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
Aerial view of section of emergency center at Granada incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-48)
img Aerial view of section of emergency center at Granada incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-48)
Aerial view of section of emergency center at Granada incarceration camp, looking north and west. December 12, 1942. Photo by Tom Parker. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: HMLSC_TOMO_f13
Stockade wood-burning stove (ddr-densho-11-8)
img Stockade wood-burning stove (ddr-densho-11-8)
In 1943, Tule Lake concentration camp became a segregation center. A stockade was built to detain those who were considered security risks by the WRA. This wood-burning stove was used to help heat the stockade.
Japanese American in front of a vanity (ddr-densho-15-47)
img Japanese American in front of a vanity (ddr-densho-15-47)
Yoneko Tanaka from Seattle did her best to make her austere barrack apartment homelike. She constructed the vanity from scrap lumber.
Japanese Americans carrying plywood (ddr-densho-15-55)
img Japanese Americans carrying plywood (ddr-densho-15-55)
Yoneko Tanaka (left) and Norio Mitsuoka carry away lumber to make furniture.
Two Japanese Americans in their barracks apartment (ddr-densho-15-58)
img Two Japanese Americans in their barracks apartment (ddr-densho-15-58)
Grandma Yorozu, who at eighty-four years of age was one of the oldest Japanese Americans at Minidoka, and Fusa Yorozu inside their barracks apartment.
Family outside their barrack (ddr-densho-34-163)
img Family outside their barrack (ddr-densho-34-163)
The Takemoto family outside their barrack at the Manzanar concentration camp, California.
Camp boundary sign (ddr-densho-37-835)
img Camp boundary sign (ddr-densho-37-835)
Original caption: Tule Lake Relocation Center, Newell, California. (L to R) Frank Vail, newsreel cameraman for Pathe, and Joe Rucker, for Paramont, photograph boundry markers.
Camp barracks (ddr-densho-37-541)
img Camp barracks (ddr-densho-37-541)
Original WRA caption: Rohwer Relocation Center, McGehee, Arkansas. Barrack scene at Rohwer Relocation Center.
View between barracks (ddr-densho-37-715)
img View between barracks (ddr-densho-37-715)
Original WRA caption: Looking down the barracks from 34 to 44.
Administration building (ddr-densho-37-825)
img Administration building (ddr-densho-37-825)
Original WRA caption: Minidoka Relocation Center, Hunt, Idaho. Main administration building.