16 Ansel Adams’ Photographs of the Shameful Internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII.
On February 19th, 1942, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. This order led to forced internment of 110,000 Japenese-Americans and Americans of Japanese descent following the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Empire of Japan on December 7th, 1942. 80,000 of those interned were born in the United States and held United States citizenship. A report by the Carter Administration in 1983 acknowledged that the internment was “race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership.” Fuelled by outrage at the Pearl Harbor attacks and media neurosis, public sentiment favored the internment. Henry McLemore, a columnist during the time wrote:
“I am for immediate removal of every Japanese on the West Coast to a point deep in the interior. I don’t mean a nice part of the interior either. Herd ’em up, pack ’em off and give ’em the inside room in the badlands. Let ’em be pinched, hurt, hungry and dead up against it …”
In 1943, the American photographer Ansel Adams traveled to the Manzanar Relocation Center. According the National Park Service, the Manzanar camp had a “peak [population] of 10,046 in September 1942. When gifting the photographs to the Library of Congress Adams wrote:
“All in all, I think this Manzanar Collection is an important historical document, and I trust it can be put to good use…The purpose of my work was to show how these people, suffering under a great injustice, and loss of property, businesses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.”
Vintage Photographs on Photistoric.