Ansel Adams is renowned for his stunning, black-and-white photographs of landscapes in the American West. But, in 1943, he documented one of the most shameful events in U.S. history.
In commemoration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, the Library of Congress (LOC) blog directs readers to an online set of rare photographs that Adams donated to the Library between 1965 and 1968, placing no copyright restrictions on their use.
As the LOC notes:
Several months after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, more than 110,000 people of Japanese ancestry were forced from their homes on the West Coast and sent to "relocation centers" by the United States government, which had declared war on Japan.
Documents accompanying the Adams online photo collection say the evacuation "struck a personal chord" with Adams after an ailing family employee was taken from his home to a faraway hospital. When Ralph Merritt, director of the Manzanar War Relocation Center, invited Adams to document camp life, he welcomed the opportunity. He shot more than 200 photos, mostly portraits, but also scenes from daily camp life with the majestic Sierra Nevada mountains often visible in the background.
Adams told an interviewer in 1974 that "from a social point of view," his Manzanar photos were the "most important thing I've done or can do, as far as I know."
View more of the collection online at the Library of Congress.