Living conditions

The "assembly centers" were hastily erected quarters located throughout the West Coast at fairgrounds, racetracks and other similar facilities. Conditions at these locations were appalling. People were housed in animal stalls and barracks with communal bathrooms and mess halls. Privacy was next to nonexistent. Most families lived in a 20-by-20-foot room separated from the next "apartment" by wood partitions that did not reach the ceiling. Shortages of food and deplorable sanitation were common. Overcrowding, uncertainty, and stress created tension in the "assembly centers," even as the demoralized camp inmates tried to improve living conditions.

Living conditions (267)

267 items
View of barracks (ddr-densho-151-336)
img View of barracks (ddr-densho-151-336)
Original caption: San Bruno, California. A close-up of the exterior of a family unit. These barracks were formerly horse-stalls. Each family is assigned two small rooms. The interior one has neither outside door nor window.
Henry Sakamoto Interview Segment 5 (ddr-one-7-33-5)
vh Henry Sakamoto Interview Segment 5 (ddr-one-7-33-5)
Adjusting to lack of privacy in camp

This material is based upon work assisted by a grant from the Department of the Interior, National Park Service. Any opinions, finding, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of the Interior.

Yoichi
vh Yoichi "Cannon" Kitayama Interview Segment 13 (ddr-one-7-46-13)
Living conditions at the Portland Assembly Center

This material is based upon work assisted by a grant from the Department of the Interior, National Park Service. Any opinions, finding, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of the Interior.

Eiichi Edward Sakauye Interview Segment 19 (ddr-jamsj-2-7-19)
vh Eiichi Edward Sakauye Interview Segment 19 (ddr-jamsj-2-7-19)
Journey to Santa Anita Assembly Center, California; description of conditions
Eiichi Edward Sakauye Interview Segment 20 (ddr-jamsj-2-7-20)
vh Eiichi Edward Sakauye Interview Segment 20 (ddr-jamsj-2-7-20)
Working in an assembly center as a custodian of camp inmates'' property
Alice Matsumoto Ando Interview Segment 4 (ddr-one-7-73-4)
vh Alice Matsumoto Ando Interview Segment 4 (ddr-one-7-73-4)
A child's memories of the assembly center

This material is based upon work assisted by a grant from the Department of the Interior, National Park Service. Any opinions, finding, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of the ...

George Hanada Interview Segment 5 (ddr-jamsj-2-5-5)
vh George Hanada Interview Segment 5 (ddr-jamsj-2-5-5)
Witnessing the so-called Santa Anita "riot"

This interview was conducted by the Japanese American Museum of San Jose, and is part of a project entitled "Lasting Stories: The Resettlement of San Jose Japantown," a collaborative project between the Japanese American Museum of San Jose and Densho.

Taylor Tomita Interview Segment 12 (ddr-one-7-61-12)
vh Taylor Tomita Interview Segment 12 (ddr-one-7-61-12)
Building furniture out of scrap lumber

This material is based upon work assisted by a grant from the Department of the Interior, National Park Service. Any opinions, finding, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of the Interior.

Tatsukichi Moritani Interview Segment 9 (ddr-densho-1001-2-9)
vh Tatsukichi Moritani Interview Segment 9 (ddr-densho-1001-2-9)
First sight of Manzanar concentration camp: "sure is a desolate-looking place"
Chizuko Iyama - Ernie Iyama Interview Segment 2 (ddr-densho-1012-5-2)
vh Chizuko Iyama - Ernie Iyama Interview Segment 2 (ddr-densho-1012-5-2)
First impressions of camp: "the camps were certainly not good for families" (audio only)

This interview is audio-only. It contains raw footage used by Steven Okazaki in his 1985 film Unfinished Business.

This material is based upon work assisted by a grant from the Department of the Interior, National Park Service. Any opinions, finding, and conclusions ...

George S. Matsui Segment 7 (ddr-densho-1008-2-7)
vh George S. Matsui Segment 7 (ddr-densho-1008-2-7)
Bad food in camp

Members of the National Japanese American Historical Society (NJAHS) arranged for and conducted this interview in conjunction with Densho.

Tsuguo
vh Tsuguo "Ike" Ikeda Interview I Segment 10 (ddr-densho-1000-123-10)
Memories of the Portland Assembly Center, Oregon: working to distribute dairy products, help people settle

As a teenager prior to World War II, began keeping scrapbooks with newspaper articles and memorabilia, a lifetime habit.

Gene Akutsu Segment 8 (ddr-densho-1000-1-8)
vh Gene Akutsu Segment 8 (ddr-densho-1000-1-8)
Mass removal, and conditions in Puyallup Assembly Center: cleaning septic tanks
May Y. Namba Interview Segment 15 (ddr-densho-1000-171-15)
vh May Y. Namba Interview Segment 15 (ddr-densho-1000-171-15)
Spending twentieth birthday in camp: receiving a birthday cake from a military police officer
Roy H. Matsumoto Interview Segment 41 (ddr-densho-1000-153-41)
vh Roy H. Matsumoto Interview Segment 41 (ddr-densho-1000-153-41)
Memories of mass removal: traveling to the Santa Anita Assembly Center, becoming head of the "vegetable department" at Santa Anita

Although Mr. Matsumoto does not identify himself as a Kibei (American-born person of Japanese ancestry sent to Japan for formal education and socialization when young and later returned to the U.S.), some of his life ...

Roy H. Matsumoto Interview Segment 44 (ddr-densho-1000-153-44)
vh Roy H. Matsumoto Interview Segment 44 (ddr-densho-1000-153-44)
Keeping busy to pass the time in assembly center, trying not to feel too angry

Although Mr. Matsumoto does not identify himself as a Kibei (American-born person of Japanese ancestry sent to Japan for formal education and socialization when young and later returned to the U.S.), some of his life experiences are similar to those ...

Robert Mizukami Interview Segment 10 (ddr-densho-1000-114-10)
vh Robert Mizukami Interview Segment 10 (ddr-densho-1000-114-10)
Forced into "Camp Harmony," Puyallup Assembly Center, Washington

This is the first in a series of interviews conducted by the Puyallup Valley Japanese American Citizen League in collaboration with Densho.

Hideo Hoshide Interview I Segment 43 (ddr-densho-1000-184-43)
vh Hideo Hoshide Interview I Segment 43 (ddr-densho-1000-184-43)
Dealing with difficult living conditions in Pinedale: no privacy, incredible heat, shared facilities
Shosuke Sasaki Segment 14 (ddr-densho-1000-78-14)
vh Shosuke Sasaki Segment 14 (ddr-densho-1000-78-14)
Memories of Puyallup Assembly Center: a "sea of mud" and a sobbing woman
Mitsu Fukui Interview Segment 22 (ddr-densho-1000-140-22)
vh Mitsu Fukui Interview Segment 22 (ddr-densho-1000-140-22)
Feelings about dealing with hardships in the assembly center: "I thought that was really cruel. Being a citizen and to be put into a place like that."
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