Finding Your Nikkei Roots

FINDING YOUR NIKKEI ROOTS: Preserve your treasures before it’s too late

April 18, 1906. San Francisco was struck by an earthquake, followed by a devastating fire, which left hundreds of thousands homeless, and which destroyed all of the public records at city hall. Oct. 19, 1991. The Oakland firestorm incinerated nearly 3,000 single-family homes. Nov. 8, 2018. The Camp Fire obliterated 95 percent of the town […]

FINDING YOUR NIKKEI ROOTS: Researching ‘war brides’

…thousands of GIs stationed (or on leave) in Japan, both during and after the occupation, returned home with Japanese wives. Some of these men were Nisei soldiers. There were many reasons why Japanese women married American men. Obviously, many of the couples married for love. But some of the women may have been trying to escape a life of uncertainty in postwar Japan. For some, the allure of a perceived exotic life in a land of riches beckoned them. Others were looking for adventure. Regardless of the reasoning, their stories are interesting and worth documenting.

FINDING YOUR NIKKEI ROOTS: Vital Records — A vitally important part of your family history research

Vital Records are legal documents of major life events. Typically, these are birth, marriage, and death records. Usually they contain critical clues that can help you document your family history. More importantly, these records connect one generation to the next. In order to receive documents in Japan, you must prove your lineage to someone on the koseki; usually this is your Issei ancestor. By gathering vital records, you can prove your lineage through each document that names a set of parents.

FINDING YOUR NIKKEI ROOTS: Read all about it — Using newspapers to build your family tree

Newspapers allow us to see into the historical period in which our ancestors lived. Newspapers help us to understand the general information about a time and place, and they are chock-full of treasures pertaining to the lives of our ancestors. Often, we are able to glean specific details which cannot be found anyplace else: a baby who died; a winter storm on the day an ancestor arrived on Angel Island; the loss of a business after the 1906 earthquake; stories about family and friends; social events, weddings, and funerals; and the day-to-day lives and activities of our family members. FI

FINDING YOUR NIKKEI ROOTS: Traditions: A vital component of family history

The new year celebrations are an opportunity to ensure that your traditions are passed down to your future descendants. Start by creating a journal or calendar of family events, keeping them organized chronologically. Do you celebrate Oshogatsu (Japanese New Year)? If so, how do you do that?

FINDING YOUR NIKKEI ROOTS: What’s all the fuss about DNA?

DNA is all the rage. Television commercials promise us that we can determine our precise ancestral origins. But it’s not quite that simple. People take DNA tests for a variety reasons. Some are looking for ethnicity estimates. Some are looking for health reports. Adoptees might be looking for biological family members. In terms of genealogy, or family history, DNA is very good at helping a researcher to prove a hypothesis, confirm or disprove an existing family tree, identify living relatives, and estimate general ethnic origins. Overall, DNA is a tool to add to your family history research.

FINDING YOUR NIKKEI ROOTS: Census data helps bring family history to life

Writing down your memories helps bring your family history to life. But your family history journey also requires some research. If you are looking to document the homes and addresses of your family members, the U. S. federal census is a good place to begin.

FINDING YOUR NIKKEI ROOTS: Visiting cemeteries

When visiting your deceased family members, there are a few things to remember. In Japan, there are customs for washing the stones, burning incense, and offering food to the ancestors. Even if your ancestors’ remains are in the U.S., there are some tips to remember.

FINDING YOUR NIKKEI ROOTS: Finding your ancestors in passenger records

For Nikkei, finding those immigrant ancestors on passenger records is a good way to begin reconnecting with the past. Do you know when your Issei ancestors arrived in the U.S.? Did they come first to Hawai‘i? Or did they arrive in another port, such as Vancouver, Canada; Seattle; Portland, Ore.; Los Angeles; or San Diego? Did your ancestors first immigrate to Latin America or Canada, and then travel to the U.S.?

FINDING YOUR NIKKEI ROOTS: Remembering those who were incarcerated, and honoring their legacy

February is a time for contemplation in the Nikkei community as we reflect upon the signing of EO9066. This was the order that paved the way for tens of thousands of Nikkei to be unjustly incarcerated, for our loved ones to be detained, for our family members to lose their homes and possessions, and for their lives to be forever changed.
One way to honor the legacy of these individuals is to order their camp files from the National Archives. …

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