May 9, 1942: These California farm families are preparing to evacuate to internment camps, as documented by photographer Dorothea Lange.
Centerville, California. Farm families of Japanese ancestry awaiting the evacuation buses which will take them to the Tanforan Assembly center along with 595 others evacuated from this district under Civilian Exclusion Order Number 34. 05/09/1942
Dorothea Lange, photographer. From the Central Photographic File of the War Relocation Authority
May is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month. You can find our past posts on Japanese American Internment & Relocation under the #Japanese American Internment tag.
San Francisco, California. This restaurant, named “Nisei” after second-generation children born in this country to Japanese immigrants was closed prior to evacuation of residents of Japanese ancestry; and, according to sign in the window, was scheduled to re-open under new management. Evacuees will be housed at War Relocation Authority centers for [the] duration. 04/07/1942
Professional photographers such as Lange were commissioned by the WRA to document the daily life and treatment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.
Florin, California. Two of the nine American soldiers of Japanese ancestry who have returned to their home town on furloughs that were granted to them in order that they could assist their families prepare for evacuation of all persons of Japanese ancestry from their west coast homes. This community is depending on their returned service men for many errands, shopping, banking, etc., because the soldiers are permitted to travel into town, nine miles away, while others cannot because of military restrictions. 05/10/1942
“Edison, Kern County, California. Young migratory mother, originally from Texas. On the day before the photograph was made she and her husband traveled 35 miles each way to pick peas. They worked 5 hours each and together earned $2.25. They have two young children… Live in auto camp. “ 04/11/1940
—Dorothea Lange, Photographer.
The photo is one of a series taken by Dorothea Lange and Irving Rusinow for an agricultural “Community Stability and Instability” study by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics and which now form a record of pre-World War II rural life and social institutions.
San Francisco, California. The family unit in kept intact in various phases of evacuation of persons of Japanese ancestry. …A view at Wartime Civil Control Administration station, 2020 Van Ness Avenue, on April 6, 1942, when first group of 664 was evacuated from San Francisco. The family unit likewise is preserved in War Relocation Authority centers where evacuees will spend the duration.
This photo of Japanese-American evacuees was taken by Dorothea Lange on April 6, 1942. Professional photographers such as Lange were commissioned by the WRA to document the daily life and treatment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.
Just 6 more days until the 1940 Census!
This was the first time that census takers asked a random sample of the population (about 1 in 20 people) additional detailed questions. These included new questions for women. For women who had been married, they were asked: whether they had been married more than once, age at first marriage, and number of children born.
The photos above were taken by Dorothea Lange for the Farm Security Administration:
“On Arizona Highway 87, south of Chandler, Arizona. Grandmother and sick baby of migratory family camped in a trailer in an open field. They came from Amarillo, Texas, to pick cotton in Arizona. 11/1940”
“Destitute pea pickers in California. Mother of seven children, ca. 02/1936”
“Kern County, California. A couple from Oklahoma, now resettled in California. They came four years ago. Photograph is in large-scale potato field where husband is crew foreman and oldest son operates the mechanical digger. They own their home in Shafter, 04/11/1940”
Following a period of rampant speculation on Wall Street, the stock market crashed on October 29, 1929, a major precipitating event of the Great Depression — a decade-long economic catastrophe. By 1933 industrial production had fallen to one-third its pre-Depression levels, thousands of banks were closed, and almost 13 million Americans were jobless. This photo of a Depression-era bread line was taken by Dorothea Lange at the White Angel Jungle, a soup kitchen for San Francisco’s jobless.
“The White Angel Bread Line” By Dorothea Lange, San Francisco, California, 1933; Records of the Social Security Administration ; Record Group 47; National Archives.
May 26 - “…Children in a democracy…” by Dorothea Lange
Dorothea Lange, whose photographs of the unemployed and migratory farm workers became synonymous with the Great Depression, was born on May 26, 1895.
The caption of this photo reads “On Arizona Highway 87, south of Chandler. Maricopa County, Arizona. Children in a democracy. A migratory family living in a trailer in an open field. No sanitation, no water. They came from Amarillo, Texas. Pulled bolls near Amarillo, picked cotton near Roswell, New Mexico, and in Arizona. Plan to return to Amarillo at close of cotton picking season for work on WPA. 11/1940”