Collections Overview

The collections of the Japanese American Historical Society of San Diego serve to document and preserve the history of the Japanese American community in our region. They reflect the people and events that shaped that history and serve as a memorial to the challenges faced by an immigrant population trying to find their place in a new home.

The early Japanese immigrants came to San Diego in the late 19th century to work on the railroad. Although they were ineligible for citizenship and there were restrictions on land ownership, many chose to stay in San Diego. The majority diversified into the fishing and farming industries, while some established their own businesses such as stores and restaurants in the downtown area of San Diego.

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 however, was to have a lasting impact on this growing community, casting a dark shadow over their lives and shattering all they had worked for. With the issuance of Executive Order 9066, the US government ordered all those of Japanese descent on the West Coast of the United States to leave their homes by 12 noon, Wednesday April 8, 1942 and report for relocation. Although most of them would spend all of WWII detained by the government in internment camps, many young men chose to join the military and fight for the country they still thought of as home. Released after the war, the internees went on to not only rebuild their lives, but to thrive and prosper, becoming an integral part of this region’s population.

These are the stories we want our collections to tell. Books, documents, personal papers, oral history interviews, photographs, scrapbooks, business and organizational records, essays, government reports, ephemera, newspapers and magazines, along with numerous historical artifacts, are preserved to maintain an historical record of our community.

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Questions: Samantha Mills, Archivist (619) 338-8181