Let’s Talk About: Fire Destroys Archives

An arson-set fire in the summer of 2023 at the Seattle Betsuin Buddhist Temple near the Chinatown International District in Seattle destroyed historical archives going back more than 120 years.

This is a disaster which should affect all genealogists  and not just Buddhists. 

The article in our Spokane paper was from Greg Kim of the Seattle Times. Kim wrote: “Just outside the room where the fire began were the temple’s physical archives dating back to 1901 when the temple was founded by first-generation Japanese Americans. The current location was built during World War II in 1943. The destroyed archives contained documents from when temple members were detained in incarceration camps.”

Alex Sakamoto, a temple board member, said “By losing this, we’re losing knowledge and history. Even if people in the community don’t belong to our church, or even if they’re not Buddhist, this has really been a gathering spot in the community…because it has stayed in the same place and remained unchanged for so long.” 

Could a similar disaster happen to “your” archives…… the place where historical records pertaining to your ancestors’ lives are housed? Yes, it surely could.