Winter storm, Manzanar Relocation Center, California. (Ansel Adams)

People leaving Buddhist church, winter, Manzanar Relocation Center, California. (Ansel Adams)

In 1943, Ansel Adams set out to document life inside the Japanese-American internment camp at the Manzanar War Relocation Center in California. It was a departure for Adams, who at the time was known as a landscape photographer and not for social-documentary work. When Adams offered this collection of images to the Library of Congress, he said, “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vital community in an arid (but magnificent) environment….All in all, I think this Manzanar Collection is an important historical document, and I trust it can be put to good use.”

On Feb. 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued his five-paragraph Executive Order No. 9066, “Authorizing the Secretary of War to Prescribe Military Areas” from which “any or all persons may be excluded.”

The order further stated: “I hereby further authorize and direct all Executive Departments, independent establishments and other Federal Agencies, to assist the Secretary of War or the said Military Commanders in carrying out this Executive Order, including the furnishing of medical aid, hospitalization, food, clothing, transportation, use of land, shelter, and other supplies, equipment, utilities, facilities, and services.” The Supreme Court upheld the order and the subsequent deportation and incarceration of Americans of Japanese ancestry.

Within a month, a 50- to 60-mile-wide swath of the Western coast was designated as Military Area No. 2. It extended from Washington down through California and into parts of Arizona. More than 110,000 residents of this area were given only days to sell off their farms, businesses, homes and other possessions before being shipped off to internment camp barracks around the United States. Although the law extended to other ethnic groups as well, it was primarily applied to Japanese Americans.

Co-op enterprise office. (Ansel Adams)

Rose Fukuda and Roy Takeda (Ansel Adams)

Volleyball, Manzanar Relocation Center. (Ansel Adams)

Potato fields. (Ansel Adams)

Roy Takeno at town hall meeting. (Ansel Adams)

Editor of the paper, Roy Takeno, and others in front of the newspaper’s office, Manzanar Relocation Center. (Ansel Adams)

Toyo Miyatake family, Manzanar Relocation Center. (Ansel Adams)

Pictures and mementos on phonograph at the Yonemitsu home. (Ansel Adams)

Young men in a co-op goods store, Satoru Nasunoko and Bill Idama. (Ansel Adams)

Line crew at work in Manzanar. (Ansel Adams)

A bus leaving Manzanar for relocation. (Ansel Adams)

More In sight”

Stunning photos from Tibetan Buddhists’ Bliss Dharma Assembly

Rarely seen polaroids of Andy Warhol’s Factory and the New York art scene of the 1960’s and 70’s

Stunning photos of ‘Star Wars’ scenes created with Legos