Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Anthropology

First Advisor

Bonnie J. Clark, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Esteban Gomez

Third Advisor

Roderick MacInnes


Japanese Americans, Materiality, Photo albums, Photography, Visual anthropology, World War II


The US government's incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II denied over 120,000 people basic rights and civil liberties. Limits on owning cameras inflicted unique hardship as people were unable to photographically document their lives as they had before the war. My research focuses on photographs that people managed to take and acquire in the camps, investigating the role of snapshot photography in remembering and understanding World War II experiences of incarceration. The photo albums I researched are housed in museum collections at two former sites of confinement: Manzanar National Historic Site in the Eastern Sierra of California and the Amache Museum in southeastern Colorado. Through documenting album biographies, conducting a material analysis of the photographs, and interviewing album donors, this thesis examines the use and meaning of photographs as they have changed over time and in different contexts. It explores how everyday material objects illuminate the complexities of the human experience and how museums can best engage with them.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Whitney J. Peterson


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

242 p.


Museum studies, Cultural anthropology, Asian American studies