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 (278)

278 items
Letter to Molly Wilson from Chiyeko Akahoshi (April 28, 1942) (ddr-janm-1-100)
doc Letter to Molly Wilson from Chiyeko Akahoshi (April 28, 1942) (ddr-janm-1-100)
Handwritten letter to Molly Wilson from Chiyeko Akahoshi (April 28, 1942) from the Owens Valley Assembly Center in Manzanar, California.
Letter from Ishi Morishita to Mrs. Charles Gates (ddr-densho-211-5)
doc Letter from Ishi Morishita to Mrs. Charles Gates (ddr-densho-211-5)
Letter explaining the sudden relocation of the Masuda family to Poston, Arizona. Four stamps that match the ones on letters from the Morishitas.
Mother and children outside of barracks (ddr-densho-151-258)
img Mother and children outside of barracks (ddr-densho-151-258)
Original caption: Stockton, California. This family of Japanese ancestry has just arrived in the center this morning. The mother and the children are waiting at the door of the room in the barracks to which they have been assigned. The father is at the baggage depot where their bedding and clothing are unloaded and inspected for ...
View of barracks (ddr-densho-151-346)
img View of barracks (ddr-densho-151-346)
Original caption: San Bruno, California. Shown here is one type of barracks for family use. These were formerly the stalls for race horses. Each family is assigned to two small rooms, the inner one with no outside door nor window. The center has been in operation for about six weeks. 8,000 evacuees are now assembled here.
View of Stockton Assembly Center (ddr-densho-151-7)
img View of Stockton Assembly Center (ddr-densho-151-7)
Original WRA caption: Stockton, California. Part of the Stockton Assembly center as seen at noon on a hot day. This center has been open to evacuees of Japanese ancestry for one week.
Japanese Americans in mess hall line (ddr-densho-151-44)
img Japanese Americans in mess hall line (ddr-densho-151-44)
Original WRA caption: San Bruno, California. View of the Tanforan Assembly Center, showing a type of barrack peculiar to the center. Also shown in part of a line-up of evacuees waiting for places in the mess hall for their noon meal.
Nisei inside barracks (ddr-densho-151-276)
img Nisei inside barracks (ddr-densho-151-276)
Original caption: Sacramento, California. Harvey Akio Itano, 21, 1942 graduate from the University of California where he received his Bachelor of Science [in] Chemistry degree. He was chosen by the faculty as University Medalist for 1942 and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi. Mr. Itano went to the Assembly center prior to ...
Assembly center barracks (ddr-densho-151-19)
img Assembly center barracks (ddr-densho-151-19)
Original WRA caption: Tanforan Assembly center, San Bruno, California. Barracks for family living quarters. Each door enters into a family unit of two small rooms. Tanforan assembly center was opened two days before the photograph was made. On the first day there had been a heavy rain. When a family has arrived here, first step of ...
Woman and children outside barracks (ddr-densho-151-73)
img Woman and children outside barracks (ddr-densho-151-73)
Original WRA caption: Stockton, California. This family just arrived in the Stockton center this morning. The mother and the children wait at the door of the room in the barracks to which they have been assigned, while the father is at the baggage depot where the bedding and clothing are being unloaded and inspected for contraband.
Assembly center new arrivals (ddr-densho-151-4)
img Assembly center new arrivals (ddr-densho-151-4)
Original WRA caption: Stockton, California. Noon on a hot day at the Stockton Assembly center, which is a converted fairgrounds. This group of people on the race track are new arrivals who have been registered, inspected, medically examined, and are now on their way to their assigned places in the barracks.
View of barracks and mess hall (ddr-densho-151-345)
img View of barracks and mess hall (ddr-densho-151-345)
Original caption: San Bruno, California. Another view of barracks at the Tanforan Assembly center, after approximately six weeks of occupancy. The building on the right is one of the eighteen such mess halls which, together, accommodate approximately 8,000 persons for three meals each day.
Puyallup Assembly Center (ddr-densho-36-43)
img Puyallup Assembly Center (ddr-densho-36-43)
The Puyallup Assembly Center, also known as "Camp Harmony," was on the racetrack of the Puyallup fairgrounds. The center was open from April 28, 1942, through September 23, 1942. Most camp inmates came from Seattle, Washington. This is a view of the barracks that housed them.
Japanese American inside barracks (ddr-densho-37-485)
img Japanese American inside barracks (ddr-densho-37-485)
Original WRA caption: Salinas Assembly Center, Salinas, California. Barracks interior at assembly center where persons of Japanese ancestry lived temporarily after evacuation from the west coast in the spring of 1942.
Japanese Americans meet in an assembly center (ddr-densho-37-583)
img Japanese Americans meet in an assembly center (ddr-densho-37-583)
Original WRA caption: Salinas, California. Members of two evacuee families of Japanese ancestry meet at this assembly center located on the Salinas Rodeo grounds. These people will be transferred later to a War Relocation Authority center.
Information Bulletin No. 1 (ddr-densho-320-1)
doc Information Bulletin No. 1 (ddr-densho-320-1)
Contains information about living quarters, meals, and other services in the camps.
Information Bulletin No. 1 (ddr-densho-320-2)
doc Information Bulletin No. 1 (ddr-densho-320-2)
Contains information about living quarters, meals, and other services in the camps.
Bob Fuchigami Interview Segment 15 (ddr-manz-1-28-15)
vh Bob Fuchigami Interview Segment 15 (ddr-manz-1-28-15)
Adjusting to confinement as a child: contemplating sneaking out of camp
Taylor Tomita Interview Segment 11 (ddr-one-7-61-11)
vh Taylor Tomita Interview Segment 11 (ddr-one-7-61-11)
Living conditions at the Pinedale 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.

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