Densho, which in Japanese means, "to pass on to the next generation," was created in 1996 by a community group in Seattle, Washington. It is now a nonprofit organization that believes the memories of Japanese American internees and the events that surrounded their incarceration have ongoing relevance. Densho records the histories of these people to "educate the public and to counteract ignorance and hatred."
The Japanese American Legacy Project is an educational and critical examination into the "unjust mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II." The project uses this regretful time in history to take a look at American society and politics from pre-World War II to the present. It is rich in imagery and context. Archival materials, recorded interviews, artwork, essays, and music are juxtaposed and intertwined throughout the site.
The result is vivid and sorrowful, but, nonetheless, successful in its mission "to preserve the personal testimonies of Japanese Americans who were unjustly incarcerated during World War II" and "to explore principles of democracy and to promote tolerance and equal justice for all."
The site consists of five main sections, a featured digital exhibit, and video clips. The section entitled "Causes of Incarceration" provides brief paragraphs and follow-up questions regarding the factors leading to the World War II removal of Japanese Americans. Primary resources, such as excerpts from government documents and oral histories, are used to illustrate points of views expressed or to provoke thought.
"Learning Center" provides two multimedia teacher resource guides. The lesson plans and activities in these guides were designed to work with the Web site, however suggestions on how to adapt the lessons using only print materials are given. The guides are available in PDF in English and Japanese.
The Densho digital archive is a growing collection of testimonies, images, and documents. Currently they hold more than 200 video-recorded oral histories and 1,000 historic photos and documents. Although clips of oral histories can be accessed throughout the Web site, full access to archival materials is only made available to those that complete the free registration.
Students and researchers will find Densho a useful resource for the study of this particular time in American history.
University of California Santa-Barbara