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Federal grants awarded to help document Japanese American confinement sites from WWII

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Efforts to document confinement sites of Japanese Americans during World War II will receive more than $2.8 million in federal grants this year, including some $480,000 for projects in the Bay Area, the National Parks Service announced Tuesday.

Among the 20 grants awarded throughout the U.S. is $83,875 to the National Japanese American Historical Society in San Francisco for its Camp Digital Archives project, said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis.

That endeavor seeks to digitize about 400 new entries from its collections and upload them to the Japanese American Confinement Sites database hosted by the University of San Francisco’s Gleeson Library Digital Collections website.

The selections will include letters, photographs, oral history transcripts and other personal documents, as well as official documents and manuscripts, related to incarceration and internment sites. The documents will be researched, cataloged,
photographed or scanned onto the website.

It is estimated that more than 120,000 Japanese Americans were imprisoned by the U.S. government following Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

“The confinement irreversibly changed the whole trajectory of Japanese Americans,” said Max Nihei, exhibitions and collections manager of the National Japanese American Historical Society, where the effort to digitize documents and photographs at the historical society began in 2009.

“Most people just lost everything and had to start over,” Nihei said of the confinement period. “Every Japanese American person is affected by this still.”

Another grantee, California State University, will digitize nearly 10,000 documents and more than 100 oral histories related to the confinement of Japanese Americans during World War II.

A consortium of 13 CSU archives will participate in the project, including San Francisco.
For a complete list of grantees and more details about these projects, visit: www.nps.gov/JACS/.

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