This exhibition explores the construction of the first Transcontinental Railroad and its impact on American westward expansion. The First Transcontinental Railroad, approved by Congress in the midst of war, helped connect the country in ways never before possible. Americans could travel from coast to coast with speed, changing how Americans lived, traded, and communicated while disrupting ways of life practiced for centuries by Native American populations. The coast-to-coast railroad was the result of the work of thousands of Americans, many of whom were Chinese immigrant laborers who worked under discriminatory pressures and for lower wages than their Irish counterparts.
Produced by the Japanese-Americans interned at assembly centers and relocation centers around the country during World War II, these newspapers provide a unique look into the daily lives of the people who were held in these camps. They include articles written in English and Japanese, typed, handwritten and drawn. They advertise community events, provide logistical information about the camps and relocation, report on news from the community, and include editorials.
The Library of Congress is home to a noteworthy collection of rare Persian language manuscripts, lithographic books and early imprints, as well as printed books, housed in the African and Middle Eastern Division (AMED) and the Rare Book and Special Collections Division. Most of these Persian manuscripts and lithographic books were procured for the Library in the 1930s by Kirkor Minassian (1874-1944), a renowned dealer in fine Islamic and Near Eastern arts with establishments both in New York and Paris.
In 2007, after receiving a mandate and annual appropriation from Congress, the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Collection was established in the Library of Congress Asian Division. The collection was developed after a survey of collections in the Library of Congress delineated AAPI primary and reference sources housed in multiple divisions. Furthermore, much of the collection material is in English. Also included within these collections are some material in Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Tagalog, and other Pacific Islander, South Asian, and Southeast Asian languages. The AAPI Collection consists of papers and collections from individuals and organizations such as sociologist and historian Betty Lee Sung, author Jade Snow Wong, social worker Royal Morales, author and analyst Juanita Tamayo Lott, historian E. San Juan Jr., graphic artist James N. Miho, playwright Philip Kan Gotanda, playwright Velina Hasu Houston, and Mu Performing Arts.
On December 7, 1941, Imperial Japan attacked a US naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Pre-existing racial tensions and “yellow peril” hysteria magnified as the American public grew increasingly suspicious of Japanese Americans and uncertain of their loyalty. They were regarded as potential spies and anti-Japanese propaganda quickly spread.
Then, on February 19, 1942, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066. 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry (two-thirds of whom were US citizens) were forced to evacuate from their homes and report to assembly centers. From there, they were moved to one of ten internment camps, or War Relocation Centers, located in remote areas of seven states—California, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, and Arkansas. This exhibition tells stories of everyday lives in Japanese Internment camps during World War II.