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State Archives Launches Japanese American Internment Camp Display

By Staff, 02/18/17 3:04 PM

LITTLE ROCK – On February 19th, the Arkansas State Archives is launching an online digital collection of materials related to Japanese American internment camps in Arkansas, Department of Arkansas Heritage Director Stacy Hurst announced this week. The launch coincides with the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, which authorized the removal of people of Japanese ancestry from the west coast in February 1942 and led to the creation of internment camps across the interior of the country during World War II.

The collection, “You Fought Prejudice and Won: Japanese Internment Camps In Arkansas,” contains over 750 documents and images from the State Archives, relating to the Rohwer and Jerome Relocation Centers in the Arkansas Delta. The camps housed approximately 16,000 Japanese and Japanese American citizens between 1942 and 1945. Materials on the online collection include photographs, letters, official documents, newspaper articles, personnel narratives and artwork from internees and camp officials.

These materials were digitized as the second phase of a larger collaborative project, funded in part by a grant from the National Park Service. The collaborative project, “Rohwer Reconstructed,” directed by the Center For Advanced Spatial Technologies at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, will feature materials from multiple Arkansas archival repositories, as well as 2D maps and a 3D reconstruction of the camp. Phase one of the Rowher Reconstructed project is slated for completion in March 2017, with phase two materials to be added over the course of the following year. The entire project is slated for completion in September 2018.

Dr. Lisa Speer, state historian and director of the Arkansas State Archives, says of the digital project, “This project to create greater public awareness of the plight of Japanese Americans and Japsnses-born immigrants in the U.S. during the Second World War is critical to helping us understand the experience of those who suddenly find themselves under suspension by the country they have chosen to call home.” “Hopefully, the digital collection has lessons we can learn from the past and apply to the future,” Speer noted.

“You Fought Prejudices and Won: Japanese American Internment Camps In Arkansas,” is the 20th online collection created by the Arkansas State Archives since the launch of its digital collections website, the Arkansas Digital Ark-ives in 2014. This collection joins others on the site relating to World War I, the Arkansas Territory and the Civil War.


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