Silver prints, the images measuring 4 1/2x6 inches (11.4x15.2 cm.), and slightly smaller, and the reverse, the sheets 5x7 inches (12.7x17.8 cm.), with inventory numbers, in ink, on recto, and with Lange's printed credit, the War Relocation Authority credit, the caption ("Data"), location, and date, and all but one with a typewritten caption label, on verso. 1942
Notes: Grandfather and grandchildren awaiting evacuation bus. The grandfather conducted a dyeing and cleaning business. The family unit is preserved during evaucation and at War Relocation Authority centers where evacuees of Japanese anestry will be housed for the duration. * Tens cars of evacuees of Japanese ancestry are now aboard and the doors are closed. Their Caucasian friends and the staff of the NCCA stations are watching the departure from the platform. Evacuees are leaving their homes and ranges, in a rich agricultural district, bound for Merced Assembly Center about 125 miles away. * This little evacuee of Japanese ancestry, is taking one last look before the bus departs for Tanforen Assembly Center * A crowd of onlookers in the first day of evaluation from the Japanese quarter in San Francisco, who, themselves, will be evacuated within three days. * Dust Storm at this War Relocation Authority center where evacuees of Japanese ancestry are spending the duration.
An extremely rare suite of censored photographs that is associated with the detention of Japanese Americans. President Roosevelt''s Executive Order 9066 was issued after Japan''s attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, which led the United States to declare war on Japan and enter World War II. The public outcry against the attack was ultimately directed at Japanese Americans, affecting the lives of more than a hundred thousand men, women, and children of Japanese ancestry living on the west coast.
In 1942, Dorothea Lange was commissioned by the War Relocation Authority, a federal agency, to record the "evacuation" and "relocation" of Japanese American citizens. Lange, a prominent photographer, had married the progressive economist Paul Taylor in 1935, and the couple collaborated on numerous social documentary projects. Lange''s belief in the unjust nature of the government''s program did not go unnoticed by the agency. Her photographs were impounded for the duration of the war and, subsequently, they were deposited in the National Archives.
Each photograph indicates her credit, the location, caption, date, inventory number, and name of the agency; four include a caption label affixed to the prints. Lange''s intent was to depict the injustice of the internment program: a photograph depicts a sad child gazing out a train window while another shows a tearful woman, a crumpled handkerchief hiding her face; a third depicts an armed soldier, who''s apparently guarding a group of onlookers and a fourth was an overall view of the camp during a dust storm. The captions and data provide additional details that shed light on the "emotional effects of such uprooting."
Manzanar, where 110,000 American were unjustly detained--more than 60 percent of whom were American citizens--was the most utilized site. The following year, in 1943, Ansel Adams visited the site and recorded portraits of proud evacuees trying to build a life. Although Adams was not a social documentary photographer the title of his subsequent book, Born Free and Equal: The Story of Loyal Japanese Americans, reflects his outrage.
One refugee wrote, "We couldn''t do anything about the order from the U.S. government. I just lived from day to day without any purpose. I felt empty . . . I just felt vacant. " According to historian and author Linda Gordon, "A photographic record could protect against false allegations of mistreatment and violations of international law, but it carried the risk, of course, of documenting actual mistreatment." After the photographs were confiscated by the authorities, Lange had no recourse nor access to the negatives. Gordon opined she could only guess at how bitter Lange must have been to witness the disappearance of her work.