Archive Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

[link to this page]
About the Densho Interview Process
About Contacting an Interviewee
About the Densho Photo and Document Collection
Using Densho Content
Resources for Conducting an Oral History Interview
About the Technical Requirements
About Registering for the Archive

About the Densho Interview Process

Is Densho still interviewing people?

Densho continues to selectively collect the life histories of Japanese Americans and others who can speak about the World War II incarceration. See "About the Densho Photo and Document Collection" below for more information.

How do you select people to interview?

Densho is collecting life stories to represent a wide range of perspectives and experiences from a diverse geographic range. Densho does not have the resources to interview all candidates. We are interested in recording the experiences of individuals whose stories are not well documented.

How can I nominate someone to be interviewed by Densho?

You may fill out a short interview nomination form and submit it by mail, fax, or email [email protected] See Densho's criteria for selecting interviewees (or narrators).

Download Interview Nomination Form [pdf] [word]
Download Densho Criteria for Narrator Selection [pdf]

Can I pay Densho to video record the oral history of a friend or family member?

As a nonprofit organization, Densho relies on grants and donations to support our operating costs. We do not have a policy of producing individuals' interviews for a fee.

Can community organizations pay Densho to video record oral histories?

Who owns the completed interview and who can view it?

After reviewing their interview tape, interviewees sign a release form. Densho retains copyright to the video interview and transcript. The video life histories are entered in the online Densho Digital Archive and are made available to registered archive users for educational purposes.

If you do not interview my nominee, can you tell me how to record my own interview?

About Contacting an Interviewee

Can you help me contact one of the people you interviewed?

Can you recommend good video and photos on the topic I am researching?

We encourage researchers to use the topics list and Search function of the Digital Archive to find suitable interview clips and photos. Selected photos and video clips from the Digital Archive can be previewed in Densho website features such as "Sites of Shame." You can then call up the item by searching for the Densho ID number found in captions: for example, denshopd-i150-00091.

Can you provide a former detainee or other person who will talk to my class or group about the World War II experience of Japanese Americans?

Densho does not have a speakers bureau. We cannot send former detainees or other speakers to your group. Depending on where you live, you could contact the regional Japanese American civic or cultural organization or Nisei veterans chapter for potential speakers.

Can Densho connect me with a former detainee or veteran I can interview or ask to fill out a questionnaire for my history project?

Densho interviewees donated their life stories to Densho for preservation and education. We do not have permission to arrange for interviewing or researching by others. Depending on where you live, you could contact the regional Japanese American civic or cultural organization or Nisei veterans chapter for possible interviewees.

Can you recommend ideas for class excursions in my area?

For sites of interest in your area, you could consult your local history museum, historical society, or public library reference desk for suggestions.

About the Densho Photo and Document Collection

What sort of photos are in the Densho Digital Archive?

The Densho Digital Archive contains diverse historical photographs from institutional and private collections. Photographs date from early immigration in the 1880s to redress in the 1980s and beyond. Subjects are families, businesses, the incarceration camps, military service,

What sort of documents are in the Densho Digital Archive?

Documents include government reports and communications, paperwork from the incarceration camps, personal letters, diaries, and artwork. Also in the archive are newspapers from all ten War Relocation Authority Camps.

Are you still collecting photos and documents?

Yes, Densho continues to scan and digitize historical photos and papers that document the World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans and related issues.

Can I donate my photos, documents, and artifacts to Densho?

Densho does not collect physical photographs, documents, or objects. We scan photos and papers, occasionally photograph artifacts, and return the originals to the donor. If you have materials you believe would be appropriate for the Digital Archive, please fill out a short photo and document suggestion form and submit it by mail, fax, or email [email protected].

Download Photo and Document Suggestion Form [pdf] [word]

Using Densho Content

How do I request Densho photos, documents and video for my project?

Resources for Conducting an Oral History Interview

How do I conduct my own oral history interview?

Web Resources

  • Sample Densho Oral History Interview Questions
  • Moyer, Judith. Step by Step Guide to Oral History, 1999. [ link ]
  • Oral History Workshop on the Web (Baylor University, Institute for Oral History)
  • Oral History Association (OHA) (Website includes information about oral history, links to many other sites, and resources)
  • Shopes, Linda. "Making Sense of Oral History." Downloadable manual on interpreting oral history, available from George Mason University, History Matters: The U.S. Survey on the Web, Making Sense of Evidence series, February 2002. [ link ]
  • Smithsonian Institution Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. "Smithsonian Folklore and Oral History Interviewing Guide." [ link ]
Print Publications
  • MacKay, Nancy. Curating Oral Histories: From Interview to Archive. Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press, 2007. [ link ]
  • "Oral History for the Family Historian: A Basic Guide." Linda Barnickel 2006. Provides practical guidance to the novice who wishes to conduct a family oral history interview. It is designed to help the interviewer/researcher avoid common mistakes by effectively planning, conducting, and preserving a family oral history interview. It also contains an extensive list of sample questions, a legal release form, and other suggested resources. [ link ]
  • "Oral History and the Law" by John A. Neuenschwander 2002. 3rd edition. A completely new revision of an Oral History Association best-seller which provides an introduction to the many legal issues relating to oral history practice. This edition looks at the latest case law and how new technologies, such as videotaping, pose new problems. Appendices contain sample legal forms and copyright forms. Written for the layperson. [ link ]
  • "Oral History Projects in Your Classroom." Linda P. Wood, with introduction by Marjorie L. McLellan, 2001. Bibliography. This guide, written for classroom teachers, includes sample forms, handouts, numerous examples, curriculum suggestions and discussion questions, taken directly from real-life classroom oral history projects around the country. [ link ]
  • "Using Oral History in Community History Projects." Laurie Mercier & Madeline Buckendorf 1992. Offers concrete suggestions for planning, organizing, and undertaking oral history in community settings. Provides a step-by-step guide to project planning and establishing project objectives, with suggestions about identifying resources and securing funding. The authors address common problems encountered in executing such projects, and present a series of case studies of successful community oral history projects. Bibliography. [ link ]

About the Technical Requirements

What hardware and software do I need to use the Densho Digital Archive?

Web Browser Software

For the best experience in the Archive, Densho recommends Mozilla Firefox or Microsoft Internet Explorer running on either Microsoft Windows 2000/XP or MacOS 10. Although not required, we also recommend XGA (1024x768) or higher screen resolution.

Javascript and Cookies

To use the Archive, you must have Javascript enabled in your browser. You also must have cookies enabled. (A "cookie" is a small data file that Densho places on your machine in order to save some information about your preferences. For more information about cookies and your privacy, see Terms of Use & Privacy Policy.)

Multimedia Software

The Archive uses technologies called "streaming" and "progressive download" to deliver audio and video clips. These technologies allow you to watch or listen to the presentation without having to wait for the entire file (which is usually quite large) to be transferred onto your machine.

There are several different formats popular on the Internet today. In the Densho Digital Archive, we use Adobe's Flash Media format. To view or listen to the clips in the Archive, you must have the Adobe Flash Player. Adobe has a free player version available for Windows and Macintosh machines that you can download using the link below:

If you are not sure whether the player will work on your computer, please read the technical requirements at Adobe's website before downloading.

In addition to streaming video and digitized photos, some of the digital items in the Densho Digital Archive are in Adobe's Portable Document Format, or PDF. To view these documents you must have the Adobe Acrobat Reader. Adobe has a free version available for Windows and Macintosh machines that you can download using the link below:

Internet Connection and Bandwidth

Streaming media technologies deliver the audio and video information to your computer as the media is actually playing, therefore, the speed or "bandwidth" of your connection to the Internet is very important. In order to view Densho videos, you must have "broadband" Internet service (e.g., cable modem, DSL or other >256kbs connection). You can listen to the audio-only versions of Densho media with a regular dial-up modem connection.

Sometimes, even with a high-speed connection, the quality of your experience may not be as you would expect. The video might appear blurry, the audio might skip or the player may stop and report that it is "buffering". Often, these problems are due to network congestion, and may resolve themselves if you simply try back later.

Note to Educators

If you are accessing the Archive from your school, we strongly recommend speaking with the person responsible for information technology (e.g., Instructional Technology Coordinator) before using audio or video clips in a classroom lesson. While the Archive uses standard Internet technologies, your school or district may have set up your software, computers or network connections in a manner that will require special configuration.

About Registering for the Archive

Does it cost money to register?

No. Registration is completely free thanks to the support of the many organizations, companies, and individuals who generously donate to Densho.

Am I allowed to register if I am under 18?

Yes, but please ask your parent or guardian for permission. If you are under 18, you will not be able to sign up for the Densho regular mailing list.

Remember that you should never give information about yourself to anyone without letting your parents know first. To learn more about how to protect yourself on-line, see the US FTC's Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) FAQ website.

If I am a teacher, may I register my whole class?

Yes. We ask that you notify us beforehand, and if you could share some details about how you plan to use the website we'd really appreciate it! We are very interested in hearing about your experience with the materials so that we can serve educators better.

Do I have to have an email address in order to have an account?

Yes. Your email address serves as the main way for us to contact you.

Why do you need my city, state and country information to register on-line?

Some of the foundations and governmental organizations that provide grants to support Densho require us to show that we are serving certain geographic regions. However, we only use this information in aggregate; we do not share any personally-identifying information with our grantors or anyone else. For example, in a grant application, we might say, "Densho has more than 1000 registered users in Whatcom County, Washington." For further details about how Densho collects and uses information related to your account, see our Privacy Policy.

What else does Densho do with my registration and mailing information? What is your privacy policy?

Densho does not sell, rent, swap or otherwise disclose any Personal Information to third parties. If Densho is required to disclose information collected from our members in response to any legal process issued by a court, Densho will comply with the legal process after giving notice to any members affected by it unless a court order prohibits such notice. Our full Privacy Policy and Terms of Use are located here. The Archive Usage Application is available as a downloadable PDF here.

How long will it take to activate my account?

Ordinarily, a Densho staff member will review and approve your application within 1 - 2 business days. If you do not receive a confirmation email within several working days of submitting your application, please contact us. Some email spam filters will incorrectly identify the welcome message as unsolicited email; please check the spam folder or logs in your email program before contacting us.

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