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Collection Ansel Adams's Photographs of Japanese-American Internment at Manzanar

Technical Information

Digitizing the Collection

In the summer of 2000, JJT, Inc., of Austin, Texas, scanned Ansel Adams's Manzanar black-and white photographs. They used an overhead MARC II digital camera to scan both the 209 gelatin silver prints (in various sizes measuring up to 10x14 inches) and the 242 acetate and nitrate negatives (measuring either 4x5 or 5x7 inches). The images were captured in grayscale at a spatial resolution of approximately 10,000 pixels on the long side and a tonal resolution of 16 bits per pixel to help the Library begin to explore issues related to preservation-quality digital surrogates for photographs. The Library is considering the extent to which these files can be used to generate high-quality reproductions in a variety of media. With today's resources, these very high resolution images require significantly increased costs, particularly in time spent capturing, inspecting, and loading the files. For most collections in the Prints and Photographs Division, online digital images, even at lower resolutions, play an important preservation role as surrogates that reduce handling of the original pictures.

Digital images of each print and its corresponding negative display side by side in each bibliographic record to facilitate comparison. The print is on the left, and the negative is on the right. When Adams provided only a print (two cases), or only a negative (thirty-six cases), a single image displays.

Although Adams mounted the prints on large boards, the digital images show only the photograph and Adams's signature when present. A third digital image showing the whole mount documents the eight mounts that have a printed label, which may indicate that the photograph was included in an exhibition.

Left: Print Center: Negative Right: Print with labeled mount

LOT 10479-1, no. 12  LC-A35-4-M-X

Yuchi Harata, Manzanar Relocation Center. Photograph by Ansel Adams, 1943.

Specifications for the collection:

Uncompressed Archival TIFF Images

Spatial resolution:
5,000 pixels on the long side with the short side scaled in proportion for file names ending in u.tif (17-20 megabytes)
Tonal (pixel depth) resolution:
8 bits per pixel (grayscale)
Image enhancement:
File format:
Tagged Image File Format (TIFF) ver. 6.0

Highest Resolution TIFF Images

Spatial resolution:
10,000 pixels on the long side with the short side scaled in proportion (approximately 130 megabytes)
Tonal (pixel depth) resolution:
16 bits per pixel (grayscale). Note: Some older versions of image viewers and editing software cannot handle 16 bit images.
Image enhancement:
File format:
Tagged Image File Format (TIFF) ver. 6.0

Compressed Service JPEG Images

Spatial resolution:
640 pixels on the long side with the short side scaled in proportion for file names ending r.jpg (40-50 kilobytes); 1024 pixels on the long side with the short side scaled in proportion for file names ending v.jpg (90-100 kilobytes)
Tonal (pixel depth) resolution:
8 bits per pixel (grayscale)
Image enhancement:
Mild sharpening
File format:
Compressed to yield an average compression ratio of 10:1

Thumbnail Images

Spatial resolution:
150 pixels on the long side with the short side scaled in proportion for file names ending in t.tif and t.gif (approximately 20 kilobytes)
Tonal (pixel depth) resolution:
8 bits per pixel (grayscale)
Image enhancement:
Mild sharpening
File format:
Archived copy: TIFF-Tagged Image File Format
Online copy: GIF-Graphics Interchange Format
Archived copy: Uncompressed
Online copy: Compression native to the GIF format

Describing the Collection

Most of the Prints and Photographs Division's cataloging is considered "minimal level" because limited resources often constrain the information to what accompanies the picture when it is acquired rather than what could be learned by fully researching the image. The following comments explain the general cataloging guidelines followed by the Prints and Photographs Division as well as some specific guidelines followed in cataloging Ansel Adams's Manzanar photographs. They also highlight the catalog record information that is most useful for citing pictorial materials in research notes or publications. Because the original information accompanying a picture can be inaccurate, the Division is always glad to hear from researchers who have additional or better information. Contact Prints & PhotographsDivision Ask a Librarian.

Since some of the information here reflects general Division guidelines, the records for the Adams Manzanar collection may not use all the fields or have all the indexing features described below. For general information about cataloging pictorial materials, see the Visual Materials: Processing & Cataloging Bibliography (//

Cataloging Ansel Adams's Manzanar Photographs (Summary)

The titles of the photographs come from annotations Ansel Adams himself provided on the prints and the negative sleeves. Corrections of misspelled words and names are designated with [sic] or [i.e.].

When multiple versions of the same image are available (usually as a negative and a print), both versions are described in a single catalog record to facilitate comparison of what was captured through the camera and what Adams created in the darkroom.

Many kinds of reproduction numbers are included because different versions of the image may have been copied in different formats--digital, photographic, black-and-white, color.


  • LC-DIG-ppprs-00308 (b&w digital file from original print) [scan of a print]
  • LC-DIG-ppprs-00161 (b&w digital file from original neg.) [scan of a negative]
  • LC-USZC4-5618 (color film copy transparency) [color photo of a print]
  • LC-A35-T01-6-M-9 (b&w film dup. neg.) [duplicate of a negative]

Both subject headings and subject summary notes have been provided. Two subject headings appear on every record to help people locate the photographs when searching across multiple collections in American Memory or other online catalogs.

  • Manzanar War Relocation Center--[Topical Subdivision]--1940-1950.
  • World War, 1939-1945--Japanese Americans--California--Manzanar.

Fields Displayed in Catalog Records (in alphabetical order)

Call Number

The call number is a string of letters and numbers used to locate the original material filed at the Library of Congress. Although Prints and Photographs has a unique system of call number locations (and the patterns vary from filing series to filing series), the call number is still useful as a quick reference citation. The call number is composed of several elements, typically a coded filing series designation, an alpha-numeric subdivision category, and an item identification number.

The prints by Adams are in one group designated LOT 10479. Library staff subdivided the LOT into eight subject categories in the 1960s, but similar pictures often appear in different categories.

  1. Portraits (family and individual)
  2. Landscapes (campsite scenes and miscellaneous)
  3. Activities (various occupations such as artist and butcher)
  4. Activities (farming, recreation and sports, meetings and concerts, miscellaneous socials)
  5. Activities (education and schools, religion and churches, health and hospitals)
  6. Portraits (individual and family)
  7. Miscellaneous
  8. Portraits (individual)

Within each numbered subject category, the Library assigned sequential item numbers.


  • LOT 10479-1, no. 18

The Library of Congress assigned the negatives to two filing series, coded for the surname Adams. "LC-A35" designates 4x5-inch negatives and "LC-A351" designates 5x7-inch negatives. The rest of the call number follows Adams's own identification scheme. The first sub-numbers are either 3, 4, 5, or 6 and might indicate images shot during a single trip. The "M" seems to be a code for the Manzanar project. The last number indicates the shot, followed by A, B, C, etc., to designate variant views. The shot numbers are sequential, but there are gaps. Either Adams skipped some numbers or did not donate those negatives to the Library. In the few cases in which Adams did not provide an item number, an "x" indicates those numbers assigned by the Library.


  • LC-A35-4-M-40-Cx
  • LC-A351-3-M-23-B

When the Library has both an original print and an original negative, only the call number for the print appears in the catalog record, and the call number for the negative is in a note. When there is only a negative, the negative number is the call number.

Card #

The control number, or card number, for each catalog record is a unique identification number. It can be used to do a quick number search when a user wants to see a specific record without repeating a long keyword or subject search. However, only some online catalogs provide an index by this number.


The title of the collection associates each item with its source and with other pictures in the same collection. This title is useful to include in bibliographic citations as a source or provenance statement.


  • Adams, Ansel, 1902- . Manzanar War Relocation Center photographs

Some items are in more than one collection because they are associated with both a format-based collection (e.g., Daguerreotype Collection) and a donor-based collection (e.g., Frances Benjamin Johnston Collection). Other items lack a formal collection title heading because they are in collections that have not yet been fully cataloged.


When the name of an artist, photographer, architect, printmaker, or other image creator is known, only one form of the name is used, so that it is possible to retrieve all works by one creator under a single spelling or form of the name. If the form of the name has been established in the Library of Congress Name Authority File (LCNAF), that form is used. Birth and death dates are included only when such information is readily available and the form of the name has not already been established in the LCNAF. When an LCNAF name form is established while the creator is alive, a death date is not usually added when the creator dies. It is expensive to update such information, and the name is already uniquely identified in the catalog.


  • Adams, Ansel, 1902- photographer.

The absence of a creator's name indicates that the creator is anonymous, unidentified, or unknown.

After the name, a relator term identifies the relationship(s) between the name and the work being cataloged: for example, architect, artist, copyright claimant, photographer, or publisher.


The date in the date field refers to the year(s) when a picture was created or published. The time period depicted in a picture may be conveyed through notes and subject-heading subdivision areas, especially for prints and drawings showing events that happened long before the artist portrayed them. For photographs, creation and depiction dates are usually the same, and the date field may be the only place where the date information is displayed.

Adams's Manzanar photographs were all taken in a single year, 1943.

The date is transcribed when such information appears with the picture. It is difficult to assign a specific year to undated prints and photographs. The catalogers look for clues such as styles of fashion shown in the image, the creator's life dates, and type of physical media. Often, only a span of years or decades can be estimated, and such dates are shown in brackets: for example, [between 1900 and 1930].

When the single letter "c" appears before a date, it indicates the year in which an image was deposited for copyright.

The abbreviation "ca." means "circa" and indicates a date that is approximate to within five years before or after the stated year.

Digital ID

The field begins with a word or phrase that explains the source used to create the digital image: for example, the "original" work or a "b&w copy film neg." The Library's digital images are often created by scanning one or more of the copy negatives, slides, or transparencies listed in the Reproduction Number field. The Library uses a brief file identifier for its locally programmed image displays. The URL (http) and URN handle identifiers are provided to aid display of images in other environments.

Example from Adams's Manzanar photographs:

  • (original print)
    ppprs 00376


The genre and physical characteristics of the original work are listed as plural index terms. Examples include: Broadsides, Engravings, Group portraits, Lithographs--Color, Paintings--Reproductions, Political posters, Portrait photographs, Stereographs, and Woodcuts.

These headings are sometimes subdivided by the nationality, place, or decade in which the work was created. Other subdivisions indicate whether or not the work is in color or is a reproduction of another medium. The terms come from the Thesaurus for Graphic Materials II: Genre and Physical Characteristic Terms.

Examples from Adams's Manzanar photographs:

  • Portrait photographs 1940-1950.
  • Gelatin silver prints 1940-1950.


The physical properties of the original work are described by listing a readily recognized broad category, such as photograph, drawing, or print, followed by a more specific designation, such as daguerreotype, charcoal, or aquatint. The medium is determined by examining the work. The description is also a reminder that the physical characteristics of the original work are quite different from the digital reproduction on a computer screen.

The quantity of material is also stated, although most records usually describe only a single item. Some records, however, describe tens or hundreds of items, and it is helpful to know the extent of each work to understand the specificity of the information in the catalog record.

Examples from Adams's Manzanar photographs:

  • 1 photographic print : gelatin silver.
  • 1 negative : safety film.

The dimensions of a work are rarely provided in minimal-level cataloging. When Adams provided only a negative, however, the dimensions of the negative are provided.


  • 1 negative : nitrate; 4 x 5 in.


Many types of notes are written to explain publication reproduction restrictions, sources of devised dates and titles, acquisition source, related material, the name of the collection to which the work belongs, citations to published versions, and other aspects of the work. A subject description, displayed as the SUMMARY field, may be written, especially if a title is not self-explanatory.

For the Ansel Adams Manzanar photographs, the source of the acquisition, a gift from the artist, is provided along with the range of years over which the acquisition took place.


  • No known restrictions on publication.
  • Title transcribed from Ansel Adams' caption on negative sleeve.
  • No original photographic print. Library made print in LOT 10479-1.
  • Gift; Ansel Adams; 1965-1968.
  • Forms part of: Manzanar War Relocation Center photographs

Related Names

When multiple individuals or corporate bodies contribute to a work, their names can be listed as related, or added, entries. When the nature of the contribution can be specified, a relator term, such as client, copyright claimant, interior designer, or sculptor, is added after the name.


The name of the Library division that has custody of the original work. This information can help users locate or cite the original.


  • Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Reproduction Number

This alpha-numeric code identifies existing black-and-white and color negatives, slides, or transparencies from which prints, transparencies, and other photographic reproductions can be ordered. This number is also the most useful (and shortest) reference citation to include with any subsequent publication of the image.

A qualifying phrase identifies the type of reproduction (e.g., color transparency) and points out which reproductions are only details or cropped versions of the original works. This information can help users decide which copy they want to reproduce.

The abbreviation "b&w" stands for black-and-white.


Catalogers assign index terms that describe what the image shows as well as what the image is about. For example, a political cartoon depicting a basketball game in which the players are dribbling a globe is "of" basketball and "about" international relations. Most of the topical terms come from the Thesaurus for Graphic Materials I: Subject Terms. The proper noun headings come from the Library of Congress Name Authority File and from the Library of Congress Subject Headings.

Adams's Manzanar photographs examples:

  • Arrivals & departures --California--Manzanar--1940-1950
  • Bridge (Game)--California--Manzanar¬≠1940-1950
  • Japanese Americans--California--Manzanar--1940-1950 [for photos of people]
  • Manzanar War Relocation Center--Facilities--1940-1950 [each record]
  • Nurses--California--Manzanar--1940-1950
  • Takeno, Roy, 1913-
  • World War, 1939-1945--Japanese Americans--California--Manzanar [each record]

Some collections have only preliminary index headings and do not use standard vocabulary sources such as the Thesaurus for Graphic Materials. For example, the Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record (HABS/HAER) uses an uncontrolled indexing vocabulary in which different terms, such as "Car dealership" and "Auto dealership," are sometimes used for the same subject, because the material being cataloged used those different terms. The Gottscho-Schleisner Collection headings focus on terms for types of structures (for example, "Automobile dealerships") and use few proper names for subjects such as buildings. (The title includes an informal building or project name taken from the photographer's logbook.)

Terms are sometimes subdivided by place and date of depiction. In other cases, the place names are expressed as hierarchical geographic "strings" to allow keyword access to names of countries and states as well as counties and cities.


  • Canada--British Columbia--Vancouver
  • United States--Maryland--Baltimore

Title and Statement of Responsibility

Whenever possible, the title is transcribed from the original picture, or from a photographer's logbook or negative jacket. If the picture carries no caption, a title is devised from another source and displayed in brackets. Devised titles are written by Library staff, or they might come from a published book illustration or a former owner.

The terms "[sic]" and "[i.e.]" indicate erroneous spellings or information in transcribed titles. The correct information is provided as needed in the title or a note.

The titles of the Ansel Adams Manzanar photographs come from handwritten or typed annotations provided by Adams on the prints themselves and the negative sleeves. A stock note identifies the source of the title: "Title transcribed from Ansel Adams' caption on verso of print."

Title example:

  • Richard Kobayashi, farmer with cabbages, Manzanar Relocation Center, California

The presence of a signature with the prints or the photographer's stamp on the negative sleeves was transcribed as a statement of responsibility, which is separated from the title by a slash "/" mark. The photographer's full stamp reads "Photograph by Ansel Adams, Route 1, Box 181, Carmel, California."