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During deliberation for his bill for reparations, Assemblyman Patrick Johnston asserted that California was at the forefront of the push to remove Japanese from the West Coast

“It was California—Its politicians, its business leaders, its newspaper publishers—who whipped up the hysteria against Japanese Americans at the outset of World War II that caused Roosevelt’s evacuation order.”

It was this sentiment that inspired the California State Archives to explore the State’s history regarding the incarceration of Japanese Americans and residents of Japanese descent.

The Grant

The California State Archives received a California Civil Liberties Public Education Program (CCLPEP) grant from the California State Library for this project.  CCLPEP is a “state-funded grant project to sponsor public educational activities and development of educational materials to ensure that the events surrounding the exclusion, forced removal, and internment of civilians and permanent resident aliens of Japanese ancestry will be remembered so that the causes and circumstance of this and similar events may be illuminated and understood.” 

The project goals were to:

  • Increase accessibility to an otherwise hidden body of records concerning Japanese internment during World War II
  • Educate the public about the existence of these materials, as well as the significance of these events in the state’s history
  • Provide a fuller picture of the events surrounding the incarceration of Japanese American citizens and their families, and
  • Preserve long-term use of historically significant materials via digitization.

Using a bibliography created by the State Library as a starting point, we researched the Archives holding for materials related to California’s coordination with the Federal government in the incarceration of Japanese.  Through this research, other collections were identifed that had not originally been included in the State Library bibliography.  New and the existing findings were sampled and scanned to make the documents available online in a topical collection.

For further information about the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program, click here.