Building a Statewide Archival Collaborative: The California State University Japanese American Digitization Project

  • Gregory L. William California State University Dominguez Hills
  • Sue Tyson Huntington Library
  • Maureen Burns IMAGinED Consulting
Keywords: California State University, Archives and Special Collections, Japanese American history, World War II, incarceration


This article summarizes the goals, processes, and experiences to date of a California State University Japanese American Digitization project. The Archives and Special Collections on 15 CSU campuses are identifying important Japanese American historical materials; digitizing and describing them at the item level; and, making them searchable, discoverable, and accessible on a central website that is readily available to scholars, students, and interested citizens throughout the United States and world-wide. Digital technology is bringing the geographically disparate CSU collections together in one online location, where additional contextual information and extended resources provide researchers with rich opportunities for finding and interpreting new information. CSU archivists not only want to improve access to humanities collections about Japanese Americans, but also to develop a sustainable model for collaboration amongst the CSU archival and library community that is extensible in the future.


The CSU Japanese American project gratefully acknowledges the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities with a Humanities Collections and Reference Resources Foundations grant (2014-2015) and the National Park Service with Japanese American Confinement Sites Program grant (2015-2017). The technical support and advice of the California Digital Library and Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project are also much appreciated. Thank you to all of the collaborating CSU archivists and a debt of gratitude goes to Tom Philo, Cataloger and Archivist at CSU Dominguez Hills, who has taken on more of the centralized work than originally planned.

Author Biographies

Gregory L. William, California State University Dominguez Hills

Greg Williams has been an archivist and curator for 35 years at CSUDH, San Diego Historical Society, Rutgers University, Colonial Williamsburg and elsewhere. He has served as photo editor for three coffee table books, received several grants (six NHPRC, four NEH) and curated several exhibitions. He is the author of CSU Dominguez Hills, 2010 and several other publications.

Sue Tyson, Huntington Library

Sue Tyson is a project archivist at the Huntington Library. Prior to this, she has worked as a special collections archivist at the Getty Research Institute; a Mellon Postdoctoral Digital Scholarship Fellow at Occidental College; and a project archivist and librarian at the University of Southern California. She holds a Post-MLIS Archival Studies certificate from UCLA, an MLIS from San Jose State University, and a Ph.D. in German Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Maureen Burns, IMAGinED Consulting

Maureen Burns is an information professional with over 25 years of experience developing and managing teaching resources of analog and digital images at UC Irvine, the Getty Villa, and CSULB. Presently working on a consulting basis, through IMAGinED, Burns is handling sales for Archivision and is partnering on a CSU Archives Japanese American history digitization project as well as other image-focused work. She is currently serving as the Content Editor for the online VRA Bulletin and participating in the work of VRA’s Slide and Transitional Media Task Force, Financial Advisory Committee, and International Committee. She is also a past VRA president and past director of the VRA Foundation.

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