Finding Your Nikkei Roots

FINDING YOUR NIKKEI ROOTS: Writing your family history (part 2): Adding context to your story

Where were your ancestors during the 1906 earthquake and fire? Last November, I wrote about the “Gift of Family History.” In that article, I explained that “writing your family history is a way to give your ancestors a voice. Use documents, photographs, and family heirlooms to create the framework from which you bring your ancestors […]

FINDING YOUR NIKKEI ROOTS: What’s your plan?

Many of you began your family history journey in 2020 when you had extra time during the COVID-19 quarantine. While you might not be celebrating Oshogatsu with your loved ones this year (at least not in person), it might be the perfect time to connect with those “other” family members, your ancestors. As you move […]

FINDING YOUR NIKKEI ROOTS: The gift of family history

The holiday season is practically upon us. Have you wondered what unique gifts you might give your extended family? What about a gift of family history? Perhaps you’ve been researching your family for months, or even years. You know that there is always another record to find, another tidbit to uncover. And you might feel […]

FINDING YOUR NIKKEI ROOTS: Where are you really from?

This column is all about teaching Nikkei to find their roots. For many of you, those roots are ethnically, racially or culturally mixed. Perhaps you are a Japanese American married to someone of eastern European ancestry. Perhaps you adopted multiracial children of unknown ancestry. Maybe your mother was a war bride married to an African […]

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.

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