The CJAHS maintains an archive of over 1000 documents, photos, artifacts, and books related to the Japanese American experience. Many Japanese Americans lost all of their worldly possessions when they were interned during the Second World War. Being allowed to transport less than a truckload of goods per family, many had to sacrifice their belongings. Additionally, many Japanese Americans feared that they would be targeted and chastised for their Japanese heritage if they kept the mementos passed down to them from their family in Japan. They burned these artifacts hoping to avoid incarceration in the more severe internment camps. Therefore, unfortunately, the Japanese American community does not have many artifacts from the days before the war. However, some things did manage to survive. We are lucky enough to have items that were created by the internees in camp. These are among some of our most prized possessions, which also include a Purple Heart awarded to a Japanese American veteran.

The CJAHS often lends these items to museums such as the Chicago Historical Society and the National Museum of Mexican Art. If you are interested in visiting the archive and have a particular object or subject that you are researching, please reach out to us and we can let you know about our visitation times.

Through the generosity of the Heiwa Terrace administration, we have been able to relocate our archive to an office in the building. We are thankful to be able to house our artifacts close to the community members that would appreciate them the most.

Blog written by the archivist: