The Library of Congress and Flickr want your help identifying Japanese Americans imprisoned during World War II: A Digital Photography Review

Shizuko Ina (centre) was recently identified by the US Library of Congress in this photo from 1942. Ina was imprisoned in the US from 1942-1946.

World War II was a terrifying experience for many people around the world. On American soil, Pearl Harbor was not the only tragedy. After the Japanese attack on Hawaii, more than one hundred thousand Japanese Americans fell victim to national security concerns. President Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066 resulted in the incarceration of Japanese Americans in restricted areas and internment camps that were established between 1942 and 1946. In total, there were 10 detention camps estimated at 120,000 Japanese Americans, about two-thirds of which were US citizens, during the war.

Many inmates remain unidentified, and the Library of Congress wants the public’s help to learn more about those who fell victim to the widespread fear of the 1940s. Flickr is also the join the quest, ask people to look over a album photos taken before and during the Japanese-American internship. Survivors and descendants are encouraged to provide names of unidentified subjects and, ideally, provide additional context and history to be preserved in the Library of Congress’ extensive catalog.

One such prisoner has not been identified for 80 years. However, the Library of Congress was able to connect with her daughter and grandson. Shizuko Ina has now been identified in catalog profile for her photo (first image) and additional background and history have been added. The image, taken by famed photographer Dorothea Lange, shows Ina standing at Kinmon Hall in San Francisco on April 25, 1942, waiting to be assigned a ‘family number’ before being detained along with her husband. , Itaru Ina. The Ina family was transferred to a concentration camp in Topaz, Utah, before being transferred to the Tule Lake Separation Center in Northern California. The family was separated in 1945 and then reunited at a camp in Texas in 1946. This additional information was provided by Shizuko Ina’s daughter, Satsuki, Ina, in February 2020.

Fear and war can bring out the worst in people. It is important that countries, including the United States, not deny the ugly parts of their past. Even if that felt justifiable to some at the time, the American citizen’s internment was nothing more than rampant racism and abuse of power. The clock cannot be turned back, but we can broaden our understanding of those affected by incarceration and ensure that victims are not forgotten.

If you or anyone you know can help, please send them collection. There are 30 photos that need treatment, similar background and history. The entire collection of 127 images can be viewed at Library of Congress.

Image courtesy of the Library of Congress and Flickr.

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