February 19, 2007
Sacramento State Bulletin

Robert Matsui’s legacy lives on in digital archive

Photo: Robert T. Matsui on the phone in his Congressional office.
Robert T. Matsui on the phone in his Congressional office.

Sacramento State has developed a new digital archive focused on the late Congressman Robert T. Matsui’s leadership in gaining redress and reparations for Japanese Americans interned during World War II.

The online collection features video clips, photographs, speeches and more. It can be accessed at

Major funding for the project was provided by the California State Library, California Civil Liberties Public Education Program.

The unveiling of the archive will be celebrated on Feb. 19, the “Day of Remembrance” and the 65th anniversary of Executive Order No. 9066, which authorized the removal of 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry from West Coast states. Congresswoman Doris O. Matsui, representative of the 5th Congressional District of California and Sacramento State and professor Tim Fong say there is a wealth of information in the new archive.

The digital archive is designed for a number of different audiences.

“We wanted to let the public know about the important contributions that Robert
Matsui made in the areas of reparations and redress,” says Fong, who directs the Asian American studies program at Sacramento State. “We believe that this digital archive will be widely used by students and teachers, from elementary school through high school, as well as colleges, researchers and anyone interested in American history.”

The archive contains digital reproductions of historical photographs, videos and audio clips, newspaper articles, speeches and congressional documents gathered from the Library of Congress and other government sources, media outlets and Congresswoman Matsui.

It is its multi-media approach that makes the archive such a dynamic tool for learning. “This balance between visuals and text manages to capture the essence of this important national leader at a pivotal period in his life,” Fong says. “Nowhere else can you get this history in such a compelling format. It establishes Sacramento State as a leader in multi-media digital archives.”

Sacramento State also has a digital archive featuring items from its extensive Japanese American Archival Collection, and in recent years developed a digital collection focused on African American slavery in California. These are available at

Redress and reparations for Japanese Americans was a cause close to Matsui’s heart. Prior to World War II, the Matsui family lived in Sacramento and, in 1942, were moved to an assembly center and an internment camp. The experience left a lasting mark. Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1978, Matsui was committed to civil rights and equal justice throughout his 26 years of congressional service.

In 1988, Matsui and others helped shape and shepherd the Japanese American Redress Act (HR 442) through Congress. It offered monetary compensation and a formal apology for the World War II internment of Japanese Americans. The legislation was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan on August 10, 1988.

Matsui also played a major role in getting Manzanar (one of the 10 internment camps) designated as a National Historic Site and helped secure land on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. for the Japanese American Memorial to commemorate Japanese American patriotism during World War II.

The new digital archive is online at

For more information, contact the University Library’s Special Collections and University Archives at 278-6144.

For media assistance, contact the Sacramento State Public Affairs office at 278-6156.


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