Ansel Adams: Photographs Of The Manzanar Relocation Center

Laurie says:

Ansel Adams is known as a magnificent 20th century photographer of black and white of landscapes of the West. But he said that “from a social point of view,” his Manzanar photos were the “most important thing I’ve done or can do, as far as I know.”

adams camp00200r

Landscape with watch tower


He took these photographs in 1943, documenting … one of the most shameful events in U.S. history. In commemoration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, the Library of Congress (LOC) blog directs readers to an online set of rare photographs that Adams donated to the Library between 1965 and 1968, placing no copyright restrictions on their use.


Editor Roy Takeno reading a copy of the Manzanar Free Press


As the LOC notes: Several months after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, more than 110,000 people of Japanese ancestry were forced from their homes on the West Coast and sent to “relocation centers” by the United States government, which had declared war on Japan.

Documents accompanying the Adams online photo collection say the evacuation “struck a personal chord” with Adams after an ailing family employee was taken from his home to a faraway hospital. When Ralph Merritt, director of the Manzanar War Relocation Center, invited Adams to document camp life, he welcomed the opportunity. He shot more than 200 photos, mostly portraits, but also scenes from daily camp life with the majestic Sierra Nevada mountains often visible in the background.

quote is from i09



Bridge game, Nurse Hamaguchi and friends, Manzanar Relocation Center, California

The photographs have all the exquisite tonalities and composition of Adam”s work. But what strikes me in the political context is that everyone is named and is an individual and is photographed as such. It means that we feel like we are seeing the lives and incarceration of real people.


Benji Iguchi driving tractor, Manzanar Relocation Center, California

Here’s the link to the Library of Congress site. It’s well worth taking the time to explore these photographs.