Japanese internment

Marriage certificate for a couple held at the Camp Harmony Relocation Staging Center in Puyallup. Washington State Archives. Pierce County Auditor marriage certificates. 1942.


In 1942, Japanese immigrants and Americans of Japanese descent living on the West Coast were assembled, registered, and moved to inland internment camps.


Start with secondary sources 

Use secondary sources to gain basic knowledge of your topic, its significance, and historical context.

Ask a Librarian online at Washington State Library to get expert help in locating useful secondary sources. 


Then use primary sources

Use primary sources to deepen your understanding of the topic, and assemble evidence to support your own analysis and interpretation.

Ask an Archivist online at Washington State Archives to get expert help in locating useful primary sources.


Some key historical research questions:

  • What event set the stage for their removal from the West Coast?
  • Did immigrants and Americans of German and Italian descent receive the same treatment?
  • Did the perceived threat to national security outweigh the dispossession of freedom and property to Japanese Americans?
  • How significant a threat did Japanese- and German-American spies pose to the nation’s vital interests?
  • Who supported Japanese internment, and who opposed it?
  • Who were Gordon Hirobiyashi, James Sakamoto and Walt Woodward and what roles to they play?
  • How can people’s and organizations’ experiences help us interpret this topic?
  • Consider other possibilities for historical questions as you analyze and interpret this topic.


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