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

Densho Digital Archive
Free searchable database containing over 700 transcribed and indexed video oral histories and 10,700 photos and documents that trace Japanese American history from immigration to wartime detention to civil rights-era redress. Users include teachers, students, historical preservationists, journalists, legal scholars, documentary makers, and the general public.

Teacher Training
Densho trains hundreds of classroom teachers every year on how to teach with primary sources about the World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans.

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.

Recent Successes and Current Challenges

Over the last two years, Densho has added over 200 new oral histories to its online archive, launched a new 350 article online encyclopedia, and trained over 500 classroom teachers. Densho's work in historic preservation and education has 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 need of Densho is to support the marketing of Densho's resources to a nationwide audience of teachers, librarians, historians, and creators of educational media.


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:

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.
12/16/2004 $20,000.00support the purchase of video recording and storage equipment.


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