|Migrant Mother -- Nipomo, Calif. 1936|
As impressive as her talent was, Lange often had to fight to get her pictures published. In Dorothea Lange: A Life Beyond LimitsLinda Gordon recounted how Lange's insightful captions to her pictures made for the FSA were often censored through the influence of right-wing Agricultural Dept. bureaucrats. Lange ran into even more egregious censorship when she was hired by the Office of War Information to document the relocation and internment of Japanese-Americans to the Manzanar camp at the beginning of WWII.
The intent of the government's propaganda machine was to emphasize the humane manner in which the imprisonment was conducted, but they soon realized they had made a serious mistake in hiring a whistle-blower to do the job. Taylor recounted how minders were assigned to follow Lange everywhere she went, and how they constantly interfered with her efforts to portray anything they thought hinted at the crimes that were being committed against Japanese-Americans. The experience was devastating for Lange, but she stuck it out until the OWI finally fired her. Her pictures of the internment were suppressed for about a decade and some have never been found.