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Japanese American Internment: Primary Resources

Over 100,000 Japanese Americans were forced into relocation centers in the U.S. during WWII.


A photo of Japanese American children facing the camera with books open during a grammar lesson

Japanese American children during a grammar lesson in the Tule Lake Relocation Center, Newell, CA (November 4, 1942)

A primary source in research is an original document, object, or raw material that was created at the time that is under study. Primary sources differ from secondary sources, which are accounts and interpretations of events created by an author without firsthand experience¹.

Primary source materials may include items such as letters, speeches, diary entries, newspaper articles published at the time, oral interviews, documents, photographs, artifacts, and anything else that may provide a firsthand experience about the person or event that is being researched².

 For example, if you are researching the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address" would be a primary source to use for research.