Developing New Methods of Digitizing and Curating Socially and Politically Important Historical Records

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Making information widely available to meet the needs of individuals, researchers at the iSchool's Digital Curation Innovation Center (DCIC) are developing new methods of digitizing and curating socially and politically important historical records.  These new approaches are expected to contribute to and enhance two new educational iSchool programs:  (1) the post-master's Curation and Management of Digital Assets (CMDA) Certificate, which will welcome its first cohort of 15 mid-career professionals in June 2015 (see:, and (2) the upcoming Archives and Digital Curation specialization in the fall of 2015.

On May 4, the iSchool welcomed distinguished visitors and members of the public interested in the experiences of Japanese-Americans during WWII.  This included student presentations, a luncheon, and a documentary public screening and coincided with the completion of a semester-long student-led FIA-Deutsch Seed Grant project.  Wednesday, May 6 also featured the official FIA Seed Grant student presentations.

Three of the Monday, May 4, guests from California included Dr. Satsuki Ina, a scholar and filmmaker born in the Tule Lake Camp, who screened one of her "From a Silk Cocoon" documentary in the afternoon, Barbara Takei, from the Tule Lake Committee and author of "Tule Lake Revisited", and Larisa Proulx, from the National Park Service at Tule Lake.  Other guests included, Michael Haley Goldman, from the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, staff from the National Archives and Records Administration (John Martinez, Markus Most, and Martha Murphy), and Dr. Yukako Tastsumi, curator of the Gordon W. Prange Collection and East Asian Studies Librarian at the U. of Maryland.

1. FIA Seed Project Presentation:

The morning started out with students presenting their Seed Grant work in the CurateLab, the new design and interaction space of the Digital Curation Innovation Center lab, and receiving feedback and guidance from the invited guests.

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This $25,000 Seed Grant project was one of 4 competitive grants funded through the UMD Future of Information Alliance and involved 2 faculty mentors (Richard Marciano, College of Information Studies, and Nicholas Diakopoulos, Philip Merrill College of Journalism), and 7 students:

  • Drew Barker, MLS, College of Information Studies
  • James Howland, MLS, College of Information Studies
  • Emily Keithley, MLS, College of Information Studies
  • Liz Tobey, MLS, College of Information Studies
  • Karen Mawdsley, BA, Philip Merrill College of Journalism


  • Dilip Bharadwaj, MIM, College of Information Studies
  • Diane Travis, Ph.D., College of Information Studies


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Student Projects


The project, called "Revisiting Segregation through Computational History: the Case of the WWII Japanese American Tule Lake Segregation Center", explored the integration of archival and user-contributed data and investigated and prototyped a GIS platform that links people, places, and events from distributed sources. The approach was based on a case study involving WWII Japanese American incarceration camp archival records from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). These records were examined for their potential to generate new forms of archival analysis and historical research engagement at the Tule Lake Unit, a recently established National Monument of the National Park Service (NPS) through a December 2008 Presidential proclamation. The project worked closely with NARA staff from the Office of Innovation and Research Services, and NPS staff from the NPS Tule Lake Unit, as well as prominent Tule Lake historians, colleagues from King’s College London, and experts from the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.


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Collaborators and Partners


The aim is to build a platform for the integration of a number of distributed digital sources including significant sources from NARA:

  • Camp "incident cards" data (persons, dates, events, locations)
  • Japanese-American Internee database of 109,000 names
  • 4,100 online WRA photos
  • Architectural camp records

The approach is inspired by the Digital Harlem Project, which developed a digital platform to query, map, and visualize legal records of ordinary citizens in Black Harlem between 1915 and 1930. The Tule Lake project investigates and prototypes a platform that also links people, places, and events from distributed sources in a way that brings that archive to life as a resource for investigation and storytelling.

An innovative partnership was initiated with NARA to digitize, OCR, and access records from  the War Relocation Authority (RG 210), Index to Internal Security Cases, 1942 – 1946 (NAID 1548726), and include 21 linear feet of cards (so called "incident cards").

The process:

  • Scan and OCR the "incident cards".
  • Cull names from the OCR text and captured in a database.
  • Check names against the full database of internees (also part of RG210), which includes birthdates.
  • Identify names as being those of juveniles (under 18) and redact them from the database of names and from the scanned card images before their delivery to the iSchool DCIC Center. 

Status at the time of the final presentation:

  • NARA staff have digitized the incident cards (lease and delivery of a straight-feed scanner came from the iSchool DCIC Center).
  • The data is being checked to ensure that FOIA b(6) redactions are made. Names of any juveniles will be redacted from data and images.
  • Once the data set is ready, they will be delivered to the iSchool DCIC for their further analysis, linking, and mash-up with other NARA data and materials.

Students researched the integration of a number of data sources we wish to "mash-up": historical photos, oral histories, public records, newsletters and yearbooks, so-called camp incident-cards, maps and graph archives.  A number of hands-on sessions were scheduled with the use of QGIS open-source and interactive mapping software, Tableau analytics, and graph database analyses of camp internee data.  In addition, Dr. Katie Shilton, iSchool faculty, worked with 5 teams of students in her INST641 "Policy Issues in Digital Curation" class, to explore privacy issues and policies related to the use of the "incident card" data.


Interactive Map of Tule Lake (Drew Barker with Dilip Bharadwaj and Scott Madry -- and initial support from CyArk)


Graph Database Modeling and Visualization of  People Deported to Tule Lake Clustered by City of Origin


Graph Database Modeling and Visualization of a the Movements of a Satsuki Ina's Family within the Camp System


Related events:


Seed Grant Team: Honored at the 2015 UMD Celebration of Innovation (March 24)

MIM Capstone Project: poster presentation by Dilip Bharadwaj (May 11, 2015)


 2. Documentary Public Screening:

On Monday, May 4 the iSchool and the Digital Curation Innovation Center (DCIC) hosted a movie screening on the Tule Lake Segregation Center.  The documentary was "From a Silk Cocoon," on the World War II internment of Japanese Americans, and included Q&A with producer, writer, and director Dr. Satsuki Ina. The documentary featured Dr. Ina's own family's experience in the Tule Lake Segregation Center.

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Dr. Satsuki Ina


About Satsuki Ina: Satsuki Ina was born in the Tule Lake Segregation Center, one of the ten American concentration camps during World War II.  Her father, Itaru Ina was separated from the family and interned in Bismarck, North Dakota, a Department of Justice camp for enemy aliens after he renounced his American citizenship.  Dr. Ina is currently a psychotherapist in private practice specializing in the treatment of childhood trauma.  She serves as a consultant to educational, cultural and religious communities regarding sexual abuse, the psychological impact of racism, and cross-cultural communications. With the production team of Hesono O Productions, she has produced, written, and directed two documentary films, Children of the Camps (2000) and From A Silk Cocoon (2007).  Both films have been broadcast nationally on PBS and From A Silk Cocoon was awarded the Northern California Emmy for outstanding historical and cultural program. Dr. Ina is currently working on the book version of From A Silk Cocoon, titled, The Poet and the Silk Girl:  Love Letters from an American Concentration Camp.

About the film: The discovery of a small metal box leads to the uncovering of a family story, shrouded in silence for more than 60 years. Woven through their censored letters, diary entries, and haiku poetry, is the true story of a young Japanese American couple whose shattered dreams and forsaken loyalties lead them to renounce their American citizenship while held in separate prison camps during World War II. They struggle to prove their innocence and fight deportation during a time of wartime hysteria and racial profiling.

About the screening event:  A public event with about 50 people took place at the UMD Student Union on Monday, May 4, 2015 at 4 p.m.

Dr. Satsuki Ina, Richard Marciano (iSchool / DCIC), Markus Most (NARA's Office of Innovation)


Introduction: by Larisa Proulx (National Park Service Tule Lake Unit)



Presentations: by Dr. Susan Winter (iSchool) and Dr. Michael Kurtz (DCIC Center)



Q&A: by Dr. Satsuki Ina with an audience of 50 people


3. Wednesday May 6, Final FIA Center Presentation:

List of the 4 winning teams and presenters at:


Student Presentation: Drew Barker & Liz Tobey ----- Q&A: with the 5 Students from the Funded Project



Feedback and Public Comments from Larisa Proulx from the National Park Service Tule Lake Unit (and FIA Co-Director, Allison Druin)



Left to right: James Howland, Nick Diakopoulos, Emily Keithley, Richard Marciano, Liz Tobey, Karen Mawdsley, Larisa Proulx (NPS Tule Lake Unit), Drew Barker

For more information, contact Dr. Michael Kurtz, Associate Director of the Digital Curation Innovation Center
e-mail:, phone: (301) 405-7907.