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War Relocation Authority Photographs of Japanese-American Evacuation and Resettlement, 1942-1945
April 13, 2008 3:19 PM   Subscribe

The War Relocation Authority Photographs of Japanese-American Evacuation and Resettlement, 1942-1945 collection is a searchable online archive which "contains approximately 7000 photographs and 317 Kodachrome slides which have been arranged into 18 series" (quoted from the Scope and Content page). Links to photo series are under the Container Listing header. Alternatively, you can just browse through them all.

Also from the Scope and Content page: "It is important to note that the photograph collection, as the official documentation of the WRA, reflects the point of view that the WRA wanted to present to the citizens of the United States during World War II. A number of photographs exist in 5 x 7 format and as enlargements that one assumes were made for public exhibition. The photographs, presumably created for public exhibition, and the captions accompanying them written by WRA staff, present an idealistic view of the relocation centers which clashes greatly with the harsh realities detailed by many survivors and historians in the decades following the internment."
posted by cog_nate (9 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Awesome collection, thanks for the post.

Heart Mountain Wyoming then... and now.

Relocation propaganda film.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 4:00 PM on April 13, 2008


Very very cool, though the search function is not working well for me.

This is a rare photograph of Nyogen Senzaki, who was arguably the father of American Zen Buddhism, interned at Heart Mountain. Senzaki accompanied his teacher, the great Soen Nakagawa, to San Francisco to teach, and to escape the surge in Japanese nationalism during the war. There, one day in Golden Gate Park, Nakagawa gave him permission to go off on his own, saying, "Just face the great city and see whether it conquers you or you conquer it. Do not feel obliged to serve me any longer."

When Nakagawa died back in Japan, Senzaki launched a series of temporary meditation halls in San Francisco and Los Angeles that he called the Floating Zendo, maintaining this community practice even while interned at Heart Mountain. Later, Jack Kerouac wrote in his classic novel The Dharma Bums, "Ho! What we need is a floating zendo, where an old Bodhisattva can wander from place to place and always be sure to find a spot to sleep in among friends and cook up mush." This statement prefigured everything from backpacking to the peripatetic Deadhead subculture. Though Kerouac didn't mention Senzaki, I bet he picked up the phrase in San Francisco, and may have even sat with Senzaki sometime.
posted by digaman at 4:04 PM on April 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


propaganda film

Is it amazing how people can accept such transparent bullshit in their own time, but a few decades later it's obvious?
posted by digaman at 4:57 PM on April 13, 2008


Very very cool, though the search function is not working well for me.

Yeah, that search function works in a way I have never seen before. After it tells you what it found, if you scroll down you will see where the results show up in the directories, noted by a red number in brackets. Not the greatest, but oh well.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 5:00 PM on April 13, 2008


Heart Mountain Wyoming then... and now

I meant to note that the mountain itself, seen in the first photo, was behind me when I took mine so it's not in the photo. Don't want anyone to think Copperfield vanished the mountain or anything.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 5:05 PM on April 13, 2008


Wow, nice find, cog_nate, and great story digaman.

Although it's not as interesting (that's not the right word, but I can't think of anything else right now) as the actual photos, I've always liked Roger Shimomura's paintings about the internment camps.
posted by sleepy pete at 5:10 PM on April 13, 2008



Is it amazing how people can accept such transparent bullshit in their own time, but a few decades later it's obvious?

Heh. My wife and I saw a commercial for some HBO movie about the 2000 recount and we couldn't understand why anyone would want to watch it. I thought it was probably because outrage eight years too late is what some are feeling now. Or maybe HBO is just trying to cash in on an election year?
posted by sleepy pete at 5:14 PM on April 13, 2008


For 18 years I drove past the remains of the Fort Lincoln Internment Camp at the Bismarck, North Dakota city limits. The same camp that once housed German "enemies" is now the United Tribes Technical College and a military equipment depot.

Though I'd always known the buildings were something out-of-place, it wasn't until late high school that I discovered what the camp really was -- online. It's not something Bismarck prides itself on. Even now, (and especially now, given Guantanamo and special rendition) I can't help but think when driving out there to visit my parents -- those buildings are a constant reminder about just how badly things can go.
posted by fake at 5:25 PM on April 13, 2008


Everything from the OAC is fascinating. The historic wealth of info just baffles the mind. This is a great collection, but dig deeper and you'll find wartime shipbuilding photos by Dorthea Lange, little known photos of now-abandoned ghost towns in death valley, and more.
posted by AliaCamu at 2:09 PM on April 14, 2008


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