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.

World War II (66)
Concentration camps (592)
Living conditions (974)

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

974 items
Baby Boy (ddr-hmwf-1-319)
img Baby Boy (ddr-hmwf-1-319)
"Kazn Fiyii, 24-11-E Jan 4 1944" l6 f4.5 1/10, SuperXX DK20-50' D76-25'
View of camp (ddr-hmwf-1-576)
img View of camp (ddr-hmwf-1-576)
View of camp with Heart Mountain in background
Christmas Exercise (ddr-hmwf-1-473)
img Christmas Exercise (ddr-hmwf-1-473)
"Christmas Exercise 22-25 Rec Hall, Dec 22-1943" as described on back, children performing
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"
Baby (ddr-hmwf-1-286)
img Baby (ddr-hmwf-1-286)
"Isao Nakaishi 29-24-D, Aug 31 1944" as described on back, f8 1/50 Verichrome G3
View of camp (ddr-hmwf-1-561)
img View of camp (ddr-hmwf-1-561)
View of camp with Heart Mountain in background
Christmas Exercise (ddr-hmwf-1-461)
img Christmas Exercise (ddr-hmwf-1-461)
"Christmas Exercise 22-25, Rec Hall, Dec 22 1943, Project Photographer- Bud Aoyama" as described on back, group of kids practicing for a Christmas Exercise
Coal Rush (ddr-hmwf-1-471)
img Coal Rush (ddr-hmwf-1-471)
"Coal rush, 29-28 Jan 7-1944 2:30pm, f12.7 1/100 SuperIkontaB SuperXX Roll, DK20-50' D76-20' "as described on back
View of camp (ddr-hmwf-1-560)
img View of camp (ddr-hmwf-1-560)
"July 29-1944, SuperpanPress SuperIkontaB, f19 1/50 G3, D76-42' " as described on back, view of camp with Heart Mountain in background
Men Bathing (ddr-hmwf-1-547)
img Men Bathing (ddr-hmwf-1-547)
"Jan 6-1945 midnight" as described on back, 2 men bathing in wooden barrels
Baby (ddr-hmwf-1-297)
img Baby (ddr-hmwf-1-297)
"Isao Nakaishi 29-24-D, Aug 31 1944" as described on back, f8 1/50 Verichrome G3
Heart Mountain (ddr-hmwf-1-229)
img Heart Mountain (ddr-hmwf-1-229)
"Edge of camp view of Heart Mountain with guard tower and barracks"
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
Japanese Americans standing in line for soap (ddr-densho-151-34)
img Japanese Americans standing in line for soap (ddr-densho-151-34)
Original WRA caption: Manzanar Relocation Center, Manzanar, California. Evacuees of Japanese ancestry at this War Relocation Authority center line up at Warehouse Number 26 for their allotment of soap. Four bars of soap are distributed to each apartment on designated days. One representative of each apartment room must appear presenting his identification tag.
Concentration camp firebreak (ddr-densho-151-68)
img Concentration camp firebreak (ddr-densho-151-68)
Original WRA caption: Manzanar Relocation Center, Manzanar, California. General view of this War Relocation Authority center located in Owens Valley looking east across the wide fire-break which separates blocks of barracks.
Concentration camp street scene (ddr-densho-151-69)
img Concentration camp street scene (ddr-densho-151-69)
Original WRA caption: Manzanar Relocation Center, Manzanar, California. Street scene looking east toward the Inyo Mountains at this War Relocation Authority center. The children are coming to their barrack homes from play school.
Concentration camp barracks (ddr-densho-151-67)
img Concentration camp barracks (ddr-densho-151-67)
Original WRA caption: Manzanar Relocation Center, Manzanar, California. Street scene looking west between barrack blocks at this War Relocation Authority center for evacuees of Japanese ancestry.
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.
Manzanar concentration camp, California (ddr-densho-151-64)
img Manzanar concentration camp, California (ddr-densho-151-64)
Original WRA caption: Manzanar Relocation Center, Manzanar, California. View of the Manzanar Relocation Center showing the buildings (right) where camouflage nets are made.
Concentration camp gardens (ddr-densho-151-71)
img Concentration camp gardens (ddr-densho-151-71)
Original WRA caption: Manzanar Relocation Center, Manzanar, California. Evacuees of Japanese ancestry are growing flourishing truck crops for their own use in their "hobby gardens". These crops are grown in plots 10 x 50 feet between blocks of barracks at this War Relocation Authority center.
Letter to a Nisei man from his sister (ddr-densho-153-33)
doc Letter to a Nisei man from his sister (ddr-densho-153-33)
Excerpt: "What do you know, well I'm going to be a A9 next Monday & I sure am glad this semesters over & next semester im going to have to study real hard." Sent from Manzanar concentration camp, California, to Chicago, Illinois.
Letter to a Nisei man from his brother (ddr-densho-153-47)
doc Letter to a Nisei man from his brother (ddr-densho-153-47)
Excerpt: "We've been receiving yours letters steady and as you mentioned in your last letter, we will send you more letters and much steadier." Sent from Manzanar concentration camp, California, to Chicago, Illinois.
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 brother (ddr-densho-153-44)
doc Letter to a Nisei man from his brother (ddr-densho-153-44)
Excerpt: "I have about forty-five minutes to kill before a show so I thought I'd write you." Sent from Manzanar concentration camp, California, to Chicago, Illinois.
Letter to a Nisei man from his sister (ddr-densho-153-51)
doc Letter to a Nisei man from his sister (ddr-densho-153-51)
Excerpt: "Heres hoping to find you getting well from the intestinal flu." Sent from Manzanar concentration camp, California, to Chicago, Illinois.
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