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
George Morihiro Interview Segment 18 (ddr-densho-1000-182-18)
vh George Morihiro Interview Segment 18 (ddr-densho-1000-182-18)
Life in Puyallup Assembly Center: talking with the guards, being warned away from the fence
Lillie McCabe (ddr-csujad-29-19)
img Lillie McCabe (ddr-csujad-29-19)
Photo of Lillie McCabe. Oral history audio and transcript are found in csufccop_jaoh_0030, csufccop_jaoh_0031, and csufccop_jaoh_0032. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: 1949_P03
Oral history of Morris and Cherry Abe (ddr-csujad-28-3)
av Oral history of Morris and Cherry Abe (ddr-csujad-28-3)
Oral history Interview of Morris and Cherry Abe. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: csuci_vcc-jic_0005
Dr. George Suda (ddr-csujad-8-65)
doc Dr. George Suda (ddr-csujad-8-65)
Oral history interview with Dr. George Suda. Information on the oral history project is found in: csuf_stp_0012A; Glossary in: csuf_stp_0014. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: FCPL Suda, Dr George
Letter from June Harino to Rev. Miller, 1942 June 9 (ddr-csujad-20-20)
doc Letter from June Harino to Rev. Miller, 1942 June 9 (ddr-csujad-20-20)
A letter sent to Mr. Wendell L. Miller. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: WLM_01-46_20
Letter from T. Takahashi and Family to Rev. Wendell L. Miller, May 14, 1942 (ddr-csujad-20-5)
doc Letter from T. Takahashi and Family to Rev. Wendell L. Miller, May 14, 1942 (ddr-csujad-20-5)
Personal letter written from the Santa Anita Assembly Center; thanks Miller for his "kind treatment and wonderful assistance in our evacuation" and mentions that his or her mother is now recovering with them after suffering from worry and tiredness. Takahashi states that their life was previously too materialistic, and that this is a "God-given opportunity ... to ...
Comic Strip, 1943 December 26 (ddr-csujad-20-12)
av Comic Strip, 1943 December 26 (ddr-csujad-20-12)
Clipped comic strip of "Little Joe." See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: WLM_01-45_02
Letter from L.W., circa 1942 (ddr-csujad-20-25)
doc Letter from L.W., circa 1942 (ddr-csujad-20-25)
A letter from L.W. Addressee is not known. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: WLM_01-44_04
Japanese American receiving lunch (ddr-densho-36-42)
img Japanese American receiving lunch (ddr-densho-36-42)
The assembly center was composed of blocks, each with its own kitchen and dining area.
Arrival at the Puyallup Assembly Center (ddr-densho-36-32)
img Arrival at the Puyallup Assembly Center (ddr-densho-36-32)
The Puyallup Assembly Center, which many camp inmates called "Camp Harmony," was on the site of the annual Western Washington Fair. The center was constructed in only seventeen days. Barracks were erected in converted livestock stalls near the parking lots and under the grandstand. Japanese Americans remained at the fairgrounds from April 28 to September 23 ...
Heart Mountain concentration camp, Wyoming (ddr-densho-37-796)
img Heart Mountain concentration camp, Wyoming (ddr-densho-37-796)
Original WRA caption: Heart Mountain Relocation Center, Heart Mountain, Wyoming. Looking west over the Heart Mountain Relocation Center with its sentry name sake, Heart Mountain, on the horizon.
Salinas Assembly Center (ddr-densho-37-576)
img Salinas Assembly Center (ddr-densho-37-576)
Original WRA caption: Salinas Assembly Center, California. Panorama of Salinas Assembly center. Persons of Japanese ancestry evacuated from coastal areas were held first in assembly centers before being assigned to relocation centers further inland.
Japanese Americans out on a walk (ddr-densho-37-582)
img Japanese Americans out on a walk (ddr-densho-37-582)
Original WRA caption: Salinas, California. Evacuee girls out for a stroll at the Salinas Assembly center.
Barracks interior (ddr-densho-37-578)
img Barracks interior (ddr-densho-37-578)
Original WRA caption: Salinas Assembly Center, Salinas, California. Evacuees of Japanese descent enjoy a moment of relaxation before setting up housekeeping at this assembly center. They will be transferred to War Relocation Authority centers for the duration.
Letter from Kikuye Matsuda to Mrs. Charles Gates (ddr-densho-211-1)
doc Letter from Kikuye Matsuda to Mrs. Charles Gates (ddr-densho-211-1)
Letter from Kikuye Masuda to Mrs. Charles Gates about a house Mrs. Gates is occupying.
Letter to Kinuta Uno at Fort Missoula (ddr-densho-324-17)
doc Letter to Kinuta Uno at Fort Missoula (ddr-densho-324-17)
Correspondence from Kinuta Uno's wife and daughter discussing life at Pinedale Assembly Center.
Information sheet about the Tanforan Racetrack/Detention Center (ddr-janm-4-22)
doc Information sheet about the Tanforan Racetrack/Detention Center (ddr-janm-4-22)
Information sheet about the history of the Tanforan Racetrack/Detention Center.
Newspaper clipping
doc Newspaper clipping "Tanforan Assembly Center Plaque Dedication" (ddr-janm-4-43)
Newspaper clipping titled "Tanforan Assembly Center Plaque Dedication". The article was written by J.K. Yamamoto on September 25, 1991 for the Hokubei Mainichi newspaper.
View of barracks (ddr-densho-151-344)
img View of barracks (ddr-densho-151-344)
Original caption: San Bruno, California. This scene shows 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, of which, has no outside door nor window. The center has been in operation about six weeks and 8,000 persons of ...
Assembly center barracks (ddr-densho-151-74)
img Assembly center barracks (ddr-densho-151-74)
Original WRA caption: Sacramento, California. View of barracks in block 2 during first week of occupancy of this Center. The entire Japanese population of the City of Sacramento are now here. The space under the trees seen in the background is reserved for the use of mothers and young children.
Nisei friends inside barracks (ddr-densho-151-460)
img Nisei friends inside barracks (ddr-densho-151-460)
Original caption: Sacramento, California. Masamichi Suzuki, and Bill Sugiyama, roommates of Harey Itano, at the Assembly center. Both boys have attended the University of California and Mr. Sugiyama was accepted by the University of California Medical School prior to evacuation, but is now unable to attend.
Assembly center new arrivals (ddr-densho-151-6)
img Assembly center new arrivals (ddr-densho-151-6)
Original WRA caption: Stockton, California. Arrival at Assembly center at 12:45 pm. This assembly center has been open for one week. This group was evacuated from their homes in the Lodi district (grape area) this morning. Their identification numbers and family groups are checked by officials as they get off the bus. They are then ...
Sacramento Assembly Center, California (ddr-densho-151-75)
img Sacramento Assembly Center, California (ddr-densho-151-75)
Original WRA caption: Sacramento, California. This Center has been open for about a week. It has a capacity for 5000 persons. The people seen walking across the field toward the barracks are mothers and children of Japanese ancestry who have been in the playground and are coming back to the messhall for lunch.
Baggage inspection (ddr-densho-151-29)
img Baggage inspection (ddr-densho-151-29)
Original WRA caption: Stockton, California. Hand baggage is being inspected for contraband upon the arrival of evacuees of Japanese ancestry to this Assembly Center.
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