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What's Up: Executive Order 9066

Drawing of Japanese Relocation Center from the Manzanar Free Press

Drawing of Japanese Relocation Center from the Manzanar Free Press, part of the Japanese-American Relocation Center Newspaper Collection.

On February 19, 1942, in the immediate aftermath of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s signed Executive Order 9066; a directive that eventually resulted in the forced relocation and incarceration of more than 100,000 Japanese Americans. Seventy-five years later, in 2017, ominous executive orders are once again making headlines and sending familiar shockwaves of fear and confusion across the globe. “Most of us look back on the events that transpired 75 years ago and realize that the U.S. government made a series of tragic mistakes beginning with Executive Order 9066,” says Oviatt Library Dean Mark Stover. “What is chilling is to realize that while 1942 and 2017 are two very different years in the context of history, the executive branch of our government seems to be following a very similar path.” Two events at the Oviatt this spring revisit the history, highlight the long-lasting effects, and remind us of some of the important lessons learned from Executive Order 9066.

First, currently running in the Library Exhibit Gallery, Executive Order 9066: The 75th Anniversary, is collection of posters created to highlight the variety of resources and materials included in the CSU Japanese American Digitization Project. The goal of that collaborative project, which includes the work and collections of fifteen CSU campuses, was to digitize and make available online a variety of unique and important resources. The vast collection includes letters, photographs, newsletters, and other materials that document the experiences of Japanese Americans imprisoned during World War II. Also included in the exhibit are unique documents from the Oviatt’s Special Collections and Archives that have been donated to the university. These one-of-a-kind materials provide students and researchers with first-hand information about the lives of those incarcerated, as well as information about Japanese Americans serving in the military overseas. The exhibit runs through May 31, 2017, and is open to the public during regular Library hours.

In addition, on Friday, March 17, the Friends of the Oviatt Library will host Executive Order 9066: déjà vu or redux; a luncheon, discussion, and book signing with author Lane Ryo Hirabayashi. Hirabayashi currently teaches at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) where some of his courses include the Japanese American experience, Asian American history through the medium of documentaries, and contemporary issues in the Asian American community. One of his books, Japanese American Resettlement through the Lens, showcases a collection of War Relocation Authority (WRA) images by photographer Hikaru Iwasaki that focus on the experience of Japanese American resettlement after release from WRA camps. “Considering our current political climate, Professor Hirabayashi’s presentation, Executive Order 9066: déjà vu or redux, is more than just well-timed,” says Oviatt Library Dean Mark Stover. “From an educational standpoint, it’s imperative.” The price of this event is $20.00, and free parking is available in the G1 parking lot. For more information about this event, or to make a reservation, please call (818) 677-2638, or download the Online Form from the Library website.