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 (27)
Concentration camps (128)
Living conditions (687)

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

687 items
Sam H. Ono Interview Segment 12 (ddr-densho-1003-2-12)
vh Sam H. Ono Interview Segment 12 (ddr-densho-1003-2-12)
First arriving in Manzanar; having to share barracks with another family

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 ...

Jessie Hatsue Akiyama Okazaki Harry Interview Segment 9 (ddr-one-7-59-9)
vh Jessie Hatsue Akiyama Okazaki Harry Interview Segment 9 (ddr-one-7-59-9)
First seeing Minidoka: "Is this where I'm going to be for the rest of my life?"

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 ...

Japanese Americans washing dishes (ddr-densho-15-74)
img Japanese Americans washing dishes (ddr-densho-15-74)
Issei washing dishes inside the camp's warehouse kitchen.
Japanese Americans standing in line for soap (ddr-densho-151-34)
img Japanese Americans standing in line for soap (ddr-densho-151-34)
Original WRA caption: Manzanar Relocation Center, Manzanar, California. Evacuees of Japanese ancestry at this War Relocation Authority center line up at Warehouse Number 26 for their allotment of soap. Four bars of soap are distributed to each apartment on designated days. One representative of each apartment room must appear presenting his identification tag.
Concentration camp firebreak (ddr-densho-151-68)
img Concentration camp firebreak (ddr-densho-151-68)
Original WRA caption: Manzanar Relocation Center, Manzanar, California. General view of this War Relocation Authority center located in Owens Valley looking east across the wide fire-break which separates blocks of barracks.
Manzanar concentration camp, California (ddr-densho-151-64)
img Manzanar concentration camp, California (ddr-densho-151-64)
Original WRA caption: Manzanar Relocation Center, Manzanar, California. View of the Manzanar Relocation Center showing the buildings (right) where camouflage nets are made.
Letter to two Nisei brothers from their sister (ddr-densho-153-101)
doc Letter to two Nisei brothers from their sister (ddr-densho-153-101)
Excerpt: "Sorry I did not write to you but so many things have happened to keep me to be a very busy gal." Sent from Manzanar concentration camp, California, to Chicago, Illinois.
Letter to a Nisei man from his sister (ddr-densho-153-84)
doc Letter to a Nisei man from his sister (ddr-densho-153-84)
Excerpt: "Thank you for the letters that are coming in so frequently." Sent from Manzanar concentration camp, California, to Chicago, Illinois.
Letter to a Nisei man from his sister (ddr-densho-153-30)
doc Letter to a Nisei man from his sister (ddr-densho-153-30)
Excerpt: "I hope you got my last letter that I wrote on saturday & also had sent on saturday." Sent from Manzanar concentration camp, California, to Chicago, Illinois.
Letter to a Nisei man from his sister (ddr-densho-153-51)
doc Letter to a Nisei man from his sister (ddr-densho-153-51)
Excerpt: "Heres hoping to find you getting well from the intestinal flu." Sent from Manzanar concentration camp, California, to Chicago, Illinois.
Letter to a Nisei man from his brother (ddr-densho-153-32)
doc Letter to a Nisei man from his brother (ddr-densho-153-32)
Excerpt: "Well, here it is friday, my usual day writing to you." Sent from Manzanar concentration camp, California, to Chicago, Illinois.
Letter to a Nisei man from his sister (ddr-densho-153-85)
doc Letter to a Nisei man from his sister (ddr-densho-153-85)
Excerpt: "Trying to study with the P.A. going on its terrible so I have to wait until he finishes." Sent from Manzanar concentration camp, California, to Chicago, Illinois.
Letter to two Nisei brothers from their mother (ddr-densho-153-103)
doc Letter to two Nisei brothers from their mother (ddr-densho-153-103)
Excerpt: "I received Towru's present at few days ago." Sent from Manzanar concentration camp, California, to Chicago, Illinois.
Letter to a Nisei man from his sister (ddr-densho-153-81)
doc Letter to a Nisei man from his sister (ddr-densho-153-81)
Excerpt: "Thank you for the letters that are coming in continually." Sent from Manzanar concentration camp, California, to Chicago, Illinois.
Letter to a Nisei man from his brother (ddr-densho-153-28)
doc Letter to a Nisei man from his brother (ddr-densho-153-28)
Excerpt: "Being a very poor correspondent, it has taken all this time to write you again." Sent from Manzanar concentration camp, California, to Chicago, Illinois.
doc "Minidoka: Preliminary Report in a New Frontier Community" (ddr-densho-155-18)
Full title: "Minidoka: Preliminary Report in a New Frontier Community. Administrators, Colonists Strive to Solve Immediate Problems of Dust, Crowded Barracks. The Faces of Minidoka Reflect the Determination of Its Residents to Meet the Challenge of Arid Sageland, Wind and Sun on the Idaho Desert"
The Newell Star, Vol. I, No. 29 (September 14, 1944) (ddr-densho-284-35)
doc The Newell Star, Vol. I, No. 29 (September 14, 1944) (ddr-densho-284-35)
Selected article titles: "8000 Attend Undokai; Ward VIII Wins Title" (pp. 1, 6), "First Escheat Action Filed in Orange County" (p. 1), and "WRA Policy on Eye Glass Indemnity Given" (p. 1).
The Newell Star, Vol. I, No. 38 (November 16, 1944) (ddr-densho-284-40)
doc The Newell Star, Vol. I, No. 38 (November 16, 1944) (ddr-densho-284-40)
Selected article titles: "Renunciation Bill: Initial Procedures Clarified by Legal Aid" (p. 1), "2 Fires Result from Overheated Coal Stoves" (p. 2), and "Evacuee Property Office: Real Estate Problems Aired for Evacuees" (pp. 2, 4).
Co-Op News, Vol I. No. 13 (August 26, 1943) (ddr-densho-288-11)
doc Co-Op News, Vol I. No. 13 (August 26, 1943) (ddr-densho-288-11)
Selected article titles: "Uchida Leaves Co-Op Chairman of the Board" (p. 1), "Announcements" (p. 1), "To the Members" (p. 1).
Co-Op News, Vol I. No. 8 (July 22, 1943) (ddr-densho-288-6)
doc Co-Op News, Vol I. No. 8 (July 22, 1943) (ddr-densho-288-6)
Selected article titles: "Equity Certificates For First Quarter to be Distributed Soon" (p. 1), "Construction on Ice House Started Tuesday" (p. 1), "Picture Taking Resumed" (p. 1).
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