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Help save Bainbridge history: Library seeks funds to preserve WWII news stories

The Kitsap Regional Library Foundation is seeking donations as part of a fundraising campaign to digitally preserve an important part of Bainbridge Island history.

The library, in partnership with the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum, hopes to make available online newspaper stories from the World War II era, when many island Japanese residents were forced into internment camps for the duration of the conflict.

“Currently, local reporting from that era only exists on microfilm,” said Rebecca Judd, the library system’s manager for the Bainbridge branch. “With a limited scope, 1941 to 1946, we have an opportunity to do a small-scale digitization project that has local, regional and national significance.”

Access to the microfilm for the Bainbridge Island Review has been granted by Sound Publishing specifically for this project.

“Perhaps no other period in history had a greater impact on the Bainbridge Island Japanese American community than World War II,” said Frank Kitamoto, president of the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community. “The unique way the Bainbridge Review and the greater community responded helped define the destiny and cherished character of Bainbridge Island. Making the record of this important historical period more accessible will leave a lasting legacy for generations to come.”

Under the ownership of Walt and Milly Woodward, the Review documented local history when more than 200 islanders were the first of 100,000 Japanese Americans sent to internment camps. Some of the families had been on the island since the 1880s.

In the newspaper, the Woodwards voiced open opposition to the internment, which they called the “exclusion,” and published news from the island internees while they were actually in the camps.

“KRL is happy to donate staff time to organize this project,” said KRL director Jill Jean. “This supports our mission to be stewards of access to stories, information and knowledge. In this case, we want to be part of making an important part of our own history accessible to students and historians around the world.”

Funds raised will go to purchase a digital scanner and create an easily searchable, publicly available web interface. Any and all excess funds acquired will go to benefit the Bainbridge branch of the library.

Donations can be made online at www.krl.org/foundation, at the Bainbridge Public Library, or mailed directly to the foundation at 1301 Sylvan Way, Bremerton, WA 98310.

“Wherever you make your donation, note that it is for the ‘BI History Project’ so it is applied appropriately,” said Jaime Forsyth, executive director of the KRL Foundation.

“We have been overwhelmed with the showing of support for this project. It’s clearly close to the heart of this community,” Forsyth said.

The KRL Foundation is a charitable organization that helps keep the library a thriving organization by raising funds for needs over and above the existing resources.

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