The effects of World War II internment camps on people of Japanese ancestry and Japanese American citizens must not be forgotten. From 1942-1945, approximately 120,000 individuals of Japanese descent were interned in concentration camps in California, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah after President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942. For those internees who are still living, their descendents, and other Americans who want to understand the internment experience, archival records such as those preserved in the Japanese American Archival Collection are the evidence of the abrogation of civil liberties suffered by Japanese Americans during World War II. The Collection also provides valuable insights into the rich and complex culture of Japanese American communities that were established throughout California beginning in the early 1900s and continuing to the present.
Establishment of the Japanese American Archival Collection
The Japanese American Archival Collection was formally established on November 16, 1994 whenthe Sacramento State Library accepted the Mary Tsukamoto Japanese American Collection as a gift, along with interviews and tapes of an oral history project undertaken by the Florin Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League. These two gifts came to the library largely as the result of the outreach and education efforts of Ms. Georgiana White, who was then the University Archivist and the support of the Dean and Director of the Library at the time, Charles Martell.
Mary Tsukamoto was a prominent Sacramento teacher and civil rights activist who brought the story of the internment into school classrooms and to community groups using portable exhibits to display historical documents and photographs she gathered from relatives, friends and neighbors. Through these presentations, Mary engaged her audiences in discussions about the U.S. Constitution and First Amendment rights. When Mary retired, Georgiana White recognized the need to acquire and preserve this important set of documents, and promote the teaching legacy begun by Mrs. Tsukamoto.
Japanese American Archival Collection Advisory Board
The Japanese American Archival Collection Advisory Board brings together members of the community and representatives from the University's teaching faculty, the Library, and other institutions. The Board plays an important liaison role with the community, helping to locate new materials for the Collection, raising funds for the endowment, supporting special events such as this one today, and promoting educational initiatives.
Notable Educational Initiatives, Publications, and Films Produced
The Japanese American Archival Collection serves as a local, statewide, national and international resource for a wide variety of research and educational efforts. Each year, one exemplary initiative is the Time of Remembrance event held each year at the California Museum for History, Women, and the Arts. This annual program is a joint effort of the Museum, the Library, and regional chapters of the Japanese American Citizens League. Every year the Museum hosts thousands of children and teachers. Through exhibits and firsthand narratives of internees, the lessons of the internment are discussed, and issues of racial prejudice, civil liberties, and First Amendment rights are examined with the students. This program, which began in the Elk Grove School District, applies the teaching methods of Mary Tsukamoto using historical documents, photographs, and artifacts from the Library's Japanese American Archival Collection. Sacramento State Library, the California Museum of History, Women, and the Arts, and the Florin Japanese American Citizens League each received the 2006 Excellence in Education Award from the Sacramento County Historical Society, for their collaboration in this exceptional community education program.
Other Educational uses, grant-funded projects, awards
The Japanese American Archival Collection has been an invaluable resource to a diverse group of users, including scholars, teachers, students, film makers, journalists, community groups, and artists. KVIE television has drawn from the Collection for 6 documentary films, including an upcoming documentary by Ken Burns entitled The War, which will be released in Fall 2006.
Materials from the Collection are represented in numerous publications, including Changing Dreams and Treasured Memories: A Story of Japanese Americans in the Sacramento Region, by Wayne Maeda; In Good Conscience: Supporting Japanese Americans During the Internment, by the Kansha Project; History of Land Park, by Lee Simpson; and The Art of Gaman: Arts and Crafts in the Japanese American Internment Camps 1942–1946, by Delphine Hirasuna.
Every year, items from the Collection are loaned to community groups for Time of Remembrance programs, exhibited in the Library for special tour groups and Sac State classes, and used for teaching here on campus. The Library has been awarded grants to support processing and enhance access to the Collection, including a Library Services and Technology Act grant in 2003 to develop the JAAC ImageBase of 1,200 photographs and artifacts from the Collection. The homepage for this ImageBase can be accessed here. And every day, librarians and staff of the Special Collections and University Archives assist researchers using the Collection, guide student projects, teach classes in the archives using materials from the Collection, and provide support to grant projects.
Since the initial gift in 1994 by Mary Tsukamoto and the Florin Chapter of the JACL, the Japanese American Archival Collection has grown each year through generous donations of documents, photographs, artifacts, and oral histories, primarily from members of the Japanese American community in the greater Sacramento region, particularly those individuals from the once thriving agricultural town of Florin. Today, nearly 11 years after it was donated to Sacramento State, the Japanese American Archival Collection has grown to over 3,000 items donated by over 200 donors. Today's event recognizes and thanks those donors for contributing their family papers, artifacts, and oral histories so this important history will not be forgotten. It is not always easy or pleasant to reveal history and its complexities, but in doing so we shed light on the truth of human experience and offer hope to future generations. In that spirit of preserving and learning from the World War II Japanese American experience, I welcome you to this important event.