In 1941 Pearl Harbour became the scene of a devasting surprise attack by Japanese forces. After decades of being on the edge of war with Japan, the attack pushed the US to join World War II. Not only did this attack took thousands of lives but also triggered racial prejudices towards Japanese-Americans which led to mass 'evacuation' of around 1200,000 people.

On February 19, 1942, just a couple months after the attack, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order to deport and incarcerate all Japanese-Americans. Thousands of people, many of whom were born in the US, were forced to abandon their houses, businesses, farms, and possessions. They were loaded into busses with only as many things as they can carry with no knowledge of where they're going and how long they're staying there.

A photographer Dorothea Lange who is probably best known for her photo titled Migrant Mother was hired by the US government to document the evacuation. The photographer perfectly captured the devastating moments of Japanese-Americans leaving their old lives behind and entering into the unknown. However, the military wasn't happy with Lange's opposing opinion of the internment camps. The photographs were seized from her and only made public in 2006. Today we finally have the opportunity to look back at this particular moment in history and see for our selves how the lives of Japanese-Americans were changed forever.

#1

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Original caption: Hayward, California. Members of the Mochida family awaiting evacuation bus. Identification tags are used to aid in keeping the family unit intact during all phases of evacuation. Mochida operated a nursery and five greenhouses on a two-acre site in Eden Township. He raised snapdragons and sweet peas. Evacuees of Japanese ancestry will be housed in War Relocation Authority centers for the duration.

Dorothea Lange Report

Monty Glue 5 months ago

Tags to keep the children with their families, what a novel idea. I wonder if it would help those poor immigrant kids they put in the dog kennels while the parents were deported. ICE, if you're listening...good idea here, low tech, low cost, and it works.

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#2

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The full caption for this photograph reads: San Francisco, California. Many children of Japanese ancestry attended Raphael Weill public School, Geary and Buchanan Streets, prior to evacuation. This scene shows first- graders during flag pledge ceremony. Evacuees of Japanese ancestry will be housed in War Relocation Authority centers for the duration. Provision will be effected for the continuance of education.

Dorothea Lange Report

Jerry Mathers 5 months ago

Oh the irony here (especially the "with liberty and justice for all" part.

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#3

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The full caption for this photograph reads: Manzanar Relocation Center, Manzanar, California. Third grade students working on their arithmetic lesson at this first volunteer elementary school. School equipment was not yet available at the time this photograph was taken.

Dorothea Lange Report

Calypso poet 5 months ago

Wow, we were very cruel not that long ago and are still doing the same c r @ p.

#4

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The full caption for this photograph reads: Manzanar Relocation Center, Manzanar, California. Grandfather and grandson of Japanese ancestry at this War Relocation Authority center.

Dorothea Lange Report

Monty Glue 5 months ago

The pain in the grandfather's face is very clear. Born and raised here, and then to be treated so badly. A sin.

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#5

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The full caption for this photograph reads: Hayward, California. A farm girl helps unload family baggage in a final step before evacuation. Evacuees of Japanese ancestry will be housed in War Relocation Authority centers for the duration.

Dorothea Lange Report

Monty Glue 5 months ago

They took terrible hardship with such good cheer.

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#6

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The full caption for this photograph reads: Centerville, California. This youngster is awaiting evacuation bus. Evacuees of Japanese ancestry will be housed in War Relocation Authority centers for the duration.

Dorothea Lange Report

Panda Baller 5 months ago

They lost everything they worked so hard for. Japanese people are proud of working hard and had to swallow false accusations of being traitors and spies. Some of these families were business owners and had long been since they where in their own homeland. They didn't have anyone left in Japan. Confused and scared.

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#7

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Manzanar Relocation Center, Manzanar, California. Little evacuee of Japanese ancestry gets a haircut.

Dorothea Lange Report

Agnes Jekyll 5 months ago

Beautiful child

#8

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The full caption for this photograph reads: Manzanar Relocation Center, Manzanar, California. Making camouflage nets for the War Department. This is one of several War and Navy Department projects carried on by persons of Japanese ancestry in relocation centers.

Dorothea Lange Report

Jerry Mathers 5 months ago

I wonder if they were paid for their work?

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#9

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The full caption for this photograph reads: Manzanar Relocation Center, Manzanar, California. Evacuees enjoying the creek which flows along the outer border of this War Relocation Authority center.

Dorothea Lange Report

Monty Glue 5 months ago

Now that is a nice image. Could be under better circumstances, but still very nice respite from the desert heat.

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#10

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The full caption for this photograph reads: Manzanar Relocation Center, Manzanar, California. An elementary school with voluntary attendance has been established with volunteer teachers, most of whom are college graduates. These young evacuees are eager to learn and do not mind the lack of equipment.

Dorothea Lange Report

Elena Popowitch 5 months ago

Do you suppose there's a reason they're all boys in these schoolroom photos?

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#11

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The full caption for this photograph reads: Manzanar Relocation Center, Manzanar, California. More land is being cleared of sage-brush at the southern end of the project at this War Relocation Authority center for evacuees of Japanese ancestry.

Dorothea Lange Report

L 5 months ago

Did the internees of Nazi Germany build their concentration camps????!

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#12

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Scene of barrack homes at this War Relocation Authority Center for evacuees of Japanese ancestry. A hot windstorm brings dust from the surrounding desert.

cdlib.org Report

Monty Glue 5 months ago

Looks like hell on earth. Those Americans did not deserve this fate.

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#13

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The full caption for this photograph reads: San Fransico, California. Street scene in Japanese quarter on day preceding evacuation to assembly center. Their household effects will be stored.

Dorothea Lange Report

Gipsy Kings fan 5 months ago

The Japanese-Americans who were able to get their possessions back often had to face horribly unfair obstacles. From website of Fugetsu-Do mochi (sweet rice cake) shop in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, the oldest food establishment in L.A.: "Upon their return [from the internment camp], Roy and Kazuko [Kito] struggled to reestablish the family business. First, they had to retrieve their equipment, but the property owner demanded four years of back rent for storing it. When the Kitos couldn't pay, he kept their machinery. So, they slept at Koyasan Temple while Roy worked as a waiter making 20 cents an hour, but on Boy's Day, May 5, 1946, he re-opened Fugetsu-Do on East First Street..." http://www.fugetsu-do.com/history.htm

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#14

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The full caption for this photograph reads: Manzanar Relocation Center, Manzanar, California. A typical interior scene in one of the barrack apartments at this center. Note the cloth partition which lends a small amount of privacy.

Dorothea Lange Report

Pamula Furness 5 months ago

I'm shocked at the treatment of these people, and at how dignified and organised they were. War really does bring out the worst, and the best, in people!

#15

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The full caption for this photograph reads: Manzanar Relocation Center, Manzanar, California. The first grave at the Manzanar Center's cemetery. It is that of Matsunosuke Murakami, 62, who died of heart disease on May 16. He had been ill ever since he arrived here with the first contingent and had been confined to the hospital since March 23.

Dorothea Lange Report

Max Harkins 5 months ago

RIP Matsunosuke Murakami may he lay forever in peace in the arms of the Almighty Father.

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#16

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The full caption for this photograph reads: Manzanar Relocation Center, Manzanar, California. Evacuees watching a baseball game at this War Relocation Authority center. This is a very popular recreation with 80 teams having been formed throughout the Center. Most of the playing is done between the blocks of barracks in the firebreak space.

Dorothea Lange Report

Les🐝an 5 months ago

The worst part is that they made it "homey" while they had basically imprisoned these people.

#17

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The full caption for this photograph reads: Manzanar Relocation Center, Manzanar, California. View of the Manzanar Relocation Center showing the buildings (right) where camouflage nets are made.

Dorothea Lange Report

Max Harkins 5 months ago

I know this is bad, but this is also strangely impressive. The organized manner is astounding. It is so efficient, and so effective. For a bad purpose, however. Brilliantly designed, tho.

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#18

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The full caption for this photograph reads: Manzanar Relocation Center, Manzanar, California. Johnny Fukazawa, evcauee of Japanese ancestry at this War Relocation Authority center, weeding corn in the farm project.

Dorothea Lange Report

Max Harkins 5 months ago

This is so horrifying. These people were paid, but not that much for the tedious work they do.

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#19

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The full caption for this photograph reads: Manzanar Relocation Center, Manzanar, California. Young sixth-grade students studying their lessons in the shade of the barracks at this first voluntary elementary school.

Dorothea Lange Report

Max Harkins 5 months ago

This is so sad! They did not deserve this!

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#20

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The full caption for this photograph reads: Manzanar Relocation Center, Manzanar, California. Mary Uyesato, trained laboratory assistant at work in the medical center at this War Relocation Authority Center for evacuees of Japanese ancestry.

Dorothea Lange Report

seriously tho 4 months ago

oh my goodness, look how skinny she is, they probably didn't have decent food and were overworked

#21

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The full caption for this photograph reads: Manzanar Relocation Center, Manzanar, California. Mealtime in one of the messhalls at this War Relocation Authority center for evacuees of Japanese ancestry.

Dorothea Lange Report

#22

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The full caption for this photograph reads: Manzanar Relocation Center, Manzanar, California. Evacuees enjoying games under the shade of trees near the creek which flows through the desert on the border of this War Relocation Authrority center.

Dorothea Lange Report

#23

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The full caption for this photograph reads: Manzanar Relocation Center, Manzanar, California. The two youngest of the 65 evacuee orphans in the Childrens' Village at this War Relocation Authrority center for evacuees of Japanese ancestry.

Dorothea Lange Report

Katchen 5 months ago

If they’re orphans, why did they need to be relocated? Did anyone think these babies were spying for Japan?

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#24

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The full caption for this photograph reads: Sacramento, California. Typical homes of residents of Japanese ancestry. Evacuation to assembly centers is due in a few days and preparations are now under way.

Dorothea Lange Report

Agnes Jekyll 5 months ago

Tragic. Heartbreaking.

#25

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The full caption for this photograph reads: Manzanar Relocation Center, Manzanar, California. Evacuees enjoying the creek which flows along the outer border of this War Relocation Authority center.

Dorothea Lange Report

#26

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The full caption for this photograph reads: San Francisco, California. Residents of Japanese ancestry appear for registration prior to evacuation. Evacuees will be housed in War Relocation Authority centers for the duration.

Dorothea Lange Report

Monty Glue 5 months ago

Survive the great depression and then go to prison camp for 4 years.

#27

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The full caption for this photograph reads: Manzanar Relocation Center, Manzanar, California. A complete record, by personal interview, is being made of every evacuee of Japanese ancestry at this War Relocation Authority center.

Dorothea Lange Report

#28

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The full caption for this photograph reads: Manzanar Relocation Center, Manzanar, California. These young evacuees are attending the first elementary school at this War Relocation Authority center. There are six grades with volunteer teachers and voluntary attendance.

Dorothea Lange Report

Michele Ottone 5 months ago

Here are girls, too. Which proves icorrect the theory of girls not being educated.

#29

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The full caption for this photograph reads: Manzanar Relocation Center, Manzanar, California. Making camouflage nets for the War Department. This is one of several War and Navy Department projects carried on by persons of Japanese ancestry in relocation centers.

Dorothea Lange Report

Martha Meyer 5 months ago

Notice the reframing of incarceration as “evacuation“. Disgusting.

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#30

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The full caption for this photograph reads: Manzanar Relocation Center, Manzanar, California. An elementary school with voluntary attendance has been established with volunteer evacuee teachers, most of whom are college graduates. No school equipment is as yet obtainable and available tables and benches are used.

Dorothea Lange Report