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 (714)

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

714 items
Baby (ddr-hmwf-1-302)
img Baby (ddr-hmwf-1-302)
"Tsunenaga, 29-24-AB Aug 21 1944" as described on back, l10 f6.3 1/25 SuperpanPress D76, Kodabromide G3"
Woman and Child (ddr-hmwf-1-522)
img Woman and Child (ddr-hmwf-1-522)
"Ono baby, 29-19-A, Sept 23 1943 4:00 PM" as described on back, l7 f9 1/5sec SuperXX DK20 30min
Letter (with envelope) to Molly Wilson from Mary Murakami (July 27, 1942) (ddr-janm-1-31)
doc Letter (with envelope) to Molly Wilson from Mary Murakami (July 27, 1942) (ddr-janm-1-31)
Handwritten letter to Molly Wilson from Mary Murakami (July 27, 1942). Envelope is postmarked July 27, 1942 from the Poston (Colorado River) Incarceration Camp in Parker, Arizona.
Letter (with envelope) to Molly Wilson from Sandie Saito (November 15, 1942) (ddr-janm-1-13)
doc Letter (with envelope) to Molly Wilson from Sandie Saito (November 15, 1942) (ddr-janm-1-13)
Handwritten letter to Molly Wilson from Sandie Saito (November 15, 1942). Envelope is postmarked November 18, 1942 from the Granada (Amache) Incarceration Camp in Amache, Colorado.
Postcard to Molly Wilson from Mary Murakami (August 1, 1943) (ddr-janm-1-27)
doc Postcard to Molly Wilson from Mary Murakami (August 1, 1943) (ddr-janm-1-27)
Postcard to Molly Wilson from Mary Murakami (August 1, 1943). It is postmarked August 2, 1943 from the Poston (Colorado River) Incarceration Camp in Parker, Arizona.
Letter (with envelope) to Mollie Wilson from Sandie Saito (October 17, 1942) (ddr-janm-1-12)
doc Letter (with envelope) to Mollie Wilson from Sandie Saito (October 17, 1942) (ddr-janm-1-12)
Handwritten letter to Molly Wilson from Sandie Saito (October 17, 1942). Envelope (addressed "Miss 'Flea' Wilson") is postmarked October 17, 1942 from the Granada (Amache) Incarceration Camp in Amache, Colorado.
Letter (with envelope) to Molly Wilson from Chiyeko Akahoshi (July 14, 1944) (ddr-janm-1-113)
doc Letter (with envelope) to Molly Wilson from Chiyeko Akahoshi (July 14, 1944) (ddr-janm-1-113)
Handwritten letter to Molly Wilson from Chiyeko Akahoshi (July 14, 1944). Envelope is postmarked July 19, 1944 from the Manzanar Incarceration Camp in Manzanar, California.
Letter (with envelope) to Mollie Wilson from Sadae (Lillian) Nishioka (July 7, 1942) (ddr-janm-1-97)
doc Letter (with envelope) to Mollie Wilson from Sadae (Lillian) Nishioka (July 7, 1942) (ddr-janm-1-97)
Handwritten letter to Molly Wilson from Sadae (Lillian) Nishioka (July 7, 1942). Envelope is postmarked July 9, 1942 from the Poston (Colorado River) Incarceration Camp in Parker, Arizona.
Letter (with envelope) to Molly Wilson from Chiyeko Akahoshi (May 14, 1944) (ddr-janm-1-111)
doc Letter (with envelope) to Molly Wilson from Chiyeko Akahoshi (May 14, 1944) (ddr-janm-1-111)
Handwritten letter to Molly Wilson from Chiyeko Akahoshi (May 14, 1944). Envelope is postmarked May 15, 1944 from the Manzanar Incarceration Camp in Manzanar, California.
Letter (with envelope) to Molly Wilson from Miyeko Imamura (August 30, 1942) (ddr-janm-1-63)
doc Letter (with envelope) to Molly Wilson from Miyeko Imamura (August 30, 1942) (ddr-janm-1-63)
Handwritten letter to Molly Wilson from Miyeko Imamura (August 30, 1942). Envelope is postmarked August 31, 1942 from the Heart Mountain Incarceration Camp in Cody, Wyoming.
Family inside barracks (ddr-densho-151-416)
img Family inside barracks (ddr-densho-151-416)
Original caption: Manzanar Relocation Center, Manzanar, California. A typical interior scene in one of the barrack apartments at this center. Note the cloth partition which lends a small amount of privacy.
Letter to a Nisei man (ddr-densho-153-46)
doc Letter to a Nisei man (ddr-densho-153-46)
Excerpt: "Pardon me for the long delay in answering your last letter which I received some three weeks ago." Sent from Manzanar concentration camp, California, to Chicago, Illinois. Letter is incomplete.
Letter to a Nisei man from his sister (ddr-densho-153-88)
doc Letter to a Nisei man from his sister (ddr-densho-153-88)
Excerpt: "Here I am, I just ate supper, & heres what we had." Sent from Manzanar concentration camp, California, to Chicago, Illinois.
Letter to a Nisei man from his sister (ddr-densho-153-67)
doc Letter to a Nisei man from his sister (ddr-densho-153-67)
Excerpt: "This morning I finished ironing." Sent from Manzanar concentration camp, California, to Chicago, Illinois.
Letter to a Nisei man from his sister (ddr-densho-153-53)
doc Letter to a Nisei man from his sister (ddr-densho-153-53)
Excerpt: "This morning I got up at 6:05 and got dressed and washed up." Sent from Manzanar concentration camp, California, to Chicago, Illinois.
Letter to a Nisei man from his sister (ddr-densho-153-45)
doc Letter to a Nisei man from his sister (ddr-densho-153-45)
Excerpt: "Just got your letter. Glad to hear that your in good condition as we are in the same conditions." Sent from Manzanar concentration camp, California, to Chicago, Illinois.
Letter to a Nisei man from his sister (ddr-densho-153-68)
doc Letter to a Nisei man from his sister (ddr-densho-153-68)
Excerpt: "Thank you for the post card. We are all well." Sent from Manzanar concentration camp, California, to Chicago, Illinois
Letter to a Nisei man from his sister (ddr-densho-153-55)
doc Letter to a Nisei man from his sister (ddr-densho-153-55)
Excerpt: "We are all well and hope the flu's okay." Sent from Manzanar concentration camp, California, to Chicago, Illinois.
Painting of the mess hall line (ddr-manz-2-9)
img Painting of the mess hall line (ddr-manz-2-9)
Caption: "Progress after one year. The mess hall line" and "Wall painting by Takamura."
Mitsue Matsui Segment 12 (ddr-densho-1008-3-12)
vh Mitsue Matsui Segment 12 (ddr-densho-1008-3-12)
Living conditions in Topaz concentration camp: lacking privacy

Members of the National Japanese American Historical Society (NJAHS) arranged for and conducted this interview in conjunction with Densho.

Eiichi Edward Sakauye Interview I Segment 5 (ddr-densho-1005-1-5)
vh Eiichi Edward Sakauye Interview I Segment 5 (ddr-densho-1005-1-5)
Daily activities in camp: lessons, USO, community store

Eiichi Edward Sakauye shot footage of the Heart Mountain concentration camp, Wyoming, from 1943-1945, on 8 mm film. This interview is of Mr. Sakauye providing voice-over descriptions for his original footage.

Shosuke Sasaki Interview Segment 7 (ddr-densho-1002-2-7)
vh Shosuke Sasaki Interview Segment 7 (ddr-densho-1002-2-7)
Memories of Minidoka concentration camp, Idaho: two instances of "escaping" from camp

This interview was conducted by sisters Emiko and Chizuko Omori for their 1999 documentary, Rabbit in the Moon, about the Japanese American resisters of conscience in the World War II incarceration camps. As a result, the interviews in this collection are typically not life ...

Harry Ueno Interview Segment 10 (ddr-densho-1002-7-10)
vh Harry Ueno Interview Segment 10 (ddr-densho-1002-7-10)
First impressions of Manzanar concentration camp, California: dust and bad food

This interview was conducted by sisters Emiko and Chizuko Omori for their 1999 documentary, Rabbit in the Moon, about the Japanese American resisters of conscience in the World War II incarceration camps. As a result, the interviews in this collection are typically not life histories ...

Frank Emi Interview Segment 3 (ddr-densho-1002-9-3)
vh Frank Emi Interview Segment 3 (ddr-densho-1002-9-3)
First impressions of Heart Mountain concentration camp, Wyoming: a "miserable sight"

This interview was conducted by sisters Emiko and Chizuko Omori for their 1999 documentary, Rabbit in the Moon, about the Japanese American resisters of conscience in the World War II incarceration camps. As a result, the interviews in this collection are typically not life histories ...

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