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
Flowers (ddr-hmwf-1-84)
img Flowers (ddr-hmwf-1-84)
"Flowers (artificial) mess 29-27 May 3, 1943, Gevaert cut" as described on back, l5 f5.6- 1sec. DK20-20min, #2 150
Collecting coal (ddr-hmwf-1-63)
img Collecting coal (ddr-hmwf-1-63)
"Collecting coal outside barracks, woman walking with dog in background"
Baby (ddr-hmwf-1-295)
img Baby (ddr-hmwf-1-295)
"Isao Nakaishi 29-24-D, Aug 31 1944" as described on back, f8 1/50 Verichrome G3
Girl posing (ddr-hmwf-1-275)
img Girl posing (ddr-hmwf-1-275)
"April 11 1944, Leica" as described on back
Woman Posing (ddr-hmwf-1-484)
img Woman Posing (ddr-hmwf-1-484)
Young woman standing along edge of camp
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
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
Letter to Molly Wilson from Mary Murakami (October 6, 1942) (ddr-janm-1-29)
doc Letter to Molly Wilson from Mary Murakami (October 6, 1942) (ddr-janm-1-29)
Handwritten letter to Molly Wilson from Mary Murakami (October 6, 1942).
Letter (with envelope) to Molly Wilson from Chiyeko Akahoshi (November 27, 1943) (ddr-janm-1-108)
doc Letter (with envelope) to Molly Wilson from Chiyeko Akahoshi (November 27, 1943) (ddr-janm-1-108)
Handwritten letter to Molly Wilson from Chiyeko Akahoshi (November 27, 1943). Envelope is postmarked November 29, 1943 from the Manzanar Incarceration Camp in Manzanar, California.
Letter (with envelope) to Molly Wilson from Violet Saito (March 15, 1943) (ddr-janm-1-69)
doc Letter (with envelope) to Molly Wilson from Violet Saito (March 15, 1943) (ddr-janm-1-69)
Handwritten letter to Mollie Wilson from Violet Saito (March 15, 1943). Envelope is postmarked March 22, 1943 from the Granada (Amache) Incarceration Camp in Amache, Colorado.
Letter (with envelope) to Molly Wilson from Mary Murakami (June 28, 1942) (ddr-janm-1-28)
doc Letter (with envelope) to Molly Wilson from Mary Murakami (June 28, 1942) (ddr-janm-1-28)
Handwritten letter to Molly Wilson from Mary Murakami (June 28, 1942). Envelope is postmarked June 29, 1942 from the Poston (Colorado River) Incarceration Camp in Parker, Arizona.
Letter (with envelope) to Molly Wilson from Chiyeko Akahoshi (December 27, 1943) (ddr-janm-1-110)
doc Letter (with envelope) to Molly Wilson from Chiyeko Akahoshi (December 27, 1943) (ddr-janm-1-110)
Handwritten letter to Molly Wilson from Chiyeko Akahoshi (December 27, 1943). Envelope is postmarked December 31, 1943 from the Manzanar Incarceration Camp in Manzanar, California.
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 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 two Nisei brothers from their sister (ddr-densho-153-117)
doc Letter to two Nisei brothers from their sister (ddr-densho-153-117)
Excerpt: "Yes, yes, yes, a picture of a professor with glasses came." Sent from Manzanar concentration camp, California, to Chicago, Illinois.
Letter to two Nisei brothers from their sister (ddr-densho-153-95)
doc Letter to two Nisei brothers from their sister (ddr-densho-153-95)
Excerpt: "The days are gradually changing more & more." Sent from Manzanar concentration camp, California, to Chicago, Illinois.
Letter to two Nisei brothers from their sister (ddr-densho-153-98)
doc Letter to two Nisei brothers from their sister (ddr-densho-153-98)
Excerpt: "Thank you for the letters." Sent from Manzanar concentration camp, California, to Chicago, Illinois.
Letter to two Nisei brothers from their sister (ddr-densho-153-102)
doc Letter to two Nisei brothers from their sister (ddr-densho-153-102)
Excerpt: "Sorry I haven't been writing to you but I really was busy." Sent from Manzanar concentration camp, California, to Chicago, Illinois.
Letter to a Nisei man from his brother (ddr-densho-153-39)
doc Letter to a Nisei man from his brother (ddr-densho-153-39)
Excerpt: "Received the soldering iron and solder today." Sent from Manzanar concentration camp, California, to Chicago, Illinois.
Fred Oda Interview Segment 19 (ddr-densho-1015-9-19)
vh Fred Oda Interview Segment 19 (ddr-densho-1015-9-19)
Moving to the Poston concentration camp; coping with difficult conditions
Shig Yabu Interview Segment 6 (ddr-densho-1011-10-6)
vh Shig Yabu Interview Segment 6 (ddr-densho-1011-10-6)
Adjusting to living conditions in camp

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.

Donald Yamamoto Interview Segment 4 (ddr-densho-1011-2-4)
vh Donald Yamamoto Interview Segment 4 (ddr-densho-1011-2-4)
Living conditions in camp and being caught out of bounds

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 ...

Hisaye Yamamoto Interview Segment 10 (ddr-densho-1002-10-10)
vh Hisaye Yamamoto Interview Segment 10 (ddr-densho-1002-10-10)
Feelings of camp residents: discouragement, bitterness, but also memories of fun activities

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 ...

Hisaye Yamamoto Interview Segment 7 (ddr-densho-1002-10-7)
vh Hisaye Yamamoto Interview Segment 7 (ddr-densho-1002-10-7)
Recollections of Poston concentration camp, Arizona: heat, sand, 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 ...

API