Asian American Heritage

Examine collections of the Museum's key resources on major themes in American history and social studies teaching.  Additional resources can be found in the main search areas of the website.

Asian American Heritage

Explore immigration stories, consider life in a Japanese internment camp during World War II, and help students understand the contributions of Asian Pacific Americans with these resources. 

Exploring Perception and Reality in the Story of the Hawaiian Islands

Grade Range: 6-12
Resource Type(s): Primary Source, Interactives & Media, Reference Materials
Duration: 13 Minutes
Date Posted: 4/28/2010

Uncover the story of the Hawaiian Islands through artifacts, images, audio, and text. This page features a short introductory essay, audio clips related to specific museum artifacts, and an enhanced podcast.

In the podcast, two curators discuss the stories behind several artifacts related to Hawai'i. Their discussion covers immigration, the popularization of Hawai'i as a tourist destination, and Hawaii's agricultural origins. Finally, they encourage students to consider perception and reality in the context of their own communities.

History Explorer Podcast: Japanese Internment and WWII Service

Grade Range: 6-12
Resource Type(s): Interactives & Media, Primary Source
Date Posted: 2/15/2012

In this episode of the History Explorer podcast series, curatorial assistant Noriko Sanefuji interviews Grant Ichikawa, a US veteran who enlisted after being relocated to a Japanese American internment camp with his family in 1942.Allowed to join the army after a need for interpreters, Mr. Ichikawa served proudly and in 2011, he and other veterans were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for his service.

Japanese Americans and the U.S. Constitution Homepage

Grade Range: 4-12
Resource Type(s): Reference Materials
Date Posted: 6/10/2008

In this online exhibition, students will explore the experiences of Japanese Americans who were placed in internment camps during World War II, a period of history when racial prejudice and fear upset the delicate balance between the rights of citizens and the power of the state. The story is told through interactive galleries that combine photographs, objects, oral histories, and first-person accounts. Students will be able to share their responses to what they have learned on a comment board that is included in the exhibition as well as search more than 800 artifacts from the Smithsonian Collection. Also included are links to related activities, Web sites, a bibliography and more resources about this topic. A non-flash version of the site is available at

Life in a WWII Japanese American Internment Camp Homepage

Grade Range: K-4
Resource Type(s): Reference Materials, Lessons & Activities
Date Posted: 6/10/2008

In this OurStory module entitled Life in a WWII Japanese American Internment Camp, students will learn about the lives of Japanese American children who were forced to leave their homes and move to internment camps during World War II. The module includes links to hands-on activities, pertinent websites, and a list of recommended readings. OurStory is a series of modules designed to help children and adults enjoy exploring history together through the use of objects from the Museum's vast collections, quality children's literature, and engaging hands-on activities. Ideal for afterschool use, OurStory resources allow students to think critically, to be creative, and to achieve academic standards both in and out of the classroom.

On the Water: Stories from Maritime America Homepage

Grade Range: 3-12
Resource Type(s): Reference Materials
Date Posted: 5/21/2009

Students will understand the importance of maritime activity throughout the United States' history. Objects from the Museum's collections, audio and video clips, oral histories and narrative accounts provide a unique look into the maritime history of the United States. An interactive collections search, learning resources, and an extensive list of web links are included to extend the experience further. This online exhibition focuses on boats, ships and the lives of the men and women who lived, worked, traveled and died on them.

Immigration, Migration, and How We Got There - Electronic Field Trip Part 1

Grade Range: 4-8
Resource Type(s): Interactives & Media
Duration: 28 Minutes
Date Posted: 7/7/2008

This electronic field trip was designed to introduce grades 4–8 to the America on the Move exhibition on transportation in U.S. history. Curators and a student host visit the exhibition and examine the impact of immigration and migration and the influence of various forms of transportation on American history.

Congressional Gold Medal Experience

Grade Range: 3-12
Resource Type(s): Web Link
Date Posted: 5/16/2013

Nearly seven decades after the beginning of World War II, the Congressional Gold Medal was bestowed on the Japanese American men who served with bravery and valor on the battlefield, even while their families were held in internment camps by the very country for which they fought. Through videos, discussion forums, and three lesson plans, the Congressional Gold Medal Experience site focuses on how the stories of the honorees reflect outstanding character traits, such as courage and perseverance. This site was produced through collaboration between the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center and the National Veterans Network.

Baseball Saved Us

Author: Ken Mochizuki
Reading Level: Early Elementary School
Genre: Fiction
Awards: Scott O'Dell Historical Fiction Award
Bilingual Yes

Told by a Japanese American boy, this story shows how baseball made life in the internment camps more bearable for many Japanese Americans....


Author: Laurence Yep
Reading Level: Late Elementary School, Middle School
Genre: Fiction
Awards: Newbery

Inspired by the account of a Chinese immigrant who made a flying machine in 1909, Yep's historical novel portrays the rich tradtions of the...

Farewell to Manzanar: A True Story of Japanese American Experience during and after World War II Internment

Author: Jeanne Wakatsuki & James D. Houston
Reading Level: Late Elementary School, Middle School, High School
Genre: Non Fiction

Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston's memoir about her childhood experiences in Manzanar reveals not only the everyday requirements for survival in an...

New Kids in Town: Oral Histories of Immigrant Teens

Author: Janet Bode
Reading Level: Middle School, High School
Genre: Non Fiction

Accounts of teenagers' experiences immigrating to the United States.

Want to suggest a different theme topic?

Visit the Contact us page to request a theme that would help you in your classroom.