Discover and research your Japanese American family history with our monthly workshop series and special workshops!

Your Family, Your History with Genealogist Linda Harms Okazaki and the Center: Monthly Workshop Series on Researching, Preserving and Sharing Your Japanese American Roots

Generously Supported by The Henri and Tomoye Takahashi Charitable Foundation

First Thursday of Every Month Beginning October 3, 2024 (October Workshop is FREE)
6:00pm – 7:30pm PST
Virtual Class Format over Zoom
Individual Workshop Registration: $25 Center Members / $35 General Public
Discounted Full Course Enrollment (12 Monthly Workshops + Field Trips + Shutterfly Photobook): $250 Center Members / $300 General Public


Have you wanted to start researching your family history but didn’t know how to begin? Did you start your family history journey, only to get stuck, or hit a brick wall? Do you want to write your family story, but need some assistance?

Please join genealogist Linda Harms Okazaki as she takes you on a genealogy journey. She will guide you through the research and help you to write your story. Participants may register for individual workshops or for the full course at a discounted price. Each session includes a homework assignment and culminates with sharing your final written project. Video recordings of each workshop will be available to enrolled participants following each session for a limited time. Full course registration includes the option to create and print a hardcover photobook of your family history on Shutterfly.

The series begins October 3, 2024 at 6:00pm PST virtually on Zoom with a FREE introductory workshop. After the free introductory session, participants may enroll for subsequent sessions, to be held monthly on the first Thursday of each month through October 2025.

This series is suitable for teens through seniors. Prior family history research is not required, but seasoned researchers are welcome to attend. Homework will be assigned after each session to provide guidance on researching and writing your family history between workshop sessions. Students are encouraged to participate in class. Handouts will accompany each presentation. Each session will include a writing component.

One-to-one private consultations can be arranged with the instructor at $75/hr via Zoom.


Monthly Course Outline

Thursday, October 3, 2024
1. Introduction to Family History


This initial session provides an overview of the full course and covers getting started in genealogy, organization, pedigree charts and family group sheets, interviewing relatives, navigating websites, planning a writing project, and will end with an opportunity to “ask the genealogist.”

Thursday, November 7, 2024
2. Preserve Your Artifacts


Every artifact has a story waiting to be told. What should you look for in your house? Your grandmother’s house? Learn tips for searching through the house repository, organizing your artifacts and ephemera, determining what to keep, how to keep it, what to donate, what to store. Should some of your items be donated to a museum or historical society? If so, how do you choose where these items will live for perpetuity?

Thursday, December 5, 2024
3. How to Interview Family Members


Who should you interview? What questions should you ask? How should you record the sessions? What if you are the oldest family member?

Thursday, February 6, 2025
Finding Records in the U.S. – Part I


Learn how to find the important records which will help tell your family story. Basic records covered include census, land, naturalization, vital, newspapers, city directories, manuscript collections, immigration records, and more. Note: Incarceration records will be covered in a separate session.

Thursday, March 6, 2025
Finding Records in the U.S. – Part II


Continuation of uncovering the records in the U.S. necessary to tell your family story. Will cover document analysis and planning a research trip.

Thursday, April 3, 2025
6. Camp Records


Do you have friends or family members who were incarcerated during WWII? Learn what records exist, where to find them, how to order them, and how to decipher the information.

Thursday, May 1, 2025
7. Records in Japan


This overview will include koseki retrieval, land records, village histories, and translation tips. Assistance for obtaining these records for a fee will be offered. For those who want to do this on their own, some free resources will be shared, including information about genealogist Marty Wolfe’s classes.

Thursday, June 5, 2025
8. Shutterfly Book – Part I

Full course registration includes the option to create and print a photobook of your family history on Shutterfly. If you have been writing throughout the series, much of your narrative has written itself. In this session, we will look at the story, formatting, layout documentation, inserting kanji into the narrative, proofreading, and printing.

Thursday, July 3, 2025
9. Shutterfly Book – Part II

Continuation of instruction on writing your family history and creating your photobook projects on Shutterfly.

Thursday, August 7, 2025
10. Shutterfly Book – Part III

Final workshop to consult the instructor on creating your family history photobook.

Thursday, September 4, 2025
11. Introduction to DNA*

Have you wondered if and how DNA might be able to help you with your genealogy? This introductory class will help you to determine whetehr or not you should take a DNA test, which one you might want to take, and how to understand your results.

*This workshop will not be recorded in order to protect participant privacy

Thursday, October 2, 2025
12. Share your stories!

Wrap up the workshop series by sharing your findings and photobooks with other course participants! Local participants will gather in person at the Center for participant presentations and closing reception.

In-Person Field Trips (Exact Dates TBA)

The Your Family, Your History workshop series has expanded to include three in-person field trips for local participants in the Bay Area to conduct family history research. Field trip registration is included for all full course registrants. Participants not enrolled in the full course may also register for individual field trips separately. Planned field trips include:

  • Two field trips to Oakland FamilySearch Center
  • Field trip to California Genealogical Society

Join our Genealogy and Family History Facebook Group

  • Join the Center’s genealogy/family history online community on our Facebook group to share information on your family history and community history findings, research tips and to stay up to date on future genealogy programs!


About Linda Harms Okazaki:

Linda Harms Okazaki is a fourth-generation Californian, active in the genealogy and Japanese American communities in California and beyond. She is passionate about teaching Nikkei to research, document, and share their personal family histories. Her other areas of research include upstate New York, England, Australia, and the use of DNA in genealogy. Linda has been researching her husband’s ancestry since 2012, documenting his family in the internment camps and in Japan. A charter member of the Nikkei Genealogical Society, and a consultant for’s Progenealogists, she is also a featured columnist for the Nichi Bei Weekly. Her column, Finding Your Nikkei Roots, is published bimonthly. Her guide to Finding Your Japanese Roots was updated in 2020 and is available in hard copy. Ms. Okazaki is the author of numerous articles, including the recent National Genealogical Society magazine article “Paper Sons and Picture Brides,” which was co-authored by Grant Din. She is a member of as the Association of Professional Genealogists, the Genealogical Speaker’s Guild, and the Daughters of the American Revolution. Linda currently serves as the past president of the California Genealogical Society, is a past board member of the Nichi Bei Foundation, and serves as a family history consultant for Densho.

Ms. Okazaki holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Development and a Master of Arts degree in Education. She can be reached at