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 (34)
Concentration camps (166)
Living conditions (697)

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

697 items
Matsue Watanabe Interview Segment 8 (ddr-densho-1001-9-8)
vh Matsue Watanabe Interview Segment 8 (ddr-densho-1001-9-8)
First memories of camp: poor food, living quarters, no privacy
Hisaye Yamamoto Interview Segment 10 (ddr-densho-1002-10-10)
vh Hisaye Yamamoto Interview Segment 10 (ddr-densho-1002-10-10)
Feelings of camp residents: discouragement, bitterness, but also memories of fun activities

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 ...

Hisaye Yamamoto Interview Segment 7 (ddr-densho-1002-10-7)
vh Hisaye Yamamoto Interview Segment 7 (ddr-densho-1002-10-7)
Recollections of Poston concentration camp, Arizona: heat, sand, and bad food

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 ...

Mas Okui Interview Segment 14 (ddr-densho-1003-13-14)
vh Mas Okui Interview Segment 14 (ddr-densho-1003-13-14)
Coping with the 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 ...

Eiichi Edward Sakauye Interview I Segment 1 (ddr-densho-1005-1-1)
vh Eiichi Edward Sakauye Interview I Segment 1 (ddr-densho-1005-1-1)
Snowy conditions in camp

Eiichi Edward Sakauye shot footage of the Heart Mountain concentration camp, Wyoming, from 1943-1945, on 8 mm film. This interview is of Mr. Sakauye providing voice-over descriptions for his original footage.

Donald Yamamoto Interview Segment 4 (ddr-densho-1011-2-4)
vh Donald Yamamoto Interview Segment 4 (ddr-densho-1011-2-4)
Living conditions in camp and being caught out of bounds

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 ...

Shig Yabu Interview Segment 6 (ddr-densho-1011-10-6)
vh Shig Yabu Interview Segment 6 (ddr-densho-1011-10-6)
Adjusting 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.

Fred Oda Interview Segment 19 (ddr-densho-1015-9-19)
vh Fred Oda Interview Segment 19 (ddr-densho-1015-9-19)
Moving to the Poston concentration camp; coping with difficult conditions
Stockade wood-burning stove (ddr-densho-11-8)
img Stockade wood-burning stove (ddr-densho-11-8)
In 1943, Tule Lake concentration camp became a segregation center. A stockade was built to detain those who were considered security risks by the WRA. This wood-burning stove was used to help heat the stockade.
Jim Tsujimura Interview Segment 3 (ddr-one-7-23-3)
vh Jim Tsujimura Interview Segment 3 (ddr-one-7-23-3)
Living conditions in Minidoka

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.

George Nakata Interview Segment 15 (ddr-one-7-29-15)
vh George Nakata Interview Segment 15 (ddr-one-7-29-15)
Moving to the Minidoka concentration camp, Idaho

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.

Bill Nishimura Interview Segment 5 (ddr-densho-1000-119-5)
vh Bill Nishimura Interview Segment 5 (ddr-densho-1000-119-5)
Daily activities at Poston concentration camp, Arizona

This interview took place at the 2000 Tule Lake Pilgrimage in Klamath Falls, Oregon.

Marion Tsutakawa Kanemoto Interview Segment 24 (ddr-densho-1000-148-24)
vh Marion Tsutakawa Kanemoto Interview Segment 24 (ddr-densho-1000-148-24)
Moving to the Minidoka concentration camp, Idaho: MPs with guns, crowded conditions, dust
Sue K. Embrey Segment 1 (ddr-densho-1000-6-1)
vh Sue K. Embrey Segment 1 (ddr-densho-1000-6-1)
First impressions upon arrival at Manzanar concentration camp

This interview was conducted at the Voices of Japanese American Redress Conference, held on the UCLA campus and sponsored by the UCLA Asian American Studies Center and the UCLA School of Public Policy and Social Research. Because of the full conference schedule, our interviews were limited to one ...

Yasu Koyamatsu Momii Interview Segment 18 (ddr-densho-1000-374-18)
vh Yasu Koyamatsu Momii Interview Segment 18 (ddr-densho-1000-374-18)
Coping with camp conditions: hot weather, lack of privacy

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 ...

Letter to a Nisei man from his brother (ddr-densho-153-39)
doc Letter to a Nisei man from his brother (ddr-densho-153-39)
Excerpt: "Received the soldering iron and solder today." Sent from Manzanar concentration camp, California, to Chicago, Illinois.
Letter to two Nisei brothers from their sister (ddr-densho-153-102)
doc Letter to two Nisei brothers from their sister (ddr-densho-153-102)
Excerpt: "Sorry I haven't been writing to you but I really was busy." Sent from Manzanar concentration camp, California, to Chicago, Illinois.
Letter to two Nisei brothers from their sister (ddr-densho-153-98)
doc Letter to two Nisei brothers from their sister (ddr-densho-153-98)
Excerpt: "Thank you for the letters." Sent from Manzanar concentration camp, California, to Chicago, Illinois.
Letter to two Nisei brothers from their sister (ddr-densho-153-95)
doc Letter to two Nisei brothers from their sister (ddr-densho-153-95)
Excerpt: "The days are gradually changing more & more." Sent from Manzanar concentration camp, California, to Chicago, Illinois.
Letter to two Nisei brothers from their sister (ddr-densho-153-117)
doc Letter to two Nisei brothers from their sister (ddr-densho-153-117)
Excerpt: "Yes, yes, yes, a picture of a professor with glasses came." Sent from Manzanar concentration camp, California, to Chicago, Illinois.
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