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Help preserve history. ID the people in incarceration camp photos

The Library of Congress is encouraging survivors and descendants of those depicted in photos of incarceration camps during World War II to help identify them.

Workers just recently completed scanning and cataloging the remaining War Relocation Authority photographs in the Library of Congress collections.

A set of 30 photos have been released through an album in the Library of Congress Flickr Project.

Many of those in the photos are unidentified. By obtaining the names of these people, the Library hopes to to gain a deeper understanding of the historic photographs.

Recently the daughter of Satsuki Ina recognized her mother in the photo below.

WRA Photo

Famed photographer Dorothea Lange took the photograph on April 25, 1942 in San Francisco.

Ina had been waiting in line to receive a number to be processed for the removal to the Tanforan Assembly Center five days later. That Center in San Bruno, CA had been a race track, but is now a shopping center.

In the photograph, Ina appears to have a worried expression. She had been unidentified for almost 80 years until her daughter came forward. The photograph had been reproduced by artist Adrian Tomine who was her grandson. He made a print of the photo for a fundraiser for the non-profit social justice organization, Tsuru for Solidarity.

When the Library of Congress heard about the reproduction, it reached out to the family and received permission to add her name to the collection.

The family has actually known about the photograph since the late 1980’s.

“The National Japanese American Historical Society put together a calendar in the late 1980s. My mother and I were talking, and she said, “Oh, some people have been calling me, telling me that my picture is in the calendar,” said Ina’s daughter, Satsuki.

“When I came down to visit her I saw this stunning photo, and clearly it was her. I said, “What were you doing there?” And she said, “This is me when I was at Kinmon Hall with watchmaker Oji-san,” who was the surrogate father to my father. “I didn’t know that anybody took a picture of me.”

Satsuki’s recollections of the photograph are recorded in a blog post for the Library of Congress.

“My parents lost hope in America. They felt very diminished by their experience, humiliated. It was an indefinite detention, and they had no idea how long they were going to be held. They lost everything that they had and did not feel that there was any promise for their kids,” Satsuki Ina continued.

(Due to a typo, an earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the non-profit social justice organization mentioned, Tsuru for Solidarity)

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  1. Please correct the name of non-profit organization that Adrian Tomine fundraised for with a print of the photo. It is TSURU FOR SOLIDARITY. TsurU being the Japanese word for ‘crane’ – and the meaning is akin to folding 1,000 origami paper cranes for one special wish to come true. Thank you.


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