Manzanar is one of the ten sites of Japanese American World War II incarceration where the US government confined people Japanese ancestry, two-thirds who were U.S. citizens. In the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, public concerns regarding the safety and defense of the West Coast intensified. These concerns, in combination with pre-existing anti-Japanese prejudice and fears of espionage, led to Executive Order 9066, signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on February 19, 1942. This order granted the U.S. government the authority to forcibly remove just over 120,000 U.S. citizens of Japanese descent from their homes and communities. People confined at Manzanar and the other nine military-style camps experienced heavily crowded conditions with little privacy. While Manzanar formally closed on November 21, 1945, it was not until 1983 that the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians recognized that the exclusion and detentions of persons of Japanese descent “were not determined by military conditions but were the result of race prejudice, war hysteria, and failure of political leadership,” a recognition that led to the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 in which the U.S. Government issued a formal apology to former incarcerees for violating their civil and constitutional rights.
Manzanar is part of the collection World War II Japanese American Confinement Sites, a digital documentation and reconstruction project supported by a grant from the National Park Service's Japanese American Confinement Sites (JACS) Grant Program. More information about Manzanar and the JACS collection will be available in the near future. We encourage you to visit the Densho Digital Archive and the Manzanar National Historic Site website for more information at this time.