Remembrance: The Legacy of Executive Order 9066
On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, authorizing the establishment of concentration camps and the forced removal and incarceration of all people of Japanese ancestry living on the West Coast. Within a month, the process of incarcerating Japanese Americans and their familes began.
By the end of World War II, the United States government forcibly removed an estimated 126,000 people of Japanese ancestry from their homes and incarcerated them in makeshift and newly constructed concentration camps. This was not the first time this community had experienced discrimination; it was a continuation of the systematic racism, policies, and legislation that originated in the late 1800s and disproportionately targeted Asian immigrants and their loved ones.
Families, friends, and communities were broken apart, often assigned to different concentration camps from one another, forcibly separated by hundreds of miles. Life in the camps created additional divisions, disintegrating generations of culture and tradition. This great loss, and the silences about this history that followed, continues to impact communities, even as they build on the resilience of generations before them.
This virtual gallery pairs objects from the WSHS collections and materials donated during community scanning events to tell some of these stories.
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WSHS exhibitions and programs are generously supported by Columbia Bank, Humanities Washington, KNKX, The Murdock Foundation, and the Port of Tacoma.