“Suffering Under a Great Injustice” Ansel Adams’s Photographs of Japanese-American Internment at Manzanar
In 1943, Ansel Adams (1902-1984), America’s best-known photographer, documented the Manzanar War Relocation Center in California and the Japanese Americans interned there during World War II.
Adams’s Manzanar work is a departure from his signature style of landscape photography. Although a majority of the photographs are portraits, the images also include views of daily life, agricultural scenes, and sports and leisure activities. When he offered the collection to the Library in 1965, Adams wrote, “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 dispair [sic] by building for themselves a vital community in an arid (but magnificent) environment. . . . All in all, I think this Manzanar Collection is an important historical document, and I trust it can be put to good use.”