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 (957)

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

950 items
Marjorie Matsushita Sperling Interview Segment 17 (ddr-densho-1000-273-17)
vh Marjorie Matsushita Sperling Interview Segment 17 (ddr-densho-1000-273-17)
Early impressions of Heart Mountain

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 Department of the Interior.

Louise Kashino Segment 15 (ddr-densho-1000-31-15)
vh Louise Kashino Segment 15 (ddr-densho-1000-31-15)
Minidoka concentration camp: adapting to conditions

For the first hour of this interview, an additional camera crew from KCTS Television was also present.

Desert Sentinel, Vol. I No. 12, May 14, 1943 (ddr-csujad-17-2)
doc Desert Sentinel, Vol. I No. 12, May 14, 1943 (ddr-csujad-17-2)
School newspaper published at the Gila River incarceration camp. Features and items include a report on a bond drive and on a "Kampus Karnival"; news about the debate team and about a talent show, as well as about goings-on at Topaz, Utah; Manzanar, California; Echoes, Wyoming; Hunt, Idaho; and Amache, Colorado; and illustrations. See this object ...
Tule Lake scrapbook (ddr-csujad-26-53)
img Tule Lake scrapbook (ddr-csujad-26-53)
Scrapbook created in Tule Lake camp by Japanese American students. Contents include drawings, art, holiday greeting cards prints, poetry and signatures of student groups. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: mei_03_20_001
Camp buildings with dust cloud (ddr-csujad-26-69)
img Camp buildings with dust cloud (ddr-csujad-26-69)
Camp barracks buildings line a road with dust cloud. People can be seen in front of the buildings in distance. From photo album of Robert Billigmeier. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: mei_05_006
Personality cards (ddr-csujad-26-44)
doc Personality cards (ddr-csujad-26-44)
Journal entries written by high school students discussing their observations and perspectives on a variety of topics including social and cultural differences, personality conflicts, friendships, social interactions, school, dogs, memories, reflections on camp life, weather, a friend in the military visiting his parents in camp, hobbies, and opinions about other people and daily life. Each entry ...
Personality cards (ddr-csujad-26-43)
doc Personality cards (ddr-csujad-26-43)
Journal entries written by high school students discussing their observations and perspectives on a variety of topics including family interactions, memories, homesickness, friendships, social interactions, school, self-reflection, juvenile delinquency, peer behaviors, death, religion, opinions, and worldviews. Each entry includes the full date and student name. The entries were part of a class assignment and collected for ...
Group photo in front of barracks building (ddr-csujad-26-81)
img Group photo in front of barracks building (ddr-csujad-26-81)
Posed group photo in front of a barracks building of eighteen Japanese Americans and Caucasian adults, one baby, and one dog. From photo album of Robert Billigmeier. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: mei_05_018
Landscape with barracks building (ddr-csujad-26-121)
img Landscape with barracks building (ddr-csujad-26-121)
Photo of the desert landscape with a portion of a barracks building. Leftover wood crates are stacked next to the building while the camp border fence can be sen in the distance. From photo album of Robert Billigmeier. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: mei_05_090
Cooperatively owned canteen (ddr-csujad-26-130)
img Cooperatively owned canteen (ddr-csujad-26-130)
Photo of people working and shopping inside a canteen. Goods are seen divided by type. Verso reads "cooperatively owned canteen." From photo album of Robert Billigmeier. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: mei_05_100
Scrap lumber conflict (ddr-csujad-26-17)
doc Scrap lumber conflict (ddr-csujad-26-17)
Report utilizing journal entries to describe competition and conflicts between incarcerees over scrap lumber leftover from camp construction. Describes lumber usage by incarcerees includes construction of furniture and porches, creation of partitions in the barracks for privacy, and accumulation for use during winter. The report includes observations of inequality, disorganization, and the lack of administrative oversight ...
Woman and young men (ddr-csujad-26-82)
img Woman and young men (ddr-csujad-26-82)
A Caucasian woman and three young Japanese American men pose in front of a barracks building. From photo album of Robert Billigmeier. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: mei_05_019
Letter from Phil Okano to Alice Okano (ddr-densho-359-1212)
doc Letter from Phil Okano to Alice Okano (ddr-densho-359-1212)
Phil writes to his wife, Alice Okano, concerning life in the Amanche Concentration Camp including activities at the high school and social gatherings. He also mentions an upcoming trip to Denver and trying to convince other families to leave the camp.
Envelope and letters to Dr. Keizaburo
doc Envelope and letters to Dr. Keizaburo "Kei" Koyama from Miriam Kiyo Koyama and William Koyama (ddr-one-5-28)
Envelope addressed to Dr. Keizaburo Koyama at Camp Livingston from his children, William Koyama and Miriam Kiyo Koyama, at Minidoka. Postmarked Sep 11, 1942. To the left of the postmark “Sept 14, 42” is written in red pencil. On the left side of the envelope is a purple "Censored" stamp. Inside the envelope are two letters, ...
Letter from Henry [Katsumi] Fujita to Mr. and Mrs. Davis, October 5, 1942 (ddr-csujad-23-14)
doc Letter from Henry [Katsumi] Fujita to Mr. and Mrs. Davis, October 5, 1942 (ddr-csujad-23-14)
Describes in detail the long train ride from Sept. 15-18 between Merced and the Granada (Amache) incarceration camp: the layout of the train cars, times to different towns, tunnels and coal smoke, eating and sleeping arrangements, military troops and equipment staged along the railway, desert scenery, late arrival at Amache, an extra night aboard the train, ...
Masamizu Kitajima Interview Segment 20 (ddr-densho-1000-287-20)
vh Masamizu Kitajima Interview Segment 20 (ddr-densho-1000-287-20)
Unprepared for winter weather conditions in Arkansas

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 Department of the Interior.

Tom Toshimi Shimasaki (ddr-csujad-8-63)
doc Tom Toshimi Shimasaki (ddr-csujad-8-63)
Oral history interview with Toshimi Tom Shimasaki. Information on the oral history project is found in: csuf_stp_0012A; Glossary in: csuf_stp_0014. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: FCPL Shimasaki, Tom Toshimi
An Oral History with Sumiye Takeno, Part I (ddr-csujad-29-59)
vh An Oral History with Sumiye Takeno, Part I (ddr-csujad-29-59)
An oral history with Sumiye Takeno, a current resident of Denver, Colorado. This interview was conducted for the Japanese American Oral History Project by California State University, Fullerton. The purpose of this interview was to gather information regarding Takeno's incarceration and resettlement experience during World War II. Specifically, the interview covers her childhood in Florin, California, ...
An oral history with Togo Tanaka - Segment 1 (ddr-csujad-29-62-1)
vh An oral history with Togo Tanaka - Segment 1 (ddr-csujad-29-62-1)
An oral interview with Togo Tanaka, newspaper editor, documentary historian, and businessman who was incarcerated at the Manzanar camp. The interview was conducted for the Japanese American Oral History Project by California State University, Fullerton. Transcription is found in the item: csufccop_jaoh_0104. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: 1271.3_T01
API