King Juda and his family, Bikini Island

Soon after the end of World War II, President Harry S. Truman issued a directive to Army and Navy officials that joint testing of nuclear weapons would be necessary "to determine the effect of atomic bombs on American warships."
Bikini Island was chosen to be the new nuclear proving ground for the U.S. government because of its location away from regular air and sea routes. In order for testing to get underway, the natives were removed from the island. Mydans was sent to the island to document the exodus of the people of Bikini. The story was published by LIFE (Mar 25, 1946).
Bikini's population numbered only 160 people from 11 families before it was evacuated. It was governed by a paramount chief (whom U.S. sailors began calling "king") and alaps or family heads. In this picture, Chief Juda sits with his family. Clothes were optional for children but adults were taught by missionaries to wear them despite the hot weather.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Date made
Mydans, Carl
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
overall: 8 in x 10 in; 20.32 cm x 25.4 cm
place made
Marshall Islands: Ralik Chain, Bikini
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Carl Mydans
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Photographic History
Carl Mydans
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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