Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project 


Densho (meaning "legacy") provides the most comprehensive resource on the World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans to educate students and the general public about the necessity of preserving civil liberties even in times of strife. We offer a free online digital archive of video oral histories, photos, and documents of Japanese American history. Densho's teaching resources promote critical thinking about democratic principles and the ideal of equal justice for all.

Mission Statement
Densho's mission is to preserve the testimonies of Japanese Americans who were unjustly incarcerated during World War II before their memories are extinguished. We offer these irreplaceable firsthand accounts, coupled with historical images and teacher resources, to explore principles of democracy and promote equal justice for all.
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Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project
1416 S Jackson St 
(206) 320-0095 

Tom Ikeda 
Executive Director 


Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project Programs

Education Program
This month, Densho is launching an innovative new online teacher training course. The program gives educators training and curriculum for teaching about World War II incarceration through historic photographs, documents, newspaper articles, political cartoons, films, and oral histories. The curriculum was refined over the course of two years of highly rated in-person workshops that trained 625 teachers from 22 states and the District of Columbia.

Densho Online Encyclopedia
The Densho Encyclopedia is a free and publicly accessible website that provides concise, accurate, and balanced information on many aspects of the Japanese American story during World War II. It is designed and written for a non-specialist audience that includes high school and college students and instructors, multiple generations of Nikkei community members, confinement sites preservation groups, amateur and professional historians, librarians, journalists, documentarians, and the general public. The Encyclopedia is thoroughly cross indexed and articles are linked to relevant primary and secondary materials from the Densho archive and from other websites that include still and moving images, documents, databases, and oral history interview excerpts as well as standard bibliographical sources.

Photograph and Document Collection
Densho completed a two-year project that created a new photograph and document online
repository that is more searchable from Google and more sharable through Facebook. We also added 50,000 historic photographs and documents to this online repository.

Interview Program
Last year Densho added 50 visual history interviews to the online Densho Archive bringing the total to 833. We also began new interview partnerships with the Oregon Nikkei Endowment in Portland and the Manzanar National Historic Site, a unit of the National Park Service.

Recent Successes and Current Challenges

Densho recently received the 2014 Stetson Kennedy “Vox Populi” Award of the Oral History Association and the 2013 Hamer-Kegan Award of the Society of American Archivists for its online resources. Densho's work in historic preservation and education has also been recognized by awards from NPower, the Washington State Historical Society, the Japanese American Citizens League, Humanities Washington, the American Library Association, Microsoft Technology for Good, and the Microsoft Alumni Foundation.

A current challenge is to raise money to create training programs to reach teachers and students nationally about the World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans.


Densho provides important education about the World War II detention of Japanese Americans to preserve history and promote civil liberties.

Use of Best Practices
Densho was among the first nonprofit organizations to see the potential of digitizing historical resources. Using primary sources to engage students has proven more appealing than traditional textbook-style instruction, while using the Internet and social media sites allows Densho to have global reach and relevance.

In addition to maintaining a comprehensive digitized archive, Densho's online curricula and teacher training workshops are designed to help students better understand the role of constitutional protections, develop compassion and respect for immigrants, and think critically about how the media presents information.

It works with a number of partners locally and nationally to not recreate resources but instead incorporate its information into the programming of other organizations – local partners include the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience, Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community, Museum of History and Industry, and the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Washington, among others.

Its curriculum is aligned with Washington State standards and Densho is working with Seattle Public Schools to incorporate its curriculum into the district’s social studies program.

The organization has a strong executive director and board and remains committed to its core mission. Other heritage groups from across the country look to Densho for guidance about how to preserve cultural resources using web-based technologies.

Grant History with The Seattle Foundation:

Grants Awarded through The Seattle Foundation Grantmaking Program:

8/10/2015 $10,000.00provide support for the community partnership project via GiveTogether: Arts Engagement.
9/10/2013 $5,000.00support general operating expenses.
9/10/2010 $10,000.00support general operating expenses.
3/10/2008 $20,000.00support general operating expenses.


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