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Dublin: 14 °C Saturday 2 August, 2014

In pictures: America’s WWII internment camp for Japanese-Americans

Seventy years ago this month, the US began sending thousands of its citizens into an internment camp in Manzanar, California.Here are Ansel Adams’ photos of that camp.

One of Ansel Adams' photographs from the Manzanar camp.
One of Ansel Adams' photographs from the Manzanar camp.
Image: (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)

SEVENTY YEARS AGO this month, the US began its internment of thousands of Japanese-Americans following the Pearl Harbour attack in December 1941 and America’s subsequent entry into WWII.

More than 110,000 men, women and children were forced to leave their homes and relocate to the internment camps; Manzanar is the best-known and largest of the ten camps set up by the US authorities and it covered 6,200 acres. Two-thirds of the people held at Manzanar were aged under 18.

Around 11,000 people were held there before its closure at the end of the war. Manzanar has since been taken over by the National Park Service and is open to the public as the Manzanar National Historic Site.

In 1943, noted landscape photographer Ansel Adams travelled to the Manzanar facility to photograph prisoners at the camp.

Adams later donated a collection of these images to the Library of Congress. In the letter accompanying his work, Adams said that the “purpose of my work was to show how these people, suffering under a great injustice and the loss of property, businesses and professions, had over come the sense of defeat and dispair [sic] by building for themselves a vital community in an arid (but magnificent) environment.”

In pictures: America’s WWII internment camp for Japanese-Americans
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  • Manzanar

    A bird's-eye view of grounds from guard tower looking west, showing buildings, roads, and Sierra Nevada mountains in the background. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)
  • Looking South

    Looking south from Manzanar to the Alabama Hills, showing the arid area surrounding the centre. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)
  • Volleyball

    Japanese-American women playing volleyball at the internment camp. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)
  • Calesthenics

    A group of girls taking part in their calisthenics classes. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)
  • Inside

    Tōyō Miyatake standing by his daughter's desk in her bedroom as her mother speaks to the young girl. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)
  • Town Hall

    Roy Takeno addressing a 'Town Hall' meeting with an American flag on the wall behind him. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)
  • Sewing

    Foreman of the sewing machine section Sumiko Shigematsu watching work in action. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)
  • News

    (L to R) Roy Takeno, Yuichi Hirata and Nabou Samamura stand in front of the Office of Reports Free Press reading the Los Angeles Times. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)
  • Nurses

    Nurse Aiko Hamaguchi with patient Tom Kano, in wheelchair, as George Nakano, Keiko Kamahara and Fuimi Tashima speak on the bench below. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)
  • Dwelling

    Mrs Naguchi and two young girls standing at the entrance of a dwelling. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)
  • Fashion Design

    Mrs Ryie Yoshizawa and her class of women students crowd around a table, looking at fashion magazines including 'Vogue' and patterns. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)
  • Baton Practice

    Florence Kuwata, arms outstretched, at baton practice. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)
  • Manzanar

    The entrance and gatehouse to the Manzanar camp. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)
  • Line Crew

    Electric line repair crew at work in the camp. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)
  • Fields

    Fields at the Manzanar Relocation Center. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)
  • Farm Work

    Farm workers are photographed harvesting crops. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)
  • Farm Work

    Benji Iguchi driving a tractor through a dusty field on the arid grounds of the Manzanar camp. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)
  • Cemetery

    A marble monument in the Manzanar Relocation Center cemetery bearing the inscription: 'Monument for the Pacification of Spirits'. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)

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