Digital Project Proposal: Japanese-Americans during World War II


Minoru Masuda, Hana Masuda, Masayo Duus. Each of these names belong to American citizens who, because of their race, suffered discrimination at the hands of the government as well as at the hands of their neighbors during World War II.

During World War II the United States government pursued policies of relocation and internment of American citizens and residents of Japanese descent. Their stories are not all the same however. While some were sent to internment camps, others volunteered for military service and ended up on the front lines in Europe.

The experiences of Japanese-Americans before, during, and immediately after World War II vary significantly based on age, location, and citizenship status. This project aims to provide valuable insight into these experiences beyond the average American’s understanding that Japanese-Americans were interned during the war.


For my project I will create a map that shows the journey of a number of Japanese-Americans, whether born in the United States or in Japan, as they were interned, relocated, deployed, and eventually attempted to return “home” once the war was over.

Google My Maps is a perfect fit for my project. With My Maps I am able to plot every significant location that each person passed through or spent time in. I can use the tools that My Maps provides to mark each location according to who was there and through a variety of customizable tools I can attach easily recognizable symbols to each, allowing interested audience members to focus on specific aspects of the journeys or on the stories of specific people.

This project will visualize the experiences of people whose stories have been covered copiously through text. As relocation and movement is central to their stories however, this project will provide a more easily accessible medium by which audiences can understand and interpret the Japanese-American experience.

Through My Maps I am also able to append images and links to each location, building a more holistic understanding of the material. Rather than flipping back and forth between pages to find an image that corresponds to an anecdote about a place through My Maps I will be able to include images, videos, and even audio clips that can more readily convey the immense emotion integral to these stories. The informative textual element will not be lost however, each element; textual, audio, and visual will tie into one another.

Project Goals

Part of the reason that I am using My Maps for the project is that it is accessible to anyone with access to Google Maps. This means that I can reach a wide audience through various social media platforms. This project is aimed to reach non-academic audiences and connect them directly to stories that are often overlooked in American history.

I can evaluate the success of my project through the use of Google Analytics which can monitor interaction with my map. Google Analytics will tell me important information such as how long people spend viewing my map and which stories they interact with.

2 Replies to “Digital Project Proposal: Japanese-Americans during World War II”

  1. Definitely get in touch with Terumi Rafferty-Osaki, who is an expert on gender and Japanese internment. You can (hopefully) reach him at tr7118a (at)

  2. Mapping out each of these individuals stories of of Japanese-Americans before, during, and immediately after World War II can potentially create an engaging way to explore this history. Google My Maps should be a straightforward way to do this.

    It can be challenging to build out a full narrative in a Google My Map, so you might also consider setting up a site in WordPress where more of your narrative content would live and then link that back and forth to your map. That would also potentially help more folks find your content as the google maps face some challenges for discoverability.

    I’m curious to hear more (potentially when you reflect back on the project at the end) about who you have identified as your audience. It’s great to try and reach a non-academic/broader audience, but to reach such an audience you are likely going to delve into some more work on personas. Is this for K-12 teachers or students? Are Japanese-Americans an audience? How and where will you reach those audiences?

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