Archives at 15 California State University campuses are collaborating to digitize nearly 10,000 documents and more than 100 oral histories related to the confinement of Japanese Americans during World War II.
The National Park Service just awarded a two-year $321,554 grant to CSU Dominguez Hills, which is serving as the principal investigator for the CSU Japanese American Digitization Project. The project will make these materials available on a CSU-sponsored website and also result in a teaching guide and traveling exhibit for schools and the public.
“It is heartening to have the National Park Service acknowledge the scale and importance of the CSU’s collections,” said CSU Dominguez Hills Director of Archives and Special Collections Greg Williams. “The grant will ensure that this significant part of our history can be studied for generations to come.”
Many campuses throughout the CSU system were located near California’s internment camps and Japanese American communities. Throughout the last half century, their archives, libraries, oral history projects and history departments have collected archival and manuscript materials, objects, and media relating to Japanese internment that have yet to be digitized.
With the grant money, participating CSU archives at Bakersfield, Channel Islands, Dominguez Hills, East Bay, Fresno, Fullerton, Long Beach, Northridge, Sacramento, San Jose, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, San Francisco, and Sonoma will digitize and catalog their records.
The grant was one of 20 awarded by the National Park Service totaling more than $2.8 million to help preserve and interpret the World War II confinement sites of Japanese Americans. More than 120,000 Japanese Americans, two-thirds of whom were American citizens, were imprisoned by the U.S. government following Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
In 1942, an estimated 250 Japanese American students were forced to leave their CSU campuses and relocated to internment camps, under federal Executive Order 9066. In 2009, the CSU Board of Trustees unanimously voted to honor the academic intentions of these students by awarding them special Honorary Bachelor of Humane Letters degrees.
National Park Service Announces $2.8 Million in Grants to Preserve and Interpret World War II Japanese American Confinement Sites
[NATIONAL PARK SERVICE] – National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis today announced 20 grants totaling more than $2.8 million to help preserve and interpret the World War II confinement sites of Japanese Americans. More than 120,000 Japanese Americans, two-thirds of whom were American citizens, were imprisoned by the U.S. government following Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
“As stewards of our nation’s history, the National Park Service recognizes the importance of preserving these confinement sites,” Jarvis said. “They are poignant reminders – today and for future generations – that we must be always vigilant in upholding civil liberties for all. These grants help us share valuable lessons on the fragility of our constitutional rights and ensure the experiences of those who were incarcerated are not forgotten.”
The grants will be used for projects that include a traveling exhibition to tell the lesser known story of the former Tuna Canyon Detention Station in California; the immediate stabilization of a root cellar that incarcerees used to store fruit and vegetables that they raised at Heart Mountain, Wyoming; and the creation of an online archive that will include more than 1,300 digitally scanned documents and photographs related to the former Rohwer incarceration site in Arkansas.
The grant amounts range from $16,000 awarded to the Friends of the Texas Historical Commission, Inc., to research and document a 70-year-old mural that was painted by an internee at the Seagoville Internment Camp (INS Detention Station) in Dallas County, Texas, to $400,000 for New York’s public media station WNET to create “Prisoner in My Homeland,” a series of free online educational video games to engage middle school-age students with the history of Japanese American incarceration during World War II.
The Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant Program, now in its seventh year, will support projects in eight states and the District of Columbia. The grants announced today total $2,845,000 and bring the program’s total awards to more than $18 million since Congress established the grant program in 2006. A total of $38 million in grant funds was authorized for the life of the program.
Grants from the Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant Program can go to the 10 War Relocation Authority centers established in 1942 or to more than 40 other confinement sites. The goal of the program is to teach present and future generations about the injustice of the World War II confinement history and inspire a commitment to equal justice under the law. Successful proposals are chosen through a competitive process that requires applicants to match the grant award with $1 in non-federal funds or “in-kind” contributions for every $2 they receive in federal money.