Living conditions

All of the camps were constructed according to the War Department's specifications, which included barbed-wire fences, guard towers, and armed guards around the perimeter. The camps were organized in "blocks" consisting of twelve to fourteen barracks, a mess hall, communal showers and toilets, laundry facilities, and a recreation hall. Each barracks was divided into four or six rooms with each room housing one family, no matter how large, and there was no running water. The furnishings that Japanese Americans found on their arrival were canvas cots, a potbellied stove, and a single bare light bulb. The thin walls offered little protection from the harsh weather, which ranged from 110 degrees in the summer to 25 degrees below zero on winter nights. The flimsy construction allowed no privacy and made normal family life difficult. Camp inmates improved their own living conditions by creating interior walls and partitions, constructing furniture from scrap lumber, and planting gardens.

World War II (13)
Concentration camps (117)
Living conditions (677)

Related articles from the Densho Encyclopedia :
Arts and crafts in camp, Community analysts, Manzanar Children's Village

677 items
Aiko Herzig Interview Segment 14 (ddr-densho-1002-8-14)
vh Aiko Herzig Interview Segment 14 (ddr-densho-1002-8-14)
Difficulties experienced in the day-to-day living conditions in camp

This interview was conducted by sisters Emiko and Chizuko Omori for their 1999 documentary, Rabbit in the Moon, about the Japanese American resisters of conscience in the World War II incarceration camps. As a result, the interviews in this collection are typically not life histories, instead primarily ...

Aiko Herzig Interview Segment 11 (ddr-densho-1002-8-11)
vh Aiko Herzig Interview Segment 11 (ddr-densho-1002-8-11)
Memories of caring for a child in camp: washing diapers in an ill-equipped communal laundry room

This interview was conducted by sisters Emiko and Chizuko Omori for their 1999 documentary, Rabbit in the Moon, about the Japanese American resisters of conscience in the World War II incarceration camps. As a result, the interviews in this collection ...

Nori Masuda Interview Segment 17 (ddr-densho-1010-10-17)
vh Nori Masuda Interview Segment 17 (ddr-densho-1010-10-17)
Coping with living conditions 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.

Shig Yabu Interview Segment 9 (ddr-densho-1011-10-9)
vh Shig Yabu Interview Segment 9 (ddr-densho-1011-10-9)
Description of camp facilities: churches, library

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.

Chizuko Iyama - Ernie Iyama Interview Segment 7 (ddr-densho-1012-5-7)
vh Chizuko Iyama - Ernie Iyama Interview Segment 7 (ddr-densho-1012-5-7)
Passing time in camp, making furniture out of scrap lumber (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 or recommendations ...

Isao Kameshige Interview Segment 10 (ddr-one-7-35-10)
vh Isao Kameshige Interview Segment 10 (ddr-one-7-35-10)
First arriving in Poston

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.

Shizuko
vh Shizuko "Suzie" Sakai Interview Segment 6 (ddr-one-7-4-6)
Living conditions in Heart Mountain

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.

Henry Sakamoto Interview Segment 13 (ddr-one-7-33-13)
vh Henry Sakamoto Interview Segment 13 (ddr-one-7-33-13)
Adapting to living conditions 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.

Tokio Hirotaka - Toshio Ito - Joe Matsuzawa Segment 28 (ddr-densho-1000-23-28)
vh Tokio Hirotaka - Toshio Ito - Joe Matsuzawa Segment 28 (ddr-densho-1000-23-28)
Housing arrangements and divided communities in Tule Lake concentration camp
Shigeko Sese Uno Segment 19 (ddr-densho-1000-98-19)
vh Shigeko Sese Uno Segment 19 (ddr-densho-1000-98-19)
Conditions in Minidoka concentration camp, Idaho, dust everywhere -- turning to mud in winter
Tomio Moriguchi Interview I Segment 7 (ddr-densho-1000-59-7)
vh Tomio Moriguchi Interview I Segment 7 (ddr-densho-1000-59-7)
Mother copes with raising several children in camp, including newborns
Japanese Americans making furniture (ddr-densho-15-65)
img Japanese Americans making furniture (ddr-densho-15-65)
The barracks apartments that housed Japanese Americans contained cots and a coal-burning stove, but no other furniture. Camp inmates often made their own furniture and other accessories from scrap lumber.
Two Japanese Americans inside barracks (ddr-densho-15-60)
img Two Japanese Americans inside barracks (ddr-densho-15-60)
Mrs. Shioshi (left) and Mrs. Odoi inside camp barracks. Both had sons in the military.
Laundry room (ddr-densho-15-71)
img Laundry room (ddr-densho-15-71)
The Minidoka concentration camp was divided into thirty-six blocks, each with its own communal laundry facility, like the one shown here.
API