Photographer Dorothea Lange’s photographs of the rural poor during the Depression are well-known, even if many cannot identify her. Less well-known are the photographs Lange took of the internment of Japanese Americans in the spring of 1942. This is because these images were once confiscated by the United States government.
But now, more than 60 years later, 119 of the approximately 800 photographs made by Lange will be published in Impounded: Dorothea Lange and the Censored Images of Japanese American Internment (Norton, Nov.). Co-edited by history professors Linda Gordon of New York University and Gary Okihiro of Columbia University, the book marks the first time the images have been published as a collection (approximately 97 percent of the photos have never been published). Gordon is currently writing a biography of Lange.
“These photographs exemplify Lange’s mastery of composition and of visual condensation of human feelings and relationships,” Gordon writes in one of the book’s two essays written by its co-editors. “They also unequivocally denounce an unjustified, unnecessary, and racist policy.”