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“Suffering under a Great Injustice”:   Ansel Adams’s Photographs
of Japanese-American Internment at Manzanar
Now Available on the Library of Congress’s American Memory Web site

  A rare set of photographs by renowned photographer Ansel Adams,
documenting Japanese-Americans interned at the Manzanar War Relocation
Center, is being made available on the Library of Congress’s American
Memory Web site on February 20, the one hundredth anniversary of Adams’s
birth.  The collection can be found at the following URL:

  “Suffering under a Great Injustice”: Ansel Adams’s Photographs of
Japanese-American Internment at Manzanar features 209 photographic
prints and 241 original negatives taken by Adams in 1943 of Japanese
Americans who were relocated from their homes during World War II and
interned in the Manzanar War Relocation Center in California.   For the
first time researchers are able to see online the photographs Adams made
of what Congress declared in 1988 the “grave injustice” done to persons
of Japanese ancestry during the war.   Digital scans of both Adams’s
original negatives and his photographic prints appear side by side,
allowing viewers to see his darkroom technique and in particular how he
cropped his prints.  The Web presentation also includes digital images
of the first edition of Born Free and Equal, Adams’s publication based
on his work at Manzanar.

  As America’s best-known photographer, Adams is renowned  for his
Western landscapes.  Best remembered for his views of Yosemite and the
Sierra Nevada, he made photographs that emphasize the natural beauty of
the land.  By contrast, Adams’s photographs of people have been largely

  After  Japan bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, fear of a
Japanese invasion and of subversive acts by Japanese Americans prompted
the government to move more than 110,000 people of Japanese ancestry
from California, southern Arizona, and western Washington and Oregon  to
ten relocation camps.  Those forcibly removed from their homes,
businesses, and possessions included Japanese immigrants legally
forbidden to become citizens (Issei), the American-born (Nisei), and
children of the American-born (Sansei).

   This event struck a personal chord with Adams when Harry Oye, his
parents’ longtime employee who was an Issei in poor health, was
summarily taken into custody by authorities and sent to a hospital
halfway across the country in Missouri.  Angered by this event, Adams
welcomed an opportunity in the fall of 1943 to photograph
Japanese-American internees at the  Manzanar War Relocation Center.  In
a departure from his usual landscape photography, Adams produced an
essay on the Japanese Americans interned in this beautiful but remote
and undeveloped region where the mountains served both as a metaphorical
fortress and as an inspiration for the internees.  Concentrating on the
internees and their activities, Adams photographed family life in the
barracks; people at work­internees as welders, farmers, and garment
makers; and recreational activities, including baseball and volleyball

  Adams donated the original negatives and prints from his work at
Manzanar to the Library of Congress between 1965 and 1968.   The
collection is housed in the Library’s Prints & Photographs Division,
where it has been available to researchers in the Division’s Reading

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