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Ancestry® Makes New Record Collection Available for Free to Honor the 125,000+ People of Japanese Descent Unjustly Incarcerated During and After World War II

24 Apr 2024 6:07 PM | Anonymous

The following is a press release written by the folks at Ancestry:

As part of a philanthropic initiative to make history that is at risk of being forgotten available to everyone for free, Ancestry® – the global leader in family history – announced it has published and made freely available on its site the first comprehensive list of over 125,000 persons of Japanese descent who were unjustly imprisoned between December 1942 and January 1948.

Originally compiled by the Irei Project, the list of names was first published in a 1,000-page book (The Ireichō) at the Japanese American National Museum and as an online monument (The Ireizō). Now, people around the world will also be able to digitally search the collection on Ancestry to gain critical information about their family history including names, birthdates, and incarceration locations.

“We’re proud to partner with Ancestry to make this accurate and comprehensive list of every person of Japanese heritage incarcerated during WWII available to everyone,” says Duncan Ryuken Williams, director of the Irei Project. “By honoring their names, we proudly represent their individuality, their personhood, and their dignity, not afforded to them in their unjust incarceration.”

By publishing this collection of names and making it available on its site for free, Ancestry is further helping to ensure the facts and the experiences of those who were unjustly imprisoned by the U.S. Army, Department of Justice, and War Relocation Authority (WRA) are preserved for future generations. 

When paired with the almost 350,000 records related to Japanese incarceration already available for free within the Ancestry ecosystem, this comprehensive collection of names will allow users to better find their family and explore the other record collections from this time period to provide context and other details about their family and experience. The existing free companion collections include:

“Ancestry has a unique opportunity to preserve the stories of our country’s history, even the challenging ones, and to make that information available to the descendants of those who experienced it firsthand,” says Head of US Content and Philanthropic Initiatives, Dr. Lisa Pearl. “By making this collection and others like it available for free, we invite people to unlock more discoveries about their ancestors and honor their memory.”

Explore and search the new collection and others like it for free here.

About Ancestry®

Ancestry®, the global leader in family history, empowers journeys of personal discovery to enrich lives. With our unparalleled collection of more than 60 billion records, over 3 million subscribers and over 25 million people in our growing DNA network, customers can discover their family story and gain a new level of understanding about their lives. Over the past 40 years, we’ve built trusted relationships with millions of people who have chosen us as the platform for discovering, preserving, and sharing the most important information about themselves and their families.

About the Irei Project

The Irei: National Monument for the WWII Japanese American incarceration is a multi-faceted project that seeks to address the attempted erasure of those individuals of Japanese heritage who experienced wartime incarceration by memorializing their names. By placing their names front and center and memorializing each incarceree as a distinct individual instead of a generalized community, the Irei National Monument Project seeks to expand and re-envision what a monument is through three distinct, but interlinking elements: a sacred book of names as monument (Ireichō), a website monument (Ireizō), and sculptural installations (Ireihi).

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