Densho gets federal grant for archive of Japanese American internment

Two children in the Minidoka concentration camp in Idaho, where most Japanese Americans from Washington were send. (Photo courtesy of the Wing Luke Asian Museum, the Hatate Collection)
Two children in the Minidoka concentration camp in Idaho, where most Japanese Americans from Washington were sent. (Photo courtesy of the Wing Luke Asian Museum, the Hatate Collection)

Seattle-based organization Densho will get $368,000 this year to enhance its programs on the history of Japanese-American incarceration during World War II.

The National Park Service this week announced 20 grants totaling more than $2.8 million to organizations across the country to help preserve and interpret the World War II confinement sites of Japanese Americans. Densho, which also received a grant from the program last year, was issued two of the grants.

Densho will get $237,000 to enhance its publicly available digital archive of documentation, information and photos from the Japanese internment, according to the National Park Service, which administered the grant. Not only does Densho’s archive include historical documents, but Densho also has collected first-person video interviews of people who were incarcerated — some as children— during that time.

The organization will also get $132,000 to partner with the Holocaust Center for Humanity, the Northwest African American Museum, and a local indigenous community organization to create an educational curriculum on the Japanese American incarceration. Part of this grant is to hold training workshops on the curriculum for classroom teachers.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor by Japan, President Franklin Roosevelt ordered more than 120,000 Japanese Americans out of their homes and into internment camps. Many of the Japanese Americans lost their homes, businesses and other property after the order.

In Washington state, about 13,000 Japanese Americans were incarcerated and sent to camp Minidoka, near Hunt, Idaho. The incarceration order remained for four years, and it wasn’t until 1988 when federal lawmakers acknowledged that the Japanese American internment was unjustified.

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