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Ancestry.com to give free access to Japanese American Interment Camp Records this month

Published: Thursday, Feb. 16 2012 12:41 p.m. MST

Topaz, the Japanese internment camp which held over 8000 internees for a 3 1/2 years, shown here in 1943. Utah State Historical Society

, Utah State Historical Society

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PROVO — The largest online family history resource is giving free access to its extensive Japanese internment camp record collections for a limited time.

In remembrance of the 70th anniversary of President Franklin D. Roosevelts Executive Order 9066 placing more than 120,000 Japanese Americans in internment camps, Ancestry.com is giving free access to their online history files from February 16-23.

Hosting more than 180,000 records, the online family history website claims the most extensive database of Japanese Americans in internment camps during 1942-1945 when the Executive Order was in place. These records give an insight to the life of Japanese Americans during this period, and the lasting affects on their businesses, families, and lifestyles.

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 nations history.

Following the December 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. government feared more espionage and sabotage from Japanese. They used these feelings to justify relocating any person of Japanese descent living on the West Coach to be put into internment camps in the interior of the country. Regardless of the potential backlash this act would have, within months, families were displaces, and often separated, and relocated. Over two-thirds of those imprisoned were American citizens - half were children.

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.

After three years, the camps began closing with the final government-run camp closing its doors in 1946. In 1988, Congress passed a bill that provided for an official apology and reparations to Japanese Americans still living.

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