Japanese Americans

Research Paths

Background to these Records

  • In February 1942, all U.S. Civil Service employees who were of Japanese descent were suspended from employment. All Americans of Japanese descent serving in the U.S. Army and attached to units stationed in the Ninth Service Command area (Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington) were either transferred to other service commands or put on inactive duty.

    By October 1942, most west coast Japanese-Americans were residing in ten relocation centers operated by the War Relocation Authority (WRA). On November 1, 1942, the WRA announced its initial leave clearance and relocation program, which provided for the release of internees if they met certain conditions. The first release of several hundred internees in late 1942 alarmed the military from a security standpoint. Japanese-Americans had also been lobbying to again enlist in the military, and to work as civil servants and in private industries to assist the war effort.

    The Japanese-American Program was established to ensure the loyalty of any internees who were released from relocation centers and/or were permitted to enlist in the military or work in the civilian workforce.

Check Military Records related to the Relocation and Internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II




Office of the Provost Marshal General (OPMG), RG 389

Records of the Provost Division

Records of the Japanese-American Branch

  • Records Relating to Persons of Japanese Ancestry Residing in the United States, 1942-1946

    The records of the Japanese-American Program include the minutes of meetings of the Japanese-American Joint Board. The Board made determinations in cases of individuals' release from relocation centers or employment in specific industries. Files also include records about Japanese-American men eligible for military service, including name, birth-date, prewar address, and relocation center.
    Box and file list available.
    Read more about these records in our online catalog

  • Japanese-American Personal Data Cards
    The Japanese-American Personal Data Cards contain personal information (such as name, address and birthdate) and investigatory information (membership in certain organizations, character assessments, allegations regarding disloyal statements, prewar visits to Japan, and relatives living in Japan). Other files contain policy and administrative records, statistical summaries, as well as historical background on the program.
    Read more about these records in our online catalog

Records of the Enemy Prisoner of War Information Bureau

How to search these records

Descriptions of the records are online in our online catalog. Folder names may include the assembly centers. For searches of individual names or families, please contact the Modern Military Records unit:



Western Defense Command (WDC), RG 499

Background to the Records

  • Military control of the Western Defense Command Area (Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington) was established in March 1942 by Executive Order 9066. The WDC at first tried to implement a voluntary evacuation of Japanese-Americans. However, only about 5,000 of the approximately 120,000 Japanese-Americans living in the affected area agreed to evacuate. The WDC then created the Wartime Civil Control Administration to enforce a mandatory evacuation through the issuance of a series of exclusion orders.

    The WDC was in charge of the initial evacuation of Japanese-Americans to temporary Assembly Centers, the operation of the centers, and the transfer of Japanese-Americans to permanent Relocation Centers operated by the War Relocation Authority. When internees reached the Relocation Centers, military jurisdiction ceased.

WDC and Wartime Civil Control Administration records contain documents relating to the policy and administration of the program to evacuate Japanese-Americans from the west coast, including documents about the public reaction to the program.

Western Defense Command and Fourth Army, Wartime Civil Control Administration

Read about these records in our online catalog

  • Classified General Correspondence, 1942-1946
    Box and file list available.

  • General Correspondence, 1942-1946
    Box and file list available.

  • Publications Concerning the Internment of Japanese-Americans, 1942-1945
    Item list available.

  • Individual Exclusion Board and Program Correspondence, 1942-1945
    Box and file list available.

Western Defense Command and Fourth Army, Wartime Civil Control Administration and Civil Affairs Division; Entry 140 (UD)

  • Library Collection; Seized Enemy Records, 1917-1942. Mainly Japanese-language documents seized from West Coast Japanese societies, religious organizations and individuals.

Records of Assembly Centers

The records of the Assembly Center Branch contain general files about the administration of the assembly centers, as well as files about specific centers. Assembly Center records contain both administrative records and files about internees, arranged by Family (Family Folders).

  • Microfilm Copy of the Index of the Records of the Assembly Center Branch, 1942-1945. Entry 1 (A1)

  • Microfilm Copy of the General Correspondence of the Assembly Center Branch, 1942-1943. Entry 2 (A1)
    Roll list available.

  • Microfilm Copy of the records of the Finance Division of the Assembly Center Branch, 1942-1945. Roll list available. Entry 3 (A1)

  • Microfilm Copy of the Records of the Central and Area Supply Office of the Assembly Center Branch, 1942-1945. Entry 4 (A1)
    Roll list available.

  • Western Defense Command and Fourth Army, Wartime Civil Control Administration and Civil Affairs Division; Microfilm Copy of Records of Assembly Centers, 1942-1945. Entry 5 (A1)
    Roll list available.

  • Western Defense and Fourth Army, Wartime Civil Control Administration and Civil Affairs Division; Microfilm Copy of Records of Japanese Relocation Centers. 1942-46. Entry 143 (UD)
    Box labels and MLR entry in error. These are records of Assembly Centers, not Relocation Centers. Roll list available.

How to search these records

Contact the Modern Military Records unit:

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Japanese Americans >

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