Uprooted: Effects of WWII incarceration on Japanese American Families

UPROOTED is an interactive multimedia experience about the multigenerational effects of Japanese American incarceration during World War II — from the West Coast to Chicago. The three families featured were selected from more than 100 oral histories of other resilient individuals for the depth and range of their collective experiences. You can view a selection of other interviews with Chicago-area Japanese Americans here.

Thanks to the many teachers and students who participated in surveys and interviews that informed the design of this web experience. This project is dedicated to Minoru Imamura, who passed away on February 24, 2021.

Written and produced by Katherine Nagasawa

Web design and development
Paula Friedrich

Illustrations
Cori Nakamura Lin

Video production assistance
Matthew Zhou


This is the first of two projects I worked on with producer Kat Nagasawa. My illustrations contributed to a multimedia curriculum– including interactive interviews and archival material– intended for educational settings. The content braids together the stories of three Japanese American families across three generations, tracking the experiences and reactions through space (from the West Coast to Chicago) and time (from the Sansei generation to the Yonsei generation).

Kat and I collaborated on critical narrative choices at every stage of production. I created the initial project moodboard based on signage from 1940’s & 50’s JA neighborhoods and traditional Japanese patterns. In the end I created a unique color story and ‘origami paper’ pattern for each family based on themes from their resettlement story. Kat and I also decided to incorporate kintsugi imagery on the landing page as a way to emphasize the themes of recreation and trauma healing. The full website features illustrated portraits, quotes, chapter headers, and small icons that add depth and distinction to these preciously documented narratives.