information or register for the workshop
>> View the Civil Liberties curriculum

Saving History: Rare Redress Hearings Tapes Restored

With funding from a 4Culture Collections Care Grant, Densho has salvaged the only known videotapes of the 1981 Seattle hearings held by the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CWRIC), the congressional committee whose findings led to redress and a presidential apology for the World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans. We converted 16 hours of testimonies from an obsolete VHS format to digital files that will eventually be entered in the Densho Digital Archive for public viewing. Among the individuals who testified in Seattle (one of ten cities where the CWRIC held hearings) were Walt Woodward, editor of the Bainbridge Island Review, and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Floyd Schmoe, as well as numerous community leaders who have since passed away. Densho is grateful to the late Cherry Kinoshita, a tireless advocate for redress and remembrance, for donating the tapes to Densho.

>> View a clip from the redress hearings
>> Read about the 4Culture Collections Care grant

Densho Poll: For Your Reading Pleasure

At the start of the new year, we ask what you would like to read in the coming months in the Densho eNews. In the survey, please let us know which aspects you enjoy most, which are less valuable to you, and what additional features you'd like to see. We value your opinions and ideas for future points of focus.

Last month's Densho poll, a vote on a short (and admittedly arbitrary) list of Japanese American artists, yielded these favorites: first, Roger Shimomura; a close second, George Tsutakawa; third, Isamu Noguchi. Readers posted thoughtful comments about artists both in and outside of the poll. To read the comments -- and see illustrations of the artists' work -- see the Densho blog.

>> Take the January Densho poll
>> See the Densho blog for readers' comments on Japanese American artists

to top

New to the Archive

Look Inside the Archive: Topaz Museum Interviews

This year Densho conducted seven video interviews in partnership with the Salt Lake City-based Topaz Museum. We recently added the collection to the Densho Digital Archive. One of the Topaz interviewees is Helen Harano Christ, a retired school teacher. Christ was taken from her home in Berkeley, California, to the Tanforan Assembly Center before being detained at Topaz, Utah. After the war she worked in Nebraska and joined in the school desegregation efforts of the 1960s.

>> See the featured sample from the Densho Digital Archive
>> Register for the free Densho Digital Archive

to top

National News and Events

Tule Lake Declared a National Monument

On December 5, just before Pearl Harbor Day, President Bush signed a bill declaring the formation of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument. The monument includes nine historic sites that represent various aspects of the war in the Pacific. Tule Lake, in northern California, was the largest and longest running of the War Relocation Authority camps. The site is historically significant for detaining Japanese Americans designated as disloyal after the flawed loyalty registration of 1943. The historic monument status is the result of a grassroots effort by the Tule Lake Committee, Japanese American Citizens League, National Park Service, and others. Roy Ikeda, chair of the Tule Lake Committee says, "The designation of the Tule Lake Segregation Center as a National Monument creates the opportunity to educate the public of this disgraceful chapter of our history and to remind us all of what can happen when we and our government sacrifice our democratic principles under the guise of national security."

>> Read the Tule Lake Committee press release

to top