• Welcome

    The story of the Japanese Americans in the 20th century – their migration to this country, the Alien Land laws under which they lived, their incarceration during World War II, the redress movement – is a complex local and state topic as well as a national subject of great historical impact. The accumulation of archival materials telling these “local” stories has enormous potential for scholarly interpretation and forms a humanities topic of national importance. The California State University System (consisting of 23 campuses, once called “the 1000 mile campus”) and the local CSU archival collections scattered throughout California are too disparate to offer scholars a complete story or easy access. It is not serendipity that so many CSU archives have a great deal of material focused on this issue. Immigration patterns that determined where Japanese Americans (Nikkei) settled also relate to where CSU collections are located. Sacramento, San Jose and Fresno had early Japanese American agricultural populations. The Nikkei populations of Little Tokyo, Gardena and Palos Verdes in Los Angeles County are directly connected to the extent of materials that CSU Dominguez Hills and CSU Fullerton have collected. Grants to digitize and describe these archival collections are beginning to bring these local stories of national significance together for worldwide access.

  • Webpage Note

    This initial beta-site is funded by a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. This planning grant, the first awarded to a consortium of California State University Archives, was designed to create specifics for a larger grant. Thus, we have only about 300 images to demonstrate the concept in this first manifestation. Each of the web site’s content pages are designed to be expanded. The archival materials were digitized and cataloged in 2014 when the web site also went live.


  • Project Mission

    The central purpose of the California State University Japanese American History Digitization Project is to improve access to CSU archival collections about the history of Japanese Americans and to develop a functional model for ongoing planning and collaboration among the CSU archival and library community.

Featured Collections

California State University, Dominguez Hills

Several collections document not only the World War II era, but also Japanese Americans throughout the 20th century. The Asian Pacific Studies collections consists of newsletters, documents, photographs, a Japanese language syllabus, and the Okine Family correspondence found in an abandoned farm house on the CSUDH campus. MORE...

California State University, Fresno

CSU Fresno’s collection consists of “ecollections” as well as physical materials. The digitized collections consist of oral histories of citizens of the San Joaquin Valley, photographs, publications and documents relating to incarceration. It also includes the Violet Kazue de Cristoforo Papers relating to a Japanese American poet who was incarcerated at Tule Lake. The collection includes her haikus written at the segregation center as well as other writings and materials related to the Redress Movement. Much of the digitized materials needs further subject analysis.

California State University, Fullerton

Project Description: Initially, this project began with individuals residing in Orange County, California, who, for the most part, were of Japanese ancestry and had been interned during the war in the Poston War Relocation Center in southwestern Arizona. More importantly, it indicates that within the next two years project members generated seventy-three new interviews, and that these taped recollections encompassed the Evacuation experiences of Japanese Americans and non-Japanese Americans from all over California, though particularly from the Los Angeles area—the prewar residential, commercial, and cultural center of the mainland Japanese American community. MORE...