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
Child standing between barracks (ddr-densho-37-777)
img Child standing between barracks (ddr-densho-37-777)
Original WRA caption: Granada Relocation Center, Amache, Colorado. It is a long time between meals at the mess hall for a hungry man, so the cracker box at the Kobayashi barracks gets a frequent raiding.
Japanese sandals (ddr-densho-37-816)
img Japanese sandals (ddr-densho-37-816)
Original WRA caption: Manzanar Relocation Center, Manzanar, California. Close-up of geta, stilt-like sandals, which are especially useful in dust. These are made by evacuee craftsmen in this War Relocation Authority center.
Heart Mountain concentration camp, Wyoming (ddr-densho-37-795)
img Heart Mountain concentration camp, Wyoming (ddr-densho-37-795)
Original WRA caption: Heart Mountain Relocation Center, Heart Mountain, Wyoming. "Symbolic Heart Mountain towers at the end of "F" Street, the main thoroughfare of the Heart Mountain Relocation Center."
Muddy conditions (ddr-densho-37-349)
img Muddy conditions (ddr-densho-37-349)
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.
Jerome concentration camp (ddr-densho-37-623)
img Jerome concentration camp (ddr-densho-37-623)
Original WRA caption: Closing of the Jerome Relocation Center, Denson, Arkansas. Panorama view of the Jerome Relocation Center.
Children walking between barracks (ddr-densho-39-39)
img Children walking between barracks (ddr-densho-39-39)
Irene Ito, 4, and brother Hiroshi Ito, 1 1/2. (Info from original museum description)
Issei woman collecting coal in camp (ddr-densho-39-29)
img Issei woman collecting coal in camp (ddr-densho-39-29)
The climate at Minidoka was harsh. Each barrack apartment was equipped with a coal-burning heater that resembled a potbelly stove. This camp inmate is gathering coal for her heater.
Issei woman walking to the shower (ddr-densho-39-17)
img Issei woman walking to the shower (ddr-densho-39-17)
Kadju Nishimura on her way to the shower. She is wearing geta (Japanese wooden clogs). Geta kept her feet clean as she walked through the dirt and mud to reach the shower facility.
The Tule Lake WRA Center Information Bulletin (February 22, 1944) (ddr-densho-284-4)
doc The Tule Lake WRA Center Information Bulletin (February 22, 1944) (ddr-densho-284-4)
Selected article titles: "Gov't to Continue Efforts to Reunite Those Interned" (p. 1) and "Welcome, Manzanites!" (p. 2).