Arthur A. Hansen

Art Hansen is Professor Emeritus of History and Asian American Studies at California State University, Fullerton, where he retired in 2008 as the director of the Center for Oral and Public History.  Between 2001 and 2005, he served as Senior Historian at the Japanese American National Museum.

Updated October 2009

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A Nikkei Incarceration Odyssey

The Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i (JCCH) has been responsible — in part — for publishing three remarkable books: Life behind Barbed Wire: The World War II Internment Memoirs of a Hawaii Issei (2008); Family Torn Apart: The Internment Story of the Otokichi Muin Ozaki Family (2012); and An Internment Odyssey: Haisho Tenten (2017).

Taken together, these bountiful volumes have simultaneously achieved the following three ends: substantially enlarged the Japanese immigrant perspective on the World War II Japanese American detention experience; strategically incorporated the Hawai‘i Nikkei involvement in the heretofore mainland-dominated narrative of that experience; and considerably enriched the limited ...

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Portals to the Living Past: World War II/Resettlement Era in Japanese American Denver - Part 2

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Portal 8: Minoru Yasui Plaza – 333 W. Colfax Avenue, Denver CO

Originally constructed as a hotel, this strikingly visible high-rise downtown office building for the City and County of Denver was renamed March 1, 1999, as the Minoru Yasui Plaza after the celebrated Colorado attorney and civil rights leader. Subsequently, it was decided that a bust of Minoru Yasui (1916-1986) would be placed at a prominent location in the lobby, and plans were established to utilize full-wall graphics to present Yasui’s contributions to Denver. Yasui came to Denver in 1944, and as early as 1946 served ...

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Portals to the Living Past: World War II/Resettlement Era in Japanese American Denver - Part 1

Historical Context:

At the time of Japan’s bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, of the roughly 127,000 mainland Japanese American population, two-thirds of them US citizens, the overwhelming majority lived in the three West Coast states of California, Oregon, and Washington, with approximately 94,000 of them California residents.

Colorado’s prewar population of some four thousand Japanese Americans, or Nikkei, was the largest such population among non-Pacific Coast states, though only seven hundred lived in Denver. There, a several-block transitional area along Larimer Street formed a “Japantown” of sorts. This situation in Denver changed quite ...

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A Case Study of Heart Mountain’s Draft Resisters and Military Service

This is Mike Mackey’s fifth and, apparently, final book centered on the World War II experience of the Heart Mountain Relocation Center in northwest Wyoming. Mackey, who has made his home in both Powell and Cody, the two communities nearest to Heart Mountain, is exceedingly well informed on the camp’s history and passionately dedicated to its historical interpretation and legacy.

Accordingly, it has always shocked and saddened me that as a professional historian, Mackey’s knowledge and commitment relative to Heart Mountain has not, for one or another reason, been translated into a teaching position for him at ...

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Hope amid hardship

This altogether beautiful book by noted Seattle-based art historian and curator Barbara Johns strikingly testifies to the oft-stated judgment that a picture is worth a thousand words. The core of The Hope of Another Spring is the astonishing illustrated diary that Issei Takuichi Fujii (1891-1964) fashioned (almost completely) while incarcerated during World War II with his wife and two daughters at the Puyallup Assembly Center (Washington) and the Minidoka Relocation Center (Idaho) concentration camps.

Described in a discerning foreword by renowned historian Roger Daniels as “the most remarkable document created by a Japanese American prisoner during the wartime incarceration ...

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