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Hiroshima: United States Strategic Bombing Survey

Collection Description:

After the United States detonated an atomic bomb at Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, the U.S. government restricted the circulation of images of the bomb’s deadly effect. President Truman dispatched some 1,150 military personnel and civilians, including photographers, to record the destruction as part of the United States Strategic Bombing Survey. The goal of the Survey’s Physical Damage Division was to photograph and analyze methodically the impact of the atomic bomb on various building materials surrounding the blast site, the first “Ground Zero.”

The haunting, once classified images of absence and annihilation formed the basis for civil defense architecture in the United States. Based on the structural analysis and photographic evidence compiled at Hiroshima, the Physical Damage Division proposed two primary ways American cities could be made less susceptible to damage: relocating essential industries to smaller districts, which would reduce an atomic bomb’s ability to easily destroy manufacturing, and creating bomb-resistant buildings, including underground shelters as well as heavy steel and reinforced-concrete structures.

This collection includes over 750 photographic prints and contact images from Hiroshima, Japan, taken by the United States Physical Damage Division for the United States Strategic Bombing Survey (USSBS). This survey took place in the fall of 1945 and documented the effects of the atomic bomb on the city.

See Hiroshima: Ground Zero 1945 (May 20 - August 28, 2011)

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