Photo collection from Japanese internment camp donated

Jul 8, 2011

The largest private collection of photographs taken during World War II at an internment camp for Japanese-Americans is being donated to Washington State University.

The more than 2,000 black and white photo negatives were taken by George Hirahara and his son Frank between 1943 and 1945 at the Heart Mountain camp in Wyoming. (More photos inside.)

The Hirahara family was relocated from their home in Yakima, Wash, at the start of the war to Heart Mountain.

Steve Nakata, a spokesperson for WSU, said he was surprised to see a photo of the inside an internment barracks of the Hiraharas’ darkroom.

“And then the equipment was the second big surprise. I mean, a lot of this stuff was very professional in nature, especially for that time. These guys were so interested in photography that I guess it didn’t matter if they had to spend a lot of money on it or sacrifice a lot of their living space to be able to produce these beautiful images.”

Nakata says the Hiraharas took family portraits, and pictures of weddings and engagement parties that happened while they were detained.

After the war Frank Hirahara attended Washington State, where he majored in electrical engineering and participated on the varsity track team.

His daughter is donating the collection.

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The Northwest News Network contributed to this report.