2017 / Japanese American National Museum: wartime farm labor camp photo exhibition, Sep. 27, 2016 – Jan. 8, 2017

The Japanese American farm labor camp outside of Nyssa, Oregon, was the first of its kind in the United States. Laborers in sugar beet field outside of Shelley, Idaho. Library of Congress, Pint & Photographs Division, FSA-OWI Collection.

The Japanese American farm labor camp outside of Nyssa, Oregon, was the first of its kind in the United States. Laborers in sugar beet field outside of Shelley, Idaho. Library of Congress, Pint & Photographs Division, Farm Security Administration – OWI Collection. (Courtesy of the Japanese American National Museum)

The Japanese American National Museum

Uprooted: Japanese American Farm Labor Camps During World War II

September 27, 2016 – January 8, 2017

In the summer of 1942, Farm Security Administration photographer Russell Lee visited four Japanese American farm labor camps located near the towns of Nyssa, Oregon; and Rupert, Shelley, and Twin Falls, Idaho.

He captured the laborers’ day-to-day lives in evocative detail, producing rare images of a little-documented episode of American history.

Lee also recorded the forced removal of individuals and families in California, taking a total of nearly 600 photographs of the Japanese American wartime experience.

Uprooted: Japanese American Farm Labor Camps During World War II showcases a selection of Lee’s farm labor camp photographs accompanied by his original captions.

Many of these images have never before been exhibited. The exhibition also includes a short documentary film featuring firsthand accounts of life in the camps.

An extensive website at uprootedexhibit.com provides materials for further study, including photographs not in the exhibition, historic documents, video clips, transcripts from oral history interviews, and lesson plans.

Uprooted seeks to contextualize Lee’s images within the history of the Farm Security Administration as well as Japanese American camp life in the two states.

The Japanese American National Museum is located at 100 North Central Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90012.  Check janm.org/visit for hours and admission fees.