Event Details

Righting a Wrong/Preserving a Legacy Exhibition Opening

Righting a Wrong/Preserving a Legacy Exhibition Opening

Join us for the public opening of the Smithsonian exhibition "Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and World War II" and the History Nebraska and Legacy of the Plains Museum exhibition "Preserving a Legacy: Japanese in Nebraska"

Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and World War II, a traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian, examines the complicated history and impact of Executive Order 9066 which led to the incarceration of 75,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry and 45,000 Japanese nationals following the attack on Pearl Harbor. Young and old lived crowded together in hastily built camps, endured poor living conditions, and were under the constant watch of military guards for two and a half years. Meanwhile, brave Japanese American men risked their lives fighting for the United States. Some 40 years later, members of the Japanese American community led the nation to confront the wrong it had done—and urged Congress to make it right.

Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and World War II was developed by the National Museum of American History and adapted for travel by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. The national tour received federal support from the Asian Pacific American Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, the Terasaki Family Foundation, and C. L. Ehn & Ginger Lew.


In partnership with Legacy of the Plains Museum in Gering, we are pleased to present the exhibition “Preserving a Legacy: Japanese in Nebraska” to expand on the story told by the traveling Smithsonian exhibition “Righting a Wrong.” The story of Japanese Americans in Nebraska is filled with hope and support in the state. This exhibit strives to tell these stories.

Japanese immigrants first settled in Hawaii and the Pacific Coast. By 1940, California alone had 93,000 residents of Japanese ancestry. Nebraska then had about 510 residents of Japanese ancestry. About 30 percent were first-generation immigrants, called the Issei. They were not allowed to become U.S. citizens. The other 70 percent were called the Nisei. They were native-born U.S. citizens.

Japanese Nebraskans lived mostly in western farming communities. They worked on farms and in stockyards, in hospitality and domestic service, in professions, and as entrepreneurs. Omaha’s small Japanese community included Harry Watanabe, who founded the Oriental Trading Company in 1932.

Unlike the West Coast, Nebraska Japanese were not incarcerated during World War II, but some lost jobs and community leaders were arrested and questioned. Japanese immigrants were designated “enemy aliens.” Newspapers across the state reprinted warnings that they and their U.S.-born children might act as spies and saboteurs.

Some Nebraskans responded with anti-Japanese hostility. Others spoke against mass incarceration and even hastened the release of those incarcerated by opening jobs to workers and enrollment to students.

Nebraskans of Japanese ancestry have led the way in righting the wrongs of the 1940s, honoring the rights and dignity of all Americans today.

This exhibit is made possible thanks to the partnership with Legacy of the Plains Museum in Gering, NE.

Righting and Wrong and Preserving a Legacy are graciously supported by Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing Corp, U.S.A.

Help Shape History

Become a Member

Being a member is the easiest way to be involved in our mission to preserve and share our state's rich history. Find out how!

Volunteer

Volunteers work with History Nebraska staff members to support our mission

Start Your Career

Interested in joining the History Nebraska team? Keep an eye on job listings!
About History Nebraska
History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
Explore Nebraska
Discover the real places and people of our past at these History Nebraska sites.

Upcoming Events

View our new and upcoming events to see how you can get involved.

Become a Member

The work we do to discover, preserve, and share Nebraska's history wouldn't be possible without the support of History Nebraska members.

History Nebraska Education

Learn more about the educational programs provided at our museums, sites, and online.

Education Digital Learning Resources

Find games, lists, and more to enhance your history education curriculum.

History Nebraska Programs

Learn more about the programs associated with History Nebraska.

Latest Hall of Fame Inductee

The Nebraska Hall of Fame was established in 1961 to officially recognize prominent Nebraskans.

Listen to our Podcast

Listen to the articles and authors published in the Nebraska History Magazine with our new Nebraska History Podcast!

Nebraska Collections

History Nebraska's mission is to collect, preserve, and open our shared history to all Nebraskans.

Our YouTube Video Collection

Get a closer look at Nebraska's history through your own eyes, with our extensive video collections.

Additional Research Resources

History Nebraska Research and Reference Services help connect you to the material we collect and preserve.

History Nebraska Services

Digital Resources

Find all of our digital resources, files, videos, and more, all in one easy-to-search page!

Support History Nebraska
Make a cash donation to help us acquire, preserve, and interpret Nebraska’s history. Gifts to History Nebraska help leave a legacy and may help your taxes, too! Support the work of History Nebraska by donating to the History Nebraska Foundation today.

Volunteers are the heroes of History Nebraska. So much history, so little time! Your work helps us share access to Nebraska’s stories at our museums and sites, the reference room, and online.