• Mt. Williamson and cemetery monument


    National Historic Site California

Dorothea Lange Gallery

Dorothea Lange had already achieved success as a documentary photographer with her depression era work with the Farm Security Administration when she joined the War Relocation Authority in 1941. Unlike Ansel Adams, Lange was involved with the relocation from the beginning. Her Manzanar photographs depict the early days of camp when barracks were being constructed, classrooms were still haphazardly arranged, and life for the internees was more uncertain. Where Adams portraits seem almost heroic, Lange more often catches the semi-tragic atmosphere of her subjects.

The captions with Lange's photos in our gallery are in her own words. Today we use the term "internee" to talk about the Japanese Americans who lived in the camps. Lange's usage of "evacuee" to describe her photographic subjects reflects the common terminology of 1942.

Lange’s Manzanar photographs are part of the National Archives and can be easily accessed on-line at the Japanese American Relocation Digital Archive (JARDA).


Did You Know?

Aerial view of Manzanar today. Photo by Michael Wehrey.

The city of Los Angeles gets much of its water from the Owens Valley, and it owns the majority of the land on the valley floor. The federal government leased the land for the camp from Los Angeles because it was vacant and had water.