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Manzanar: 1943

Manzanar: 1943

1943. Japanese-American internees at the Manzanar War Relocation Center in California. "Players involved in a football game on a dusty field, buildings and mountains in the distance. Note: Be sure and straighten horizon when printing." Medium-format nitrate negative by Ansel Adams. View full size.


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For more on Dorothea Lange and Ansel Adam's photography at the Manzanar internment camp:

- Impounded : Dorothea Lange and the censored images of Japanese American internment / Dorothea Lange ; edited by Linda Gordon and Gary Y. Okihiro, c2006, ISBN: 039306073X

- Born free and equal : the story of loyal Japanese Americans, Manzanar Relocation Center, Inyo County, California : photographs from the Library of Congress collection / introduction by Archie Miyatake ; contributions by Sue Kunitomi Embrey and William H. Michael ; edited by Wynne Benti ; with support from the Manzanar Committee friends of the Eastern California Museum, c2002, ISBN: 1893343057.

Out of print but might be available at your university library:

- Born free and equal, photographs of the loyal Japanese-Americans at Manzanar Relocation Center, Inyo County, California, by Ansel Adams, c1944.


Masumi Hayashi

Masumi Hayashi's photographs showing what remains at these camp locations:

Adams and Lange

Both Ansel Adams and Dorothea Lange made photos at the Manzanar War Relocation Center, though Lange was contracted from the beginning of the relocation. Two of the finest photographers in America thus documented this sad history in our nation's life, though there is some doubt that they understood that when their assignments began. Of course Manzanar was just one of the camps that were spread all over the western United States.

Two camps, Rohwer and Jerome, were located next to the Mississippi River in Arkansas, though they are little known. And there is the irony: it sometimes depends on whose doing the photography (and how much) that determines popular memory.

Today the almost deserted Rohwer site contains a small graveyard of Japanese Americans as well as a concrete sculpture in the form of a Sherman tank with the names of the dead Japanese American volunteers who served with the Nisei Regiment ("Go For Broke"). The 442nd Regimental Combat Team was the most highly decorated fighting force in US history, the recipient of 21 Medals of Honor.

They volunteered to fight for the US even though their families were held in a relocation camp - under armed guard.


I was not aware that Ansel Adams took pictures at Manzanar. I've driven by there many times. The barracks are gone, but the entrance gate and gymnasium are still there.


Of possible interest to those wanting to see more photographs taken of Japanese-American Internment camps, here is a link:


Ansel Adams

Long ago a photographer friend took an Adams workshop class at Yosemite. He said he was so in awe of Adams he could hardly remember what was said. He did take the opportunity to ask Adams "Are all your photographs so perfect??" My friend said Adams laughed and replied "No, they only print the best ones now."

The Blur

Looks like the great Ansel Adams used a shutter speed slow enough to blur the runners' legs. Or maybe he just wanted to show action. I like his "note to self".

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