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Japanese Origins of U.S. Families: A Guide to Local History and Genealogy Sources

Genealogical sources and strategies for tracing Japanese American families.


National Cherry Blossom Festival, March 20-April 11, 2021, Washington, D.C. / Guyton, 2021. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Since Japan opened to the Western world in 1853, it's people have gained more freedom to emigrate. Many people came to the United States to seek economic opportunities. Many also returned to Japan with increased wealth and education. If you have Japanese heritage in the United States, you will probably succeed in tracing your family tree with traditional Western techniques. Once you have traced your family to Japan, you may need to rely on family records kept in the place of origin, and begin tracing your family tree from your "original ancestor" to the time of emigration.

This guide includes catalogs and archives outside the Library of Congress that have local histories, censuses, and land records. Look for various genealogy periodicals and publications, lists, useful websites and online databases, as well as services subscribed to by the Library.

About Local History & Genealogy Reference Services

The Library of Congress has one of the world's premier collections of U.S. and foreign genealogical and local historical publications, numbering more than 50,000 compiled family histories and over 100,000 U.S. local histories. The Library's genealogy collection began as early as 1815 with the purchase of Thomas Jefferson's library.