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.

Living conditions (713)

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

713 items
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.
Muddy conditions (ddr-densho-37-350)
img Muddy conditions (ddr-densho-37-350)
Original WRA caption: Tule Lake Relocation Center, Newell, California. Thaws turn the streets and firebreaks into seas of mud, and makes difficult motor transportation through the center.
Japanese American children in a victory garden (ddr-densho-37-781)
img Japanese American children in a victory garden (ddr-densho-37-781)
Original WRA caption: Granada Relocation Center, Amache, Colorado. Fourth grade children weeding their victory garden.
Children walking in an concentration camp (ddr-densho-37-802)
img Children walking in an concentration camp (ddr-densho-37-802)
Original WRA caption: Jerome Relocation Center, Dermott, Arkansas. Young children at Jerome Relocation Center.
View of barracks (ddr-densho-37-171)
img View of barracks (ddr-densho-37-171)
Original WRA caption: View of barracks looking east down the main fire break.
Japanese Americans in front of remodeled barrack (ddr-densho-37-51)
img Japanese Americans in front of remodeled barrack (ddr-densho-37-51)
Japanese Americans tried to make camp life more tolerable in many creative ways, such as renovating their barracks.
Japanese American workers waiting in line (ddr-densho-37-421)
img Japanese American workers waiting in line (ddr-densho-37-421)
Original WRA caption: Tule Lake Relocation Center, Newell, California. A line up of evacuee workers waiting for their identification tags which are to be used in conjunction with the first pay day at this War Relocation Authority Center.
Vacant barracks (ddr-densho-37-827)
img Vacant barracks (ddr-densho-37-827)
Original WRA caption: Poston, Arizona. Some of the "blocks" which were vacated earlier, are already dropping to pieces as shown here. The barracks were of cheap construction, rough lumber, and tar paper and few people thought that they would be occupied for three years. Units II and III of the Colorado River Relocation center, Poston, Arizona ...
Topaz concentration camp, Utah (ddr-densho-37-833)
img Topaz concentration camp, Utah (ddr-densho-37-833)
Original WRA caption: Topaz, Utah. A typical barracks group with a section of the Topaz Relocation Center.
Japanese Americans filling straw mattresses (ddr-densho-37-403)
img Japanese Americans filling straw mattresses (ddr-densho-37-403)
Original WRA caption: Poston, Arizona. Evacuees of Japanese ancestry are filling straw ticks for mattresses upon arrival at this war Relocation Authority Center.
Two young children in camp (ddr-densho-39-44)
img Two young children in camp (ddr-densho-39-44)
Irene (left) and Hiroshi Ito walking near the laundry in Block 44.
Concentration camp street scene (ddr-densho-93-24)
img Concentration camp street scene (ddr-densho-93-24)
Original Ansel Adams caption: Manzanar street scene, clouds, Manzanar Relocation Center, California / photograph by Ansel Adams.
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).
Winter concentration camp street scene (ddr-densho-93-23)
img Winter concentration camp street scene (ddr-densho-93-23)
Original Ansel Adams caption: Manzanar street scene, winter, Manzanar Relocation Center / photograph by Ansel Adams.
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).
Co-Op News, Vol II. No. 4 (September 16, 1943) (ddr-densho-288-14)
doc Co-Op News, Vol II. No. 4 (September 16, 1943) (ddr-densho-288-14)
Selected article titles: "24 Co-Op Workers to Transfer to Tule Lake" (p. 1), "Operating Statement for July Released" (p. 1), "Photo Studio to Close, Move to 2-12-EF" (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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