Des vies interrompues
Three months after Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Roosevelt ordered the relocation of Japanese-Americans into armed camps in the West. Soon after, the War Relocation Authority hired Lange to photograph Japanese neighborhoods, processing centers, and camp facilities.
Lange’s earlier work documenting displaced farm families and migrant workers during the Great Depression did not prepare her for the disturbing racial and civil rights issues raised by the Japanese internment. Lange quickly found herself at odds with her employer and her subjects’ persecutors, the United States government.
To capture the spirit of the camps, Lange created images that frequently juxtapose signs of human courage and dignity with physical evidence of the indignities of incarceration. Not surprisingly, many of Lange’s photographs were censored by the federal government, itself conflicted by the existence of the camps.
The true impact of Lange’s work was not felt until 1972, when the Whitney Museum incorporated twenty-seven of her photographs into Executive Order 9066, an exhibit about the Japanese internment. New York Times critic A.D. Coleman called Lange’s photographs « documents of such a high order that they convey the feelings of the victims as well as the facts of the crime. »
Hayward, California. Two children of the Mochida family who, with their parents, are awaiting evacuation bus. The youngster on the right holds a sandwich given her by one of a group of women who were present from a local church. The family unit is kept intact during evacuation and at War Relocation Authority centers where evacuees of Japanese ancestry will be housed for the duration.
First-graders, some of Japanese ancestry, at the Weill public school, San Francisco, Calif., pledging allegience to the United States flag. The evacuees of Japanese ancestry will be housed in War relocation authority centers for the duration of the war
Children of the Weill public school, April 1942
Prints and Photographs Division (92)
San Francisco, Calif., June 1942 – An early comer, part of the first contingent of 664 residents of Japanese ancestry to be evacuated from San Francisco, later to be housed in war relocation authority centers for the duration
Prints and Photographs Division (91.1)
A young evacuee of Japanese ancestry waits with the family baggage
Manzanar Relocation Center, Manzanar, California, July 2, 1942. Grandfather and grandson of Japanese ancestry
Young evacuees of Japanese ancestry awaiting their turn for baggage inspection upon arrival at assembly center, during WWII
San Francisco, Calif., Apr. 1942–Residents, of Japanese ancestry, appearing at the Civil control station for registration in response to the Army’s exclusion order No. 20–The evacuees will be housed in War relocation authority centers for the duration
San Francisco, Calif., April 1942 – a family unit kept intact in the various phases of evacuation, at the Wartime Civil Control Administration station
San Francisco, April 1942 – relocation story
Residents of Japanese ancestry awaiting the bus, April 1942
Prints and Photographs Division (90.1)
Prints and Photographs Division (89.1)
People of Japanese ancestry arriving at Tanforan Assembly Center, 1942
A Japanese American unfurled this banner the day after the Pearl Harbor attack; Lange photographed it in March 1942, just prior to the man’s internment.