Learn about this chapter in American history and its relevance today.
The Presidio History Exhibition features temporary special exhibitions that explore the Presidio’s history and invite fresh perspectives on the permanent exhibitions.
The latest is EXCLUSION, which examines the role the Presidio of San Francisco – then the Army’s Western Defense Command – played in the unjust incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans, purportedly in the name of national security.
During World War II, the Presidio of San Francisco—the Army’s Western Defense Command—played a pivotal role in the unjust incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans, purportedly in the name of national security. This special exhibition was launched in 2017, 75 years after Lieutenant General John L. DeWitt issued Civilian Exclusion Orders from the Presidio, and examines the post’s little understood part in these events.
The exhibition invites visitors to investigate the choices—both personal and political—that led to this dark chapter in American history. How did leaders arrive at this decision? How did Japanese Americans respond to the violation of their civil liberties? And what, as a nation, have we learned that can help us address the present-day issues of immigration, racism, and mass incarceration?
EXCLUSION was awarded the 2018 Charles Redd Award for Exhibition Excellence by the Western Museums Association.
In developing EXCLUSION, the Presidio Trust collaborated with the Fred T. Korematsu Institute and the National Japanese American Historical Society, which operates the Military Intelligence Service Historic Learning Center in the Presidio.
This video dives deeper into the context surrounding the exclusion orders issued from the Presidio that led to the incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans on the West Coast, and the experiences of those who were unjustly imprisoned.