1943. Photograph by Ansel Adams. “Birds on wire, evening, Manzanar Relocation Center.”
From the Library of Congress.
13 Historic Pictures
Ansel Adams is perhaps the most famous and recognizable photographer in American history. No person surpassed his technical mastery of film photography. Adam’s could take a picture of a white wall, and it would be the greatest picture of a white wall you’ve ever seen. He literally wrote the book on photography. His three tomes, The Camera, The Negative and The Print provide an encyclopedic explanation of film photography.
Adams started his photography career as a 14 year-old on a Yosemite vacation with his family in 1916. Adam’s father gave him a Kodak Brownie camera, and he made his first photographs on that vacation. The next year he returned with a better camera, and in the winter went to work for a photo finisher in San Francisco. By 1927 Ansel had produced his first portfolio of photography of scenes from the Sierra mountains. This first portfolio launched his career, and he would spend the next 60 years creating images of America’s iconic natural areas.
1941. Photograph by Ansel Adams. “Jackson Lake in Foreground, with Teton Range in Background, View Looking Southwest from North End of the Lake, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.”
From the National Archives.
1942. Photograph by Ansel Adams. “The Tetons–Snake River.”
From the National Archives
1942. Photograph by Ansel Adams. “White House Ruin — view of cliff dwelling from river valley, in ‘Canyon de Chelly’ National Monument, Arizona.”
From the National Archives
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.