Mining the LOC: Ansel Adams’ Manzanar War Relocation Center Photographs

Baton practice, Florence Kuwata, Manzanar Relocation Center / photograph by Ansel Adams.

Baton practice, Florence Kuwata by Ansel Adams
Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, LC-A35-5-M-34.

In 1943, Ansel Adams (1902-1984) photographed the Manzanar War Relocation Center at the suggestion of its director, his good friend and fellow Sierra Club member, Ralph Merritt. Adams wanted to contribute to the war effort while at the same time show the loyalty of the Japanese-Americans interned at Manzanar, located in Inyo County, California, approximately 200 miles northeast of Los Angeles. In 1944, some of these images were published in Adams’ book Born Free and Equal. The book had a limited circulation, perhaps due to the political climate of war-time America. When offering the collection to the Library, Adams said in a letter, “All in all, I think this Manzanar Collection is an important historical document, and I trust it can be put to good use…The purpose of my work was to show how these people, suffering under a great injustice, and loss of property, businesses and professions, had overcome the sense of defeat and despair by building for themselves a vital community in an arid (but magnificent) environment.”

source: Library of Congress

You can view selected images from the collection or view them all. If you’re the travelling type, here’s the site for the Manzanar National Park.

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