Toyo Miyatake and Dorothea Lange – Japanese internment camp photographs


Figure 1 – Dorothea Lange “Students at the Weill Public School reciting the Pledge of Allegence, 1942” Taken for the FSA, in the LOC, and in the public domain.

Yesterday we spoke about Ansel Adams’ photographs of the Manzanar Relocation Camp.  In that post I mentioned two other photographers Toyo Miyatake (1896-1979)  and Dorothea Lange (1895-1965) and I thought that it would be interesting to do some websearching for the photographs of each of them from these camps.

As it turns out, Toyo Miyatake Studios, originally founded by Toyo in 1926 in Los Angeles, was moved to the San Gabriel Valley in 1985.  It is still run by his family and remains a fluorishing and sought after portrait studio. On their website they have galleries of Toyo Miyatake’s photographs taken at Manzanar and also vintage photographs of the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics as well as vintage photographs of Los Angeles’ historic Little Tokyo District.  All of these can be found at the links I have provided and are really worth visiting.

As I discussed Dorothea Lange visited all of the internment camps.  Her black and white photographs of the Great Depression under the auspices of the Farm Security Administration are legendary.  Her photographs of the camps were also taken as part of her work for the FSA and, as a result, many of them were censored by a government, itself ambiguous about the relocation and internment of American Citizens.  Much of this work was not fully revealled until the early 1970’s.

Since they are in government possession there are currently several valuable archives to consult.  Check out:

As for Figure 1, this is an image by Lange taken on April 1942. and shows first graders at the Weill Elementary School reciting the pledge of allegiance.  Within days all of the students of Japanese descent had been relocated for the duration of the war.



This entry was posted in History of Photography.