HomeAsian AmericansProject publishes full list of 1940s Japanese American incarcerees

Project publishes full list of 1940s Japanese American incarcerees

The Irei Monument Project, created to document and commemorate the World War II-era Japanese American incarceration camps, has teamed up with Ancestry.com to publish the first comprehensive list of the more than 125,000 individuals who were imprisoned in the camps.

The searchable, free-to-access list is available both on Irei’s website — which includes a scrolling wall of the names — and now on Ancestry.com as well.

“We began our efforts in 2019 to comprehensively account for every single person, not leaving anyone out and rendering names accurately, as a way to provide dignity to each person who experienced the unjust incarceration,” wrote Irei Project director Duncan Ryuken Williams in a blog post.

The names and 350,000 historical documents, including camp rosters, photographs, draft cards and census forms, are searchable on Ancestry.com.

During World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the infamous Executive Order 9066, which forcibly removed and incarcerated people of Japanese descent, most of them U.S. citizens.

The Irei Project researched the detainees by looking over camp rosters and other historic documents, as well as double and triple-checking the accurate spelling the names. Through these efforts, Williams created the list of names, which became a massive book of memorial called the Ireichō (慰霊帳), now on display at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. As part of the exhibition, members of the public can use a special Japanese hanko stamp to leave a mark for each person as a way of honoring them.

“This project is not a static nor complete one,” Williams wrote. “The premise of the Irei Project is that we need the public to make sure we not only remember the injustice of the incarceration, but their help in repairing the wounds of that history. By accurately recording the details of those who were incarcerated during this time, we continuously correct the historical record for generations to come.”

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