After many years on the road with the U.S. government’s Farm Security Administration (FSA), Lange was awarded the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship in 1941. But shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, she gave up the fellowship to take an assignment with the War Relocation Authority to document the forceful evacuation and internment of Japanese Americans. Lange’s photographs of the evacuation captured the hardships and painful experiences of evacuated families, illuminating the contradictory meanings of American citizenship and belonging during World War II.
Lange’s most intimate portraits from her work with the War Relocation Authority (WRA) were those of families, particularly women and children. Here, too, she aimed to capture both hardship and resilience, framing her subjects in ways that evoked empathy and, perhaps, stirred collective action. But unlike her previous works, her photographs documenting internment were not made publicly available as the WRA impounded them until after the war. Their impact instead came later, providing a poignant archive of a shameful chapter in American history.
Galleries & Exhibits
- 11865-1925: Hunger in the Industrial City
- 21929-1940: America in Crisis and Recovery
- 31945-1965: WWII and the Paradoxes of the Postwar Era
- 41955-1980: The Fight for the Right to Food
- 51975-1996: The Unmaking of the Great Society
- 61997-Present: How It Is — And How It Should Be