Christian Heimburger

Christian Heimburger received a Ph.D. in modern American history from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and wrote his doctoral dissertation on Japanese Americans who left World War II incarceration camps to work in communities around the Mountain West. He is currently working on a book manuscript based on that dissertation. Christian recently published an article in the Spring 2018 issue of Utah Historical Quarterly that examines the history of Nikkei incarceration and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and how the citizens of the state of Utah memorialize these dark chapters in history. He is currently employed as a historian and documentary editor in the history department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Updated January 2019

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Leonard Arrington: Groundbreaking Historian of Japanese Americans

In May 1962, Utah State University professor Leonard Arrington delivered a remarkable lecture on Japanese American confinement to his peers in Logan, Utah. It was one of the earliest scholarly examinations of Nikkei incarceration camps. Just how a middle-aged scholar specializing in Mormon history came to research and write about the ordeal of Japanese Americans during World War II forms something of a saga in itself.

Leonard Arrington was born in 1917 and raised in the sleepy southern Idaho town of Twin Falls. His parents, Noah and Edna, had migrated to the area after the Bureau of Reclamation built a ...

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The Undiscovered History of Japanese Americans and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - Part 2

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As mentioned, throughout the prewar years Japanese Americans, especially those in the Intermountain West, developed connections of different kinds with members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or LDS church. To show their appreciation to the Mormon church for its friendly attitude toward Japan, in April 1941 a group of Salt Lake Japanese Americans, led by Mike Masaoka, presented 25 Japanese cherry trees for planting around the Mormon Tabernacle. This relationship would be tested by World War II and by the wartime removal and confinement of Issei and Nisei from the West Coast.

At ...

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The Undiscovered History of Japanese Americans and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - Part 1

A rather unsuspected but significant force in Japanese American life has been the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (whose members are commonly known as Latter-day Saints or Mormons—the latter name derives from the Book of Mormon, the Church’s key scriptural text).

Throughout the first half of the 20th century, LDS congregations and missionaries interacted with Japanese communities in different locations, even as thousands of Japanese Americans subjected to official confinement in Utah and Idaho during World War II came into close contact with LDS church members. While relatively few Japanese Americans took up the faith during ...

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