March 1, 2002 Ansel Adams Images of Japanese Internment Camp and Diary of Events in Washington, D.C., During the Civil War Now Available Online
Contact: Guy Lamolinara (202) 707-9217
American Memory, the Web site of more than 7 million items from the collections of the Library of Congress and other repositories, has recently made two new collections available at www.loc.gov.
A rare set of photographs by renowned photographer Ansel Adams (1902-84), documenting Japanese Americans interned at the Manzanar War Relocation Center, is being made available during the 100th anniversary of Adams's birth.
"'Suffering Under a Great Injustice': Ansel Adams's Photographs of Japanese-American Internment at Manzanar" features 209 photographic prints and 242 original negatives taken by Adams in 1943. Their subject is the Japanese Americans who were relocated from their homes during World War II and interned in the Manzanar War Relocation Center in California. For the first time, researchers are able to see online the photographs Adams made of what Congress declared in 1988 the "grave injustice" done to people of Japanese ancestry during the war. Digital scans of both Adams's original negatives and his photographic prints appear side by side, allowing viewers to see his darkroom technique and in particular how he cropped his prints. The Web presentation also includes digital images of the first edition of Born Free and Equal, Adams's 1944 publication based on his work at Manzanar.
One of America's best-known photographers, Adams is renowned for his Western landscapes. Best remembered for his views of Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada, he made photographs that emphasize the natural beauty of the land. By contrast, Adams's photographs of people have been largely overlooked.
After Japan bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, fear of a Japanese invasion and of subversive acts by Japanese Americans prompted the government to move more than 110,000 people of Japanese ancestry from California, southern Arizona, and western Washington and Oregon to10 relocation camps. Those forcibly removed from their homes, businesses and possessions included Japanese immigrants legally forbidden to become citizens (Issei), the American-born (Nisei) and children of the American-born (Sansei).
This event struck a personal chord with Adams when Harry Oye, his parents' longtime employee who was an Issei in poor health, was summarily taken into custody by authorities and sent to a hospital halfway across the country in Missouri. Angered by this event, Adams welcomed an opportunity in the fall of 1943 to photograph Japanese Americans at Manzanar. In a departure from his usual landscape photography, Adams produced an essay on the Japanese Americans interned in this beautiful but remote and undeveloped region where the mountains served both as a metaphorical fortress and as an inspiration for the internees. Concentrating on the internees and their activities, Adams photographed family life in the barracks; people at work as welders, farmers and garment makers; and recreational activities, including baseball and volleyball games.
Adams donated the original negatives and prints from his work at Manzanar to the Library of Congress between 1965 and 1968. The collection is housed in the Library's Prints and Photographs Division, where it has been available to researchers in the Division's Reading Room.
The other new collection, "Washington During the Civil War: The Diary of Horatio Nelson Taft, 1861-1865," presents three manuscript volumes that document daily life in Washington, D.C., through the eyes of Horatio Nelson Taft (1806-1888), an examiner for the U.S. Patent Office. Now located in the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress, the diary details events in Washington during the Civil War years, including Taft's connection with Abraham Lincoln and his family.
Of special interest is Taft's description of Lincoln's assassination, based on the accounts of his friends and his son, who was one of the attending physicians at Ford's Theatre the night Lincoln was shot, on April 14, 1865. Transcriptions for all three volumes have been made by Library of Congress staff and are available online along with the digital images.
American Memory is a project of the National Digital Library Program of the Library of Congress. Its more than 100 collections -- which range from papers of the U.S. presidents, Civil War photographs and early films of Thomas Edison to papers documenting the women's suffrage and civil rights movements, Jazz Age photographs and the first baseball cards -- include more than 7 million items from the collections of the Library and those of other major repositories.
The latest Web site from the Library is aimed at kids and families. The colorful and interactive "America's Library" (www.americaslibrary.gov) invites users to "Log On ... Play Around ... Learn Something."