The Bancroft Library has recently completed the digitization of nearly 150,000 items related to the confinement of Japanese Americans during World War II as part of a two-year effort to select, prepare, and digitize these primary source records as part of a grant supported by the National Park Service’s Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant Program. This program helps to support the preservation and interpretation of U.S. confinement sites where Japanese Americans were detained during World War II. This recent project, The Japanese American Internment Sites: A Digital Archive, represents our fourth grant from this program, which together have culminated in over 530,000 primary resource materials being made available online.
The project focused on the U.S. War Relocation Authority (WRA) files from the Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Records (BANC MSS 67/14 c). The WRA was created in 1942 to assume jurisdiction over the incarceration of Japanese Americans during the war. Between 1942-1946, the agency managed the relocation centers, administered an extensive resettlement program, and oversaw the details of the registration and segregation programs. These newly digitized records from the Washington Office headquarters and the district, field, and regional offices, formally document WRA management of internment of Japanese Americans in “relocation” centers and resettlement of approved individuals under supervision in the eastern states. Digitized materials document the registration of individuals; disturbances such as strikes; policies and attitudes; daily life in the camps including educational and employment programs; correspondences and other writings by evacuees; Japanese American service in the armed forces; and public opinion.
Since 2011, the Bancroft has been awarded four grants from the National Park Service’s Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant Program. The previous grants have digitized records from the Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Study and archival collections selected from individual internee’s personal papers, photographs, maps, artworks, and audiovisual materials. The Bancroft’s Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement: A Digital Archive website (http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/collections/jacs) brings together all the digitized content and the recently published LibGuide (https://guides.lible.berkeley.edu/internment) that explains how to use and access these collection resources.
As we now embark on our recently awarded fifth grant from this program, we look forward to bringing even more collections online to support researcher access. We are honored and grateful to be able to make these important resources available to help interpret this period in American history and to preserve them for future generations.
The project was led by digital project archivist Lucy Hernandez and principal investigator Mary Elings, Assistant Director of Bancroft and Head of Technical Services. Special thanks to Julie Musson, digital collections archivist at Bancroft and Jennafer Prongos, BackStage Library Works technician for their work on this project, as well as support from Theresa Salazar, Bancroft curator of Western Americana. Many thanks to the Library Information Technology group at the University Library for their work in managing the files, maintaining the information systems used in the project, and ensuring the publication and long term preservation of the digitized collections through our partnership with the California Digital Library.
This project was funded, in part, by a grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant Program. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of the Interior.