Event—Public Programming

Un-American: The Incarceration of Japanese Americans During World War II

Exactly 75 years ago, the United States government rounded up more than 109,000 residents of Japanese ancestry and sent them to far-flung prisons for the duration of World War II in the name of security. Many were forced to abandon their land. Many gave up their personal property. Each lost a part of their lives. It is a shame of America. Amazingly, the government hired a crew of photographers to document the entire process—from the final weeks of freedom to the desolate years in camps. Famed photographers Dorothea Lange, Ansel Adams, and others showed the human toll of the incarceration. Their photographs give an emotional, unflinching portrait of a nation concerned more about security than human rights. These photographs are more important than ever. Authors Richard Cahan and Michael Williams—noted photo historians—took a careful look at the archive of images as they put together a powerful history of one of America’s defining moments. Now, for the first time, many of the people photographed have been located and interviewed to create a remarkable visual history with explicit pictures and unexpected stories. The result is the most comprehensive look at the incarcaration of Japanese Americans. The story is told with brilliant pictures that help us better understand this important chapter in U.S. history.