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The Japanese community first set down roots in Washington State during the 1890s. Early immigrants took low paying jobs in railroads, sawmills, salmon canneries, farms and as domestic laborers. Within a few decades, however, these Washingtonians had become a vital part of our state with contributions to both culture and commerce.
It was not a life without conflict, however. Changing laws and the stirring of war with Japan caused strain for many Japanese Americans. The bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941 only intensified fear and frustration as uncertainty about the future increased. President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942, authorizing the creation of concentration camps for Japanese American citizens. This event would mark the lives of Japanese Americans, their families and their communities forever.
This new, long-term exhibition focuses on the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. Visitors will experience history through photographs, art, letters, and more. A significant part of this exhibition has been sourced by working with individuals and families who were directly impacted by this history, including camp survivors. The Historical Society continues to accept these materials for future additions to exhibition and educational materials.
We are grateful to our advisory committee and the community of participants who have helped create this exhibition. Thank you!