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Don’t Know Much About® Ansel Adams

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Burning leaves, autumn dawn, Manzanar Relocation Center, California Digital ID: (digital file from original print) ppprs 00308 http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppprs.00308

Burning leaves, autumn dawn, Manzanar Relocation Center, California Source: Library of Congress
Digital ID: (digital file from original print) ppprs 00308 http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppprs.00308

(Revision of post originally published in 2012)

Born today –February 20 in 1902– a man who changed how we see the world, Ansel Adams. 

It was the photography that launched a thousand calendars, posters, and greeting cards. You have seen his ethereal outdoor photography –maybe even if you did not know it.

But his birthdate follows by one day the anniversary of one of his most important subjects, the Internment of Japanese Americans during World War II –the policy created on February 19, 1942 by FDR’s Executive Order 9066.

In 1943, Adams photographed Manzanar, the Japanese internment camp. The Library of Congress offers an online exhibit of Adams’ wartime photos of Japanese Americans.

Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Ansel Adams, photographer, [reproduction number, e.g., LC-DIG-ppprs-00257

Of the photographs, Adams wrote, “The purpose of my work was to show how these people, suffering under a great injustice, and loss of property, businesses and professions, had overcome the sense of defeat and dispair [sic] by building for themselves a vital community in an arid (but magnificent) environment…

 

In earlier posts, I have written more about Executive Order 9066 and photographer Dorothea Lange’s work documenting the internment of Japanese Americans

Adams died at age 82 on April 22, 1984. Here is his New York Times obituary.

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