Finding Your Nikkei Roots

FINDING YOUR NIKKEI ROOTS: A global pandemic equals a family history opportunity

We certainly are living through unusual times. With the pandemic, most of us are still sheltering in place, wearing masks to the market, and desperately missing physical contact with our closest friends and extended family members. What’s interesting to me is that while many people are stressed with the changes, others are thriving. I’m a […]

FINDING YOUR NIKKEI ROOTS: Organizing your genealogy files

Camp records. Census records. Death certificates. Pedigree charts. Photographs. Probate files. At some point, you will realize that you have an ever-growing collection of family history documents. Do you have a filing system that works? Or do you have a disorganized mess of unlabeled items? Perhaps you use the “stack of papers on the dining room table” filing system. Or, the “stick it in one folder on your computer desktop” method.

FINDING YOUR NIKKEI ROOTS: Navigating genealogy Websites — Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org

Genealogical information can be found in a plethora of locations. Of course, not everything is online, but quite a bit IS available digitally. There are many sources of online material, including public and private libraries, universities, Internet Archive, Library of Congress (LoC.gov), the National Archives (Archives.gov) and Densho.org. Some of the best searches begin simply […]

FINDING YOUR NIKKEI ROOTS: Once Upon a Time — Preserve your family history through storytelling

Family stories are just as important to your family history as names, dates and places. Perhaps they are even more important because the stories are what connect past generations to future ones. According to Aaron Holt, an archives technician at the National Archives in Fort Worth, Texas, “it only takes three generations to lose a piece of oral family history… it must be purposely and accurately repeated over and over again through the generations to be preserved for a genealogist today.”

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.

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