How Photographers Captured the Incarceration of Japanese Americans During WWII

                                San Pedro, California, April 5, 1942. CLEM ALBERS/COURTESY NATIONAL ARCHIVES AND RECORDS ADMINISTRATION

Photographer Toyo Miyatake was 14 when he arrived in America in 1909, and 46 when he was forcibly moved from his home in Los Angeles to the Manzanar incarceration camp. By then, he was a father of four and owner of a photo studio. As he and his family gathered their belongings—whatever they could carry—he grabbed a few items that were considered contraband: a lens, a shutter, and film holders.

The events that led to the Miyatake’s imprisonment had been rapid, but they were the result of well-established prejudice. In February 1942, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. Less than three months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the order established a “Pacific military zone” in California, Washington, and Oregon, from which “any and all persons” could be excluded. The language was deliberately nonspecific, but it authorized the incarceration of 120,000 citizens or legal residents of Japanese descent… How Photographers Captured the Incarceration of Japanese …

A new exhibition examines a dark history.