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Ansel Adam’s Manzanar. A photoessay documenting a Japanese-American Internment camp during WWII. Legal note: Mr. Adams placed no restrictions on the use of his Manzanar photos.

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ansel adam s manzanar

Ansel Adam’s Manzanar

A photoessay documenting a Japanese-American Internment camp during WWII

Legal note: Mr. Adams placed no restrictions on the use of his Manzanar photos.


Tom Kobayashi, who was arrested for curfew violation in Washington State and took his case to the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court upheld his conviction. In 1998, however, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for standing up for his rights and the rights of all Japanese Americans.


Private Margaret Fukuoka, Women’s Army Corps

In a strange twist of fate, Nisei were held in camps, but allowed to serve their country in the armed forces.


At some camps, reading material was hard to find. Also, children often disregarded

their parents, whose authority was worn down by having government people telling

everyone what to do all the time.


The quality of schooling depended on the camp. At some, students had nearly

the same kind they would have had at home. But for others, school was a haphazard

affair, ill attended by both students and teachers with few materials available to both.


Once settled in, the government allowed the camps to be administered by the

Internees. Many worked to help provide food and services to their camps. Still,

Soldiers were always present and, in the first year, the internees were not allowed

To leave for any reason.


Whenever possible, internees could practice the same trades they would have

if they had been free. This practice helped camp life run more smoothly and

provided much needed services to all the internees. The internees were not paid

nearly what they would have been outside the camp.


Although Buddhist priests were taken prisoner before the mass internment, people

in the camps were allowed to worship as they pleased. Some of those taken

prisoner were allowed to join their families at internment camps later on.


As much as possible, internees were encouraged to make life “normal”. Here,

Internees are singing in a choir.


If you woke up one winter morning in Manzanar, here is what you might see. You

would probably be living with your family in one of the buildings shown here.


Girls play volleyball at Manzanar. Notice their curly hair. Most had to

have permanents in order to look more “American” and less “Japanese.”

Besides, very long, straight hair was NOT the style in the 1940’s.


The internees ran their own stores in the camps. Here, a mother is

buying toys for her children.


A mother and her two daughters pose outside of a camp barrack. Usually,

the barracks were divided so that each family had its own room or set of rooms.

The family areas were crowded and families often had to separate to make space.

Older boys went to the bachelor barracks, for example.