COLWRIT 4B: Images of History/Japanese American Internment

Primary Sources

Primary sources can be found in a variety of library tools:

For specific search strategies, see the Library's Guide to Finding Historical Primary Sources

Learn more about your topic in advance:

  • names of relevant individuals and organizations
  • dates of events
  • places
  • what terminology was used at the time by participants and observers? (ex:  negro or colored instead of african american)

Use the bibliographies of secondary sources and reference sources to find citations to specific primary sources; search OskiCat to locate them on campus, or ask for assistance at the Library.

The Bancroft Library

The Bancroft Library is one of the treasures of the campus and one of the world's great libraries for the history of the American West.

How to Use The Bancroft Library

1.  Be prepared!  Read secondary sources and know something about your topic before you ask for help.

2.  Search OskiCat, limiting your search to Bancroft Library.  Also search for Bancroft materials in the Online Archive of California, limiting to the Bancroft Library.

3.  Learn how to use The Bancroft.  Read about Access (bring a quarter for lockers!) and Registration (bring two pieces of ID!) .

BEFORE YOU GO:  Search OskiCat!  if the item is in storage ("NRLF") and owned by The Bancroft Library, do not use the Request button in OskiCat.  Instead, use the Bancroft's online request form AT LEAST 72 hours in advance (they prefer a week.)

If you have 72 hours in advance, you can also use the online request form for materials not in storage; that will speed things up when you arrive.  If you don't have that much advance notice, don't bother.

Bring call numbers, titles, etc. with you.  You will fill out a form to present to the Circulation Desk and materials will be paged and brought to you.

4.     Read about the new camera policy ($10/day and no flash!) or about getting photocopies.

5.     Ask for assistance at The Bancroft Library's reference desk.

6.     If the collection you're interested in has a finding aid (guide), use it!  Some of the finding aids are online, including the Finding Aid for the Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Collection.

Searching OskiCat for Books and Media

See the Books and Media tab for search examples.

How can you tell if something is a primary source by looking at OskiCat?  Sometimes you can't, but here are some ideas:

  • was it created by a person or organization involved with the events?  (ex:  Fred Korematsu, Japanese American Citizens League)
  • was it created during the time period of the events?  (ex:  1939-1945) - note that not all primary sources were created during the time period - some, like interviews and memoirs, were created later
  • is the item the type of material that has been created by participants in the event - specialized newspapers, memoirs, interviews, diaries, correspondence, etc.?
  • is the item the type of material that has been created by witnesses of the event - mainstream newspapers and magazine articles, for example?

If you're not sure, ask for assistance!

Finding Primary Sources - Articles

Sample searches in Historical Newspapers (ProQuest): (mostly primary sources)

1.   Japanese american* internment

2.   advanced search

Japanese (citation and document text)
Evacuation (citation and document text)
Alien* (citation and document text)

From:  1/1/1942 – 12/31/1945

Remember to use the terminology of the time period!

Note:  read the help screens before trying to print!

Watch the movie version navigating to Historical Newspapers, searching, revising the search, e-mailing the cites - in MLA citation style!


Sample Searches in Readers Guide (primary sources - major American magazine articles)

1.   Japanese   (keywords)
      internment  (keywords)

2.   Japanese Americans evacuation  (subject)

limit by date:  from year 1942  to year  1945

click on UC e-links to find library location

The Movie: navigating to Reader's Guide, searching, revising the searching, e-mailing the cites in MLA citation style.

Also try searching specific names and events: 

General De Witt; Executive Order 9066, Civilian Exclusion Order 346, etc.!

Internet Resources

A small sampling of Internment-related primary sources on the Internet:

Japanese American Relocation Digital Archives

Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco

The National Archives

the first link, "Documents and Photographs" is a little hard to use - scroll through the lesson plans to the links to the documents - the links are just a series of record numbers like 296057 - then you may still have to look for a tab that says something like "Digital Copies"

Library of Congress

Search the Library of Congress site for many amazing collections - don't miss Ansel Adam's photographs of  Manzanar

Last Update: February 02, 2012 16:57 | Tagged with: history japanese_american_internment