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 (939)

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

932 items
Former California mechanic Chester Ishii repairing piece of farm machinery at Rohwer incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-25)
img Former California mechanic Chester Ishii repairing piece of farm machinery at Rohwer incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-25)
Former California mechanic Chester Ishii repairing piece of farm machinery at Rohwer incarceration camp. March 10, 1943. Photo by Tom Parker. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: HMLSC_TOMO_025
Incarcerees watching outdoor musical performance at Manzanar incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-20)
img Incarcerees watching outdoor musical performance at Manzanar incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-20)
Incarcerees watching outdoor musical performance at Manzanar incarceration camp. June 5, 1942. Photo by Francis Stewart. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: HMLSC_TOMO_020
Sixth grade boys playing softball during recess at Manzanar incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-19)
img Sixth grade boys playing softball during recess at Manzanar incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-19)
Sixth grade boys playing softball during recess at Manzanar incarceration camp. February 10, 1943. Photo by Francis Stewart. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: HMLSC_TOMO_019
Evacuation and resettlement study, structural report, section II: the first six months at Tule Lake: social changes and a chronology of events (ddr-csujad-26-4)
doc Evacuation and resettlement study, structural report, section II: the first six months at Tule Lake: social changes and a chronology of events (ddr-csujad-26-4)
Report chronicling the first six months Tule Lake camp including the establishment of community activities, employment, schools, and barracks infrastructure. Describes challenges of adjusting to life in camp often using direct quotations from incarcerees to express struggles amid social and cultural groups as well as conflicts and strikes. Several events are also described including a description ...
Large group photo (ddr-csujad-26-143)
img Large group photo (ddr-csujad-26-143)
Photo of a large group of Japanese Americans and Caucasian men and women pose in front of a barracks building with a baby and a dog. From photo album of Robert Billigmeier. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: mei_05_116
Tule Lake recreation center community affairs report for the period August 20, 1942 to September 20, 1942 (ddr-csujad-26-11)
doc Tule Lake recreation center community affairs report for the period August 20, 1942 to September 20, 1942 (ddr-csujad-26-11)
Summary of community youth recreation activities at Tule Lake before school began including descriptions of administration, leadership and training, the "Community Activities Commission," advisory board, planning board, staff, organization, and activities. Report compiled as a portion of the Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Study (JERS). See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization ...
Barracks row (ddr-csujad-26-86)
img Barracks row (ddr-csujad-26-86)
A man walks toward a row of barracks lining a dusty road. From photo album of Robert Billigmeier. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: mei_05_023
At Heart Mountain (ddr-densho-252-136)
img At Heart Mountain (ddr-densho-252-136)
(Left to right) Unknown, Tsumoru Okura. Caption on Post-it: "Tsumoru Okura & wife at Heart Mountain, October 1944 (bro. of Masaji Okura)."
Issei couple sitting on barracks porch (ddr-densho-24-20)
img Issei couple sitting on barracks porch (ddr-densho-24-20)
Sawano (left), and Bunshiro Tazuma in front of their barrack. The Tazumas were originally from Seattle, Washington, and owned the Tazuma Ten-Cent Store on Jackson Street before World War II.
Three children behind barracks (ddr-densho-34-118)
img Three children behind barracks (ddr-densho-34-118)
Left to right: Frank, Lilly, and Jane Kitamoto behind their barracks at the Minidoka concentration camp.
Mother and her children in front of their barracks (ddr-densho-34-111)
img Mother and her children in front of their barracks (ddr-densho-34-111)
Shigeko Kitamoto and her children (left to right): Frances, Jane, Frank, and Lilly Kitamoto.
View between barracks (ddr-densho-37-747)
img View between barracks (ddr-densho-37-747)
Original WRA caption: Looking down the rows of barracks westward from block 44. At extreme left is a corner of the dining hall where 275 to 300 residents of the block eat. At center background is the sanitization building including showers, lavatories, toilets, and washtubs. Nearly all the residents planted flowers and vegetable gardens in front ...
Japanese American resting in a barrack (ddr-densho-37-412)
img Japanese American resting in a barrack (ddr-densho-37-412)
Original WRA caption: Manzanar Relocation Center, Manzanar, California. An evacuee resting on his cot after moving his belongins into this bare barracks room. An army cot and mattress are the only things furnished by the government. All personal belongings were brought by the evacuees.
View between barracks (ddr-densho-37-782)
img View between barracks (ddr-densho-37-782)
Original WRA caption: Granada Relocation Center, Amache, Colorado. Evacuee barracks showing gardens and trees.
Japanese American walking in the rain (ddr-densho-37-617)
img Japanese American walking in the rain (ddr-densho-37-617)
Original WRA caption: Jerome Relocation Center, Denson, Arkansas. The Arkansas rainy season, and this young resident of the Jerome Center dons rubber boots and carries a parasol. The (buckshot) mud makes the tirp to and from school a little dificult.
Row of barracks (ddr-densho-37-79)
img Row of barracks (ddr-densho-37-79)
Original WRA caption: Tule Lake Relocation Center, Newell, California. A view down one of the streets of the relocation center, showing the artistic way in which the evacuees decorate the exterior of their barracks to make them more homelike.
Japanese Americans filling straw mattresses (ddr-densho-37-404)
img Japanese Americans filling straw mattresses (ddr-densho-37-404)
Original WRA caption: Poston, Arizona. Filling straw ticks for mattresses at Colorado River Relocation center for evacuees of Japanese ancestry.
Japanese American children in the rain (ddr-densho-37-628)
img Japanese American children in the rain (ddr-densho-37-628)
Original WRA caption: Jerome Relocation Center, Denson, Arkansas. One umbrella wasn't enough for these lads of Japanese ancestry, who formerly lived in west coast areas. The rainy season, in Arkansas, makes the relocation center one vast guagmire.
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