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Japanese American Incarceration During World War II

This digital teaching collection focuses on the experiences of Japanese American students at Puget Sound who were incarcerated during World War II.

Date Range of Archival Materials

Date range of materials within this digital teaching collection: 1937-1992.


The following individuals contributed to the creation of this Digital Teaching Collection:

  • Adriana Flores, Archivist & Special Collections Librarian

Contact Us

If you have any questions about this Digital Teaching Collection, please email

To learn more about the Digital Teaching Collections as a whole, visit our Digital Teaching Collections webpage. 

Citation Tips

Citing a primary source document from an archives varies depending on the instructor's preference or the discipline in which you are operating. For a tutorial on how to cite archival items, visit Puget Sound's Citation Tools Guide and visit the Archives tab

Japanese American Incarceration during World War II



Between 1880 and 1942, Tacoma, Washington, was home to a large and thriving Japanese American community. Despite multiple anti-Asian and naturalization laws, Japanese Americans created a bustling community called Nihonmachi, or Japantown, in downtown Tacoma where the University of Washington Tacoma is now located. This community included businesses, hotels, places of worship, and a Japanese Language School. Many Japanese Americans who grew up in Tacoma and attended the Japanese Language School went on to become students at what was then the College of Puget Sound. To read the complete essay, visit the Overview Essay tab of this guide.

How to Use this Digital Teaching Collection

There are many components of this Digital Teaching Collection for you to explore!

  1. The Gallery: Browse the gallery of images below to get a glimpse of our digital source set. Click on the image to be taken to a digital database where you'll find a larger version of the object, more details about it, and be able to download a copy to use for research.
  2. Overview Essay: Want to understand how these archival items work together? Read our overview essay to better understand the greater context of the objects and the histories that surround them. 
  3. List of Sources: Visit the list of primary sources to read descriptive text that our librarians have written. These descriptions will help you better understand the object and will jumpstart your research. Click on the image to be taken to a digital database where you'll find a larger version of the object, more details about it, and be able to download a copy to use for research.
  4. Teaching Guide: These collections have been designed with students and educators in mind. Visit our Teaching Guide to find discussion questions, activity ideas, and complete lesson plans for K-12 and undergraduate audiences. 
  5. Additional Resources: The search for primary sources does not stop with one institution! We've listed other digital collections and repositories that have archival sources relevant to this topic as well as tips for continuing your research.

The Gallery

In this rotating gallery, you'll get a glimpse of some the items from this digital teaching collection. Click on the image to be taken to a digital database where you'll find a larger version of the object, more details about it, and be able to download a copy to use for research. To see the entire set of sources, visit the List of Sources

The Gallery

Article about the Japanese Students' Club at Puget Sound with photo of group

“Japanese Students’ Club,” 1940 Tamanawas yearbook, pg. 62

This is the yearbook for the 1939-1940 academic year at the University of Puget Sound. The Japanese Students’ Club is located on page 62. The entry includes a photograph of members and a short description of the club’s activities.

Image of poster titled

“Instructions to all persons of Japanese ancestry...” poster, May 10, 1942

This Civilian Exclusion Order was posted around Pierce County on May 10, 1942. The poster outlines instructions that individuals of Japanese ancestry need to follow before they are “evacuated,” which is a euphemism for being incarcerated. 

Letter, Tacoma Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) to College of Puget Sound, May 14, 1942

This letter is from the Tacoma chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) to the faculty and students of the College of Puget Sound. 

Newspaper article in black and white

“CPS Japanese Students Give Final Message…,” The Trail, May 15, 1942, pg. 2

The Trail is the student newspaper at the University of Puget Sound. On page 2, read the article titled “CPS Japanese Students Give Final Message in Chapel.”

Seal of National Endowment for the HumanitiersThis digital teaching collection has been made possible in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Democracy demands wisdom.  Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this digital collection do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.