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 (705)

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

705 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 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 ...
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.
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.
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 ...

George Hanada Interview Segment 6 (ddr-jamsj-2-5-6)
vh George Hanada Interview Segment 6 (ddr-jamsj-2-5-6)
Memories of concentration camp: desolation, break-up of family structure

This interview was conducted by the Japanese American Museum of San Jose, and is part of a project entitled "Lasting Stories: The Resettlement of San Jose Japantown," a collaborative project between the Japanese American Museum of San Jose and Densho.

Letter (with envelope) to Mollie Wilson from Lillian (Nobie) Igasaki (March 31, 1944) (ddr-janm-1-51)
doc Letter (with envelope) to Mollie Wilson from Lillian (Nobie) Igasaki (March 31, 1944) (ddr-janm-1-51)
Handwritten letter to Molly Wilson from Lillian (Nobie) Igasaki (March 31, 1944). Envelope is postmarked April 1, 1944 from the Manzanar Incarceration Camp in Manzanar, California.
Heart Mountain (ddr-hmwf-1-202)
img Heart Mountain (ddr-hmwf-1-202)
"Ht. Mtn. between blocks 29 and 25, Feb 6 1944" as described on back, f16 1/50 K2 SuperIkontaB SuperXX roll, "faulty developing, roll started from centerl of spool, developer probably did not circulate well enough in center of tank"
Ice Skating (ddr-hmwf-1-478)
img Ice Skating (ddr-hmwf-1-478)
Men, women, and children ice skating with barracks in background
Collecting coal (ddr-hmwf-1-75)
img Collecting coal (ddr-hmwf-1-75)
"Men and women collecting coal between barracks" Jan 11, 1944
Family Portrait (ddr-hmwf-1-551)
img Family Portrait (ddr-hmwf-1-551)
Nellie Yamamoto, Arthur Yamamoto, 29-3-D, Jan 12 1945, Flash f8 1/100 PlusX, family portrait in barracks room, Arthur in military uniform
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