Densho eNews - February

From the Director: Tom Ikeda

After we sent an announcement of job openings a few weeks ago, some of you asked, "Why is Densho adding staff now?" The answer is that we have exciting plans for 2010 and want to grow with skilled, committed individuals who can help us compete for attention in our information-saturated society. Over the last 14 years we created on our website the largest and most comprehensive digital collection of first-person testimonies, historical photos, documents, and newspapers about the World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans. We have done this with a small core staff of six. The collection is huge, growing faster each year, and is used by thousands as an educational resource.

But our goal is more than just collecting and preserving primary sources for future generations. We want to touch and inspire tens of millions a year with the story of the World War II Japanese American experience and its cautionary lesson of how groups are targeted during times of crisis and fear. In order to accomplish these goals, we hope to add a few new energetic, smart, and talented staff members to our team.

Adding staff is possible because of the generous support of so many of you. We appreciate every donor and every gift, no matter the amount. The thousands of donations we've received over the years collectively make a huge difference. Even during these difficult times your support has continued and even grown. We thank our donors by making sure their precious dollars are used wisely, strategically, and with maximum impact.

In addition to annual donations, Densho received its first ever planned gift: $42,000 from the estate of Peggie Nishimura Bain. We will use some of this money to update our aging computer and network infrastructure that has been around for over ten years! The rest will go towards capturing more Nisei stories.

I always like to hear from our supporters. Drop me a line at [email protected] and let me know what you think of Densho's plans.

>> 2010 job opportunities at Densho

From the Archive

History, Memory, and the Japanese American Citizens League

"The JACL focused more of their attention on loyalty and made that a litmus paper test… If you protested the evacuation itself, you had questionable loyalty. If you protested…actions that prevailed in the camps, you could be construed as disloyal. If you didn't go into the military service readily, you were disloyal."
   -- Art Hansen

Last month's eNews article examined Japanese American responses to registration, a process implemented by the government to measure the loyalties of the incarcerated population. While controversies surrounding the "loyalty questionnaire" continued to haunt the community in the years after the war, the government's imposition of loyalty categories has been soundly critiqued, most notably in Personal Justice Denied, the report of the Commission on Wartime Internment and Relocation of Civilians. Most would now share Professor Roger Daniels' assertion that the "loyalty questionnaire" was "stupid and counterproductive." Yet, why does the issue of loyalty remain so divisive in the Japanese American community even today? This article looks at a painful and contentious aspect of the wartime experience - the role of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) in crafting what scholar Eiichiro Azuma calls a "master narrative" of Japanese American history. This narrative, actively promoted by the JACL, constructed an image of Japanese Americans as superpatriotic and unwavering in their support of the United States - the "quiet Americans" as one Nisei author put it. Not an expose or attack on the organization, this article instead explores the process of history making and attempts to understand why, after seventy years, the Japanese American community has yet to fully reckon with the legacies of the incarceration.

>> Read more of this article

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Densho News

C-SPAN to Broadcast Densho Interviews

Beginning in February, the C-SPAN cable channel will broadcast selected video interviews from the Densho Digital Archive. C-SPAN 3 American History TV airs weekly from 10am ET on Saturday to 10am ET on Monday. The series features discussions with authors and historians as well as first-person accounts of American history. To be broadcast from the Densho collection are interviews with Norman Mineta, former Secretary of Transportation (Feb. 20), Roy Ebihara, detained at Old Raton Ranch, New Mexico, and Topaz, Utah (Feb. 21, 27), and Lucius Horiuchi, a career diplomat with the Department of State (Part I, Feb. 28). The oral histories usually air around 3 p.m. and 9 p.m., and then again at 3 a.m. and 9 a.m. the following day. Additional Densho interviews will be broadcast in the coming months.

>> View C-Span 3 American History videos

Major Bequest and Planned Giving

Densho has received a much appreciated bequest from the estate of Peggie Nishimura Bain, who generously supported our work during her lifetime. Please consider including Densho in your will. A bequest is the simplest way to make a deferred gift, but there are many forms of planned giving. Ask your financial or legal advisor or contact Densho about options that suit your fiscal and philanthropic goals. You can make a lasting gift to support Densho's mission that also provides you with tax and income benefits. Thank you for thinking of Densho in your planned giving.

>> Contact Densho about a deferred gift

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Archive Spotlight

Yuri Kochiyama: Asian American Activist for All

Densho recently interviewed the celebrated civil rights activist Yuri Kochiyama, who has devoted her life to promoting equal rights for all races and oppressed people. As a girl, she described herself as being completely ignorant of American history, not even knowing about slavery in the United States. Her education in discrimination against others besides Japanese Americans began when she left the Jerome, Arkansas, incarceration camp to work in Mississippi. In an excerpt from her interview, Kochiyama describes meeting Malcolm X in 1963 in Harlem, where she was working with various social justice groups. This interview was made possible by the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program, managed by the California State Library.

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

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National News and Events

Day of Remembrance Lectures at University of Washington

To commemorate the signing of Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942, which set in motion the mass removal and detention of Japanese Americans, the University of Washington American Ethnic Studies Department presents a free Day of Remembrance program. On February 26, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., at Kane Hall, two visiting scholars will speak on the topic "Impact of World War II on Japanese Americans and Japanese Canadians: Comparative and Contemporary Perspectives." The speakers are Greg Robinson, Associate Professor, Universite du Quebec a Montreal, and Masako Iino, Professor and President, Tsuda College, Tokyo, Japan. Lecture attendees will have the opportunity to talk with the speakers at a post-event reception.

>> Read more information

Manzanar Groundbreaking Ceremony

The National Park Service (NPS), Friends of Manzanar, and Manzanar History Association invite the public to attend a barracks groundbreaking event at 1 p.m., Saturday, February 13. In 1997, in consultation with the Manzanar Advisory Commission, former internees, historians, and others, the NPS approved the development of Block 14 as a "demonstration block" to interpret daily life in the camp. Barracks 1 will appear as it would have when Japanese Americans first arrived at the California camp in 1942. Barracks 8 will be reconstructed to represent barracks life in 1945, showing how detainees had worked to improve their surroundings. The events are free and open to the public. Manzanar National Historic Site is located along U.S. Highway 395, six miles south of Independence, California, and nine miles north of Lone Pine.

>> Read more information

Honor and Sacrifice: Nisei Patriots in the MIS

The Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community has produced a documentary about the Nisei men who were incarcerated in concentration camps, enlisted in the U.S. military, and volunteered to become linguists in the Military Intelligence Service in the Pacific Theater of World War II. The film focuses on the experience of Roy Matsumoto and his personal journey--from being born an American, raised in Japan, sent to Jerome, Arkansas, concentration camp as a young man, to enlisting in the U.S. Army and becoming a hero in fighting the Japanese Army in Burma as part of the U.S. military unit known as Merrill's Marauders. Also featured in the documentary is Grant Hirabayashi, another MIS veteran. The video is accompanied by a curriculum unit.

>> View the documentary

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