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Fall 1998
Shame of a Nation
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Executive Order 9066: The Incarceration of Japanese Americans During World War II, a CD-ROM produced by the UCLA Film and Television Archive in cooperation with L.A.'s Japanese American National Museum (JANM), with financial support from Mitsui and Co., tells that story completely and honestly for the first time. It is also an artistic achievement. Awarded second prize for CD-ROMs by the American Association of Museums, Executive Order 9066, which took 18 months to complete, was christened by the Library Journal, "one of the most powerful and well-produced titles we've ever reviewed."

The interactive CD-ROM is an unblinking account of the incarceration, the events that led up to it and its aftermath. In addition to hundreds of photographs, artwork, personal accounts, chronologies, maps, documents, news clippings and historical essays, the CD-ROM includes more than 30 minutes of archival footage - including sections from UCLA's Hearst Metrotone Newsreel Collection as well as rare home movies taken secretly inside the camps, where cameras were forbidden to internees.

The impetus for the CD-ROM, as well as the source of much of the material, had its roots in a 1994-'95 JANM exhibit, "America's Concentration Camps: Remembering the Japanese American Experience." (The exhibit, including an installation of the CD-ROM, is currently on display at Ellis Island through January 5.)

"When I first saw the exhibit, I was knocked out," says Steve Ricci '76, M.A. '79, Ph.D. '96, head of research and study and director of new media for the Archive. "This was a subject that has been covered so lightly in books and classrooms that it seemed to me there needed to be a way to document it more fully for a wider audience." The way, Ricci concluded, was through interactive technology. He proposed a collaboration in which the Archive would offer its technological expertise to produce and direct the CD-ROM and the curators at JANM would oversee the content.

"CD-ROMs are not like books. They are not like films or documentaries. They are their own media, their own form," Ricci says. "Do you organize the information in a linear fashion, like a book? As a film, with a more temporal unfolding of events? Where do you put the photographs in relation to the text? How do you display video so there is context? These are all design issues which have serious implications for how people digest the information.

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