Impounded: Dorothea Lange and the Censored Images of Japanese American Internment,
edited by Linda Gordon and Gary Y. Okihiro, Norton, New York 2006, $29.95
Dorthea Lange was already celebrated for her haunting Work Progress Administration (WPA) photos when the U.S. War Relocation Authority hired her to shoot their “resettlement” of Japanese Americans in 1942. It was a strange but inspired choice. Lange’s WPA work so clearly resonates with sympathy for the migrant farmers of the Depression that it shouldn’t have been surprising when her seven hundred-plus photos for the War Relocation Authority all-too-vividly portrayed the humanity of its victims. But apparently it was. After she put in six months of seven-day-a-week shooting around heavy Army-imposed restrictions, Lange’s photos of Japanese American internment were seized. (Eventually the negatives were quietly placed in the National Archives.) This book marks the first time some of the 97% that were kept from public view are finally seeing daylight. Lange’s captions are as unflinchingly direct as her shots.
Originally published in the June 2007 issue of World War II Magazine. To subscribe, click here.