The Museum’s longest running exhibit, “Uprooted! Japanese Americans During WWII,” surveys a century of Japanese American history in California.
Japanese immigrants and their American-born children overcame racial prejudice as they established businesses and farms, built thriving communities and contributed to the state’s prosperity. Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, they faced increased hostility and discrimination.
The tension came to head when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942. Under the order, military commanders could designate “military areas” as “exclusion zones,” from which “any or all persons may be excluded.” The order cleared the way for the forced removal of all Japanese Americans from the West Coast. By the spring of 1942, 120,000 Japanese Americans were forced to into hastily-built “Assembly Centers” in fairgrounds and racetracks. Eventually they were moved to ten long-term incarceration centers in isolated areas, including Manzanar and Tule Lake in California.
Following the history of Japanese Americans in California, visitors experience life behind barbed wire in a re-created barracks and hear first-person stories of the incarceration through interactive video kiosks. The exhibit includes photographs, art and artifacts from the Japanese American Archival Collection at Sacramento State and private lenders.
Continuing through the 1980s, the exhibit also chronicles how Japanese Americans overcame the hardships of incarceration and worked to establish their lives and their communities, and ultimately won redress for their wartime losses.