Friday, February 6, 2015

Gene Akutsu: The Importance of Speaking Out

During World War II, Gene Akutsu was incarcerated in the Puyallup Assembly Center, Washington, and the Minidoka concentration camp, Idaho. In 1944 he was arrested for resisting the draft and imprisoned at McNeil Island Penitentiary. In this clip, Gene talks about why he thinks it's important to speak up for what you believe. Gene Akutsu's full interview is available in the Densho Digital Archive.

>>View the Archive Spotlight interview excerpt

Thursday, February 5, 2015

2015 Day of Remembrance Events

Note: All events are free and open to the public except as noted. Some may require reservations; see web links for further information. Densho does not endorse these events, but is providing the list for informational purposes only.

Saturday, February 7

Livingston-Merced, California
Day of Remembrance Banquet
Keynote Speaker: Lawson Inada
Sponsor: Livingston-Merced JACL
6 pm, Merced County Fairground, Pavilion Building
Dinner tickets $45 per person 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Chizuko Norton: New Year's Eve at Tule Lake Under Curfew

Chizuko Norton was a teenager during World War II at the Tule Lake concentration camp. In 1943, when the camp was designated a segregation center, a curfew was imposed on camp inmates. In this clip, Chizuko Norton talks about being caught and questioned by an MP on New Year's Eve. Chizuko Norton's full interview is available in the Densho Digital Archive.

>> Read the Densho Encyclopedia article on Segregation and Tule Lake

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Densho Online Giving Challenge Match for December

Earlier this year, Densho received the Vox Populi (Voice of the People) Award from the Oral History Association for our online 800+ oral history collection. Following the announcement of this prestigious national award, the National Park Service approved a $210,000 matching grant for an innovative project to make it easier for teachers and students to download and use Densho's video interviews in the classroom to make documentaries. What this means is that for every dollar you donate, the NPS will contribute two dollars to us. As a thank you, if you donate in December you'll receive a set of five custom first-class postage stamps with an image of the Tule Lake concentration camp. And if you donate $125 or more, you receive your choice of the DVDs, Conscience and the Constitution or The Legacy of Heart Mountain. If you donate $200, you receive both. 

To donate, please visit

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Joseph Frisino: Personal Reaction to the Bombing of Pearl Harbor

Joseph Frisino was serving in the U.S. Army when Pearl Harbor was bombed. He had grown up on the East Coast and, in 1941, struggled with not being able to differentiate between Japanese Americans and the Japanese soldiers who had done the bombing. Joseph Frisino's full interview is available in the Densho Digital Archive.

View the Archive Spotlight interview excerpt

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

New Encyclopedia Articles, November 2014

Having worked in museums and similar organizations for most of the last twenty-five or so years, the work they do is close to my heart. Many museum exhibitions have told parts of the story of the Japanese American wartime exclusion and incarceration, and I've added a new Densho Encyclopedia overview article on that topic, along with separate articles on many of the individual exhibitions. Among the new individual exhibition articles are ones on the influential 1992 art exhibition The View from Within: Japanese American Art from the Internment Camps, 1942–1945, issued to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Executive Order 9066 by the Japanese American National Museum, UCLA Asian American Studies Center and Wight Art Gallery and the much traveled The Art of Gaman: Arts and Crafts from the Japanese American Internment Camps, 1942–1946. These join many previously issued article on earlier exhibitions ranging from Ansel Adam's 1944 exhibition of Manzanar photographs at the Museum of Modern Art to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History's A More Perfect Union: Japanese American & the U.S. Constitution. Many others will appear in subsequent weeks. There has been relatively little examination of these exhibitions over time, so I hope this makes a contribution to our knowledge of the topic. I've also tried to compile as complete a list of exhibitions as possible at the end of the article. If you know any that are missing please feel free to let me know.

Also added are two articles on landmark legal cases involving challenges of the so-called alien land laws after the war, Masaoka v. California and Kenji Namba v. McCourt, both by Greg Robinson. These join Greg's earlier articles on two other land law cases, Oyama v. California and Fujii v. California. Collectively, these challenges, launched in response to increased enforcement of the land laws during and immediately after the war, effectively ended enforcement of the laws that so dramatically affected the status of Japanese Americans. As part of her series of pieces on artists and writers whose work references the incarceration, Patricia Wakida adds pieces on photographers Clem Albers, Masumi Hayashi, Patrick Nagatani.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Tosh Yasutake: Treating Soldiers with "Shell-Shock"

Tosh Yasutake served as a medic with I Company, 442nd Regimental Combat Team. In this clip, he talks about how to treat soldiers, including the medic he replaced, who suffered from "shell-shock." Tosh Yasutake's full interview is available in the Densho Digital Archive.

View the Archive Spotlight interview excerpt
Read the Densho Encyclopedia article on the 442nd Regimental Combat Team