Dorothea Lange’s photos of Japanese interment in America are less well-known than her other Farm Security Administration works like ‘Migrant Mother‘ – and there’s a reason for that. The unflinching view of the events captured in her photos landed them in the US National Archive, with many labeled ‘impounded,’ where they sat for decades.
Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the US government announced the mandatory relocation of people of Japanese ancestry, the majority of which were American citizens, to internment camps. Lange was commissioned to photograph the events, both as people were displaced from homes and business, and later as they reported to assembly centers and were ultimately sent to the camps.
Lange’s photos painted a brutally honest picture of every phase of the internment, and were seemingly met with displeasure from the military as they were quietly impounded and archived. A 2006 book put the censored images front and center for the first time. You can see a few of the images here; Anchor Editions has published some information about the images and is offering prints with half of proceeds going to the ACLU.