Then They Came for Me: Incarceration of Japanese Americans During WWII and the Demise of Civil Liberties

then they came for me 8 Dorothea Lange San Francisco California April 25 1942 National Archives 1200 incarceration of japanese americans

FEBRUARY 18 – MAY 29, 2022


What does an American look like? Who gets to decide? 

Then They Came for Me: Incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII and the Demise of Civil Liberties examines the terrifying period in U.S. history when the government scapegoated and imprisoned thousands of people of Japanese ancestry.

About the Exhibit

This exhibit tells the story of the forced removal of 120,000 Japanese American citizens and legal residents from their homes during World War II without due process or other constitutional protections to which they were entitled. It illustrates the impact this fear-based rebuke has on those who experience it firsthand and the lasting repercussions on the generations that followed.

The multimedia exhibit features imagery by noted American photographers Dorothea Lange and Ansel Adams, alongside works by incarcerated Japanese American artist Toyo Miyatake and artifacts from the Chicago-based Japanese American Service Committee collection.

This exhibition examines the history of emigration from Japan to America, the responses of the American people and government to it, and traces the lives of Japanese Americans after the War as they struggled to reestablish their shattered lives. This narrative reflects distressing parallels to the discrimination, intolerance and governmental policies surrounding the historical and current immigration and refugee crisis in America and around the world.

Special Thanks

Admission is FREE through May 29, 2022, due to a generous donation from The Yabuki Family Foundation.

Special thanks to the Japanese American Citizens League WI Chapter for their partnership and friendship. For additional educational opportunities, view selections of their Oral History Project interviews.

Virtual Opening Preview of Then They Came For Me
Thursday, February 17, 7:00 PM

Thursday, March 10, 6:00 PM
Location: Milwaukee Art Museum

From Citizens to Enemy Aliens: Japanese Americans and the History of Anti-Asian Xenophobia
Tuesday, March 15, 7:00 PM

Virtual Film Screening – ALTERNATIVE FACTS: The Lies of Executive Order 9066
Sunday, March 20 – Saturday, April 2

Book Talk – Setsuko’s Secret: Heart Mountain and the Legacy of the Japanese American Incarceration
Tuesday, April 12, 7:00 PM

Japanese American Activism, Civil Rights and Broader Immigration Issues
Thursday, May 12, 7:00 PM

Intergenerational Trauma Stemming from Incarceration
Thursday, May 19, 7:00 PM

442nd Regimental Combat Team and Segregation in the Military
Wednesday, May 25, 7:00 PM

Argosy Foundation
Linda and Eli Frank

Anonymous Foundation of the Jewish Community Foundation
Nina and Richard Edelman

Jonathan and Amy Li Ansfield, Joan Becker Friedman and Mike Friedman, Sharon and Richard Canter, Green Bay Packers Foundation, Leslie Hayes, Nathan and Esther Pelz Holocaust Education Resource Center, Avi and Dannette Lank, Adam Shapiro, Jason Steigman and Dori Frankel Steigman
Media Sponsor: Wisconsin Public Radio
In Kind: Ron and Christine Kuramoto, Kevin Miyazaki, Cheryl Lund Miyazaki, Dave Suyama, Kathy Yullie

Then They Came for Me was originated in Chicago by the Alphawood Foundation with the support and cooperation of the Japanese American Service Committee of Chicago.

It also appeared in modified form at the International Center of Photography in New York and at the Presidio, San Francisco, made possible there through the generosity of the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation of Oakland, California.

Jewish Museum Milwaukee’s presentation of Then They Came for Me represents an abridged and modified version of the original exhibition.

ABOUT JEWISH MUSEUM MILWAUKEE: The Jewish Museum Milwaukee is dedicated to preserving and presenting the history of the Jewish people in southeastern Wisconsin and celebrating the continuum of Jewish heritage and culture. The history of American Jews is rooted in thousands of years of searching for freedom and equality. We are committed to sharing this story and the life lessons it brings with it, so that we may enhance the public’s awareness and appreciation of Jewish life and culture. We are committed to building bridges between diverse groups through shared history and to exploring contemporary issues through the lens of Jewish history, culture and values.

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