Ancestry.com to Help Japanese Americans Connect with Their Past In Remembrance of the 70th Anniversary of Internment Camp Imprisonment
Largest Online Collection of World War II Japanese American Internment Camp Records Sheds New Light on Lives Under Arrest
PROVO, UTAH (February 16, 2012) – In remembrance of the 70thanniversary of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066 placing more than 120,000 Japanese Americans in internment camps, Ancestry.com, the world's largest online family history resource, is offering free access from February 16-23 to its extensive Japanese internment camp record collections.
The more than 180,000 records, spanning 1942-45 when the Executive Order was in place, allow all Americans a chance to better understand the nation’s wartime mindset and the effect it had on Japanese Americans. For those with Japanese heritage, these databases offer a glimpse into their families’ removal from their homes and businesses and insights into how they were forever affected by their internment. To begin searching, users can visit www.ancestry.com/japanese.
Fearing espionage and sabotage following the December 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. government viewed the attack as justification to relocate people of Japanese descent living on the West Coast and place them in internment camps throughout the interior of the country. As the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CRWIC) report stated, the forced removal and mass incarceration was the result of racism, opportunism and a failure of political leadership. Nevertheless, within months, entire families were displaced from their homes, and in many cases, family members were separated. Two-thirds of those imprisoned were American citizens and half of them were children. The camps began closing in 1944, although at least one government-run camp remained open until 1946. Finally, in 1988, Congress passed a bill that provided for an official apology and reparations to Japanese Americans still living, over 40 years after the camps were closed.
Married to a man who was named after the director of his camp, Ancestry.com user Pearl Ito was able to learn about her husband and sister-in-law’s Tule Lake camp experience in Northern California, information she had struggled to find previously.
“Japanese family history is difficult to research because it’s protected by the Japanese government. Despite this, I was able to search Ancestry.com’s records and found out that my husband’s family, including his parents and siblings, were interned at Tule Lake,” said Pearl Ito, Ancestry.com user. “What’s more, it was ironic to also uncover a World War II Draft Registration for my husband’s father, even though he was not allowed to become a citizen at that time. This was a very sad time in America’s history and we’ve shared the findings with our sons so they better understand how far our family has come in this country.”
The Japanese American National Museum is marking the 70th Anniversary of Executive Order 9066 with a new endeavor, the Remembrance Project. Phase I of the Project will be publically unveiled at the National Museum on Saturday, February 18, 2012 with the premier of a PSA featuring actor and activist George Takei, and with remarks by the Honorable Norman Y. Mineta, Former U.S. Secretary of Transportation; both of whom can be found in the records on Ancestry.com. The web site intends to collect tributes to those who lived this experience, and make them more accessible for others who seek to learn about and become inspired by these remarkable first-person stories. Collaborating with the National Museum to shed light on this time period, Ancestry.com’s collection includes extensive records that help to further explain the American mindset at the time the Executive Order was signed.
”I was only a small child when the government sent soldiers to remove my family from our home in Los Angeles,” Takei recalled. “We could only take what we could carry. First we were sent to the horse stalls of Santa Anita racetrack and then to government-run prison camps in both Arkansas and California. My hope is that all Americans will learn about the unfair treatment visited upon Japanese Americans like my family and will ensure it never happens again to any other group.”
The key records that tell this story, made available in partnership with the National Archives and Records Administration include:
- World War II Japanese-American Internment Camp Documents, 1942-1946: This database contains a collection of images from 10 Japanese-American internment camps of World War II. These documents include newspapers, press bulletins, church reports, community activities and more.
- Japanese Americans Relocated During World War II:This database contains information collected by the War Relocation Authority on more than 100,000 Japanese-Americans who were relocated during World War II.
“Ancestry.com offers the largest collection of Japanese internment records available online, from which you can paint a detailed picture of what it was like to be held in these camps,” said Daniel Jones, VP of Global Content Strategy, Ancestry.com. “By opening access to these records free of charge, we hope to better educate the public on this unfortunate moment in our nation’s history.”
Ancestry.com Inc. (Nasdaq: ACOM) is the world's largest online family history resource, with more than 1.7 million paying subscribers. More than 8 billion records have been added to the site in the past 15 years. Ancestry users have created more than 30 million family trees containing over 3 billion profiles. In addition to its flagship site www.ancestry.com, Ancestry.com offers several localized Web sites designed to empower people to discover, preserve and share their family history.
About the Japanese American National Museum
The Japanese American National Museum is dedicated to fostering greater understanding and appreciation for America’s ethnic and cultural diversity by preserving and telling the stories of Americans of Japanese ancestry. Since its incorporation in 1985, the National Museum has grown into an internationally recognized institution, presenting award-winning exhibitions, groundbreaking traveling exhibits, educational public programs, innovative video documentaries and cutting-edge curriculum guides. For more information, call the Japanese American National Museum at (213) 625-0414, or go to www.janm.org.
Forward Looking Statements
This press release contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated by these forward-looking statements. Such risks and uncertainties include the ability of users of our website to satisfactorily and conveniently access desired information from specific collections. Information concerning additional factors that could cause events or results to differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements is contained under the caption "Risk Factors" in our Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended September 30, 2011, and in discussions in other of our SEC filings. These forward-looking statements should not be relied upon as representing our views as of any subsequent date and we assume no obligation to publicly update or revise these forward-looking statements.