It is impossible to tell the story of San Jose—or San Jose State—without acknowledging the contributions and sacrifices of the Japanese-American community. From Norman Mineta, San Jose’s first Japanese-American mayor and the U.S. Secretary of Transportation under President George W. Bush, to Yoshihiro Uchida, ’47 Biological Science, ’04 Honorary Doctorate, SJSU’s legendary judo coach who served in World War II while his own family was interned, thousands of local Japanese and Japanese-American residents were instructed by executive order to relocate to internment and incarceration camps during World War II. On May 24 and 25, 1942, the San Jose State building now known as Yoshihiro Uchida Hall served as a registration center for 2,487 people of Japanese descent before they were forcibly removed to 11 camps across the nation—a cross-section of the 120,000 that were incarcerated for periods of up to four years.
Seventy-five years later, artifacts relating to the internment of Japanese-Americans are on display at Special Collections and Archives at SJSU’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library. Visitors can view posters describing Executive Order 9066, authorized by President Franklin Roosevelt, and items from the Japanese American Museum of San Jose and the private collection of Ralph Pearce. The collection is presented in conjunction with the CSU Japanese American History Digitization Project, a joint archive of the California State University system. Because many of the 23 campuses are located near internment sites across the state, the collection offers a unique opportunity for scholars to access resources that reflect the complexity of a chilling era in American history.