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World War II Incarceration of Japanese and Japanese Americans: Introduction

I am an American” sign hung by the storefront owner of Japanese descent the day after Pearl Harbor, photograph by Dorothea Lange.

“I am an American” sign hung by the storefront owner of Japanese descent the day after Pearl Harbor, photograph by Dorothea Lange. (National Archives Identifier: 537833)

The World War II experiences of Nikkei (Japanese emigrants and their descendants) in the United States are extensively documented in federal records. From surveillance conducted decades before the attack on Pearl Harbor to mass incarceration to post-war reparations, records at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) provide a rich and complex portrait of the U.S. government’s wartime actions and their impacts on the communities of Japanese descent. The following serves as a starting point for researchers interested in the history and treatment of Japanese Americans in the years preceding, during, and following the war.



World War II Incarceration - Resources for Genealogists

Conducting genealogical research on formerly incarcerated Japanese and Japanese Americans can present a challenge for even the most adept researcher. Additional details can be found under the World War II Japanese American Incarceration: Researching an Individual or Family page.

Research by Topic

Explore records at the National Archives related to World War II Japanese American Incarceration by subject area.


Explore Further

Blogs and Articles

Online Exhibits

Gila River Relocation Center, Rivers, Arizona. Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, accompanied by Dillon Myer, National Director of the War Relocation Authority, visit the Gila River Relocation Center, where they were greeted by crowds of enthusiastic evacuees.War!:  Japanese American Incarceration

Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum online exhibit and virtual tour.



Educator Resources


FDR Library Teachable Moments




A general election for five members of the Tanforan Assembly Center Advisory Council being held at the Recreational Hall. San Bruno, California.

Teaching Activity

Children reciting pledge of allegiance under a flag at the Raphael Weill Public School. San Francisco, California.

Public Programs

World War II Enemy Alien Records Related to
Japanese Americans​, 2024


Japanese American Incarceration Through the
Lens of Ansel Adams, 2023

Locating the Relocated, 2017


Executive Order 9066 - 
Japanese American Incarceration, 2017


Beyond the War Relocation Administration, 2017

Keep Discovering!