A group gathers around a car

photo by: Japanese American National Museum

April 19, 2016

Photo Essay: Manzanar From the Inside

Interned Photographer Jack Iwata's Experience at Manzanar Relocation Center

In addition to being one of the 11,070 Japanese-Americans incarcerated at Manzanar Relocation Center, acclaimed photographer Jack Iwata worked for better-known Toyo Miyatake before going on to photograph the likes of Elvis Presley, Bette Davis, and Elizabeth Taylor for Kyodo News Service.

Born in Seattle but raised in Japan, Iwata was gifted his first camera from his father and by 1937 began working in Miyatake’s studio. However, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Iwata, like thousands of other Japanese-Americans, was forcibly removed with his wife to Manzanar Relocation Center.

While at the center Iwata continued to take photos, chronicling his time spent at both Manzanar and Tule Lake. With the assistance of the Japanese American National Museum’s Jack Iwata Collection, we have compiled a series of Iwata’s photographs from his time at the relocation center.

Families gather with their suitcases

photo by: Japanese American National Museum

Families arrive to Manzanar with luggage and children in tow.

Group and a woman with a large umbrella gather

photo by: Japanese American National Museum

A woman with an umbrella stands with people and luggage.

A woman works in the Fiscal Department

photo by: Japanese American National Museum

Women in the Fiscal Department look over a paycheck and large sheet of paper.

A large group assembles for a ceremony

photo by: Japanese American National Museum

Manzanar High School graduation ceremony.

Katharine Keane is a former editorial assistant at Preservation Magazine. She enjoys getting lost in new cities, reading the plaques at museums, and discovering the next great restaurant.

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