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
Takeharu Inouye Diary (ddr-densho-365-2)
doc Takeharu Inouye Diary (ddr-densho-365-2)
In the second diary he kept in the camp at Tule Lake, Takeharu Inouye recounts his struggles with education and the boredom resulting from few recreational opportunities. Though he participated in several baseball games with his classmates, Takeharu spent the majority of his free time attending the movie showings that occurred daily or weekly throughout the ...
Takeharu Inouye Diary (ddr-densho-365-1)
doc Takeharu Inouye Diary (ddr-densho-365-1)
Takeharu Inouye's first diary documents his family's forced move to the Sacramento Assembly Center, followed by their move to the Tule Lake concentration camp. Since his mother, Miyoe Inouye, was a teacher, thirteen-year-old Takeharu's diary focuses on his classes in the Japanese and American schools at Tule Lake. His struggles with his schoolwork, as well as ...
Takeharu Inouye Diary (ddr-densho-365-3)
doc Takeharu Inouye Diary (ddr-densho-365-3)
In the final diary that Takeharu Inouye kept during his internment at Tule Lake, he includes descriptions of the movies he went to see daily, which served as his primary form of recreation. Takeharu also describes his feelings over succeeding and failing in his high school classes, since his friends would cheat off of his work, ...
Man and boy at Manzanar (ddr-densho-359-1448)
img Man and boy at Manzanar (ddr-densho-359-1448)
A man and boy pose for a photograph next to a sprinkler at Manzanar Concentration Camp in California.
Letter from Phil Okano to Alice Okano (ddr-densho-359-1213)
doc Letter from Phil Okano to Alice Okano (ddr-densho-359-1213)
Phil writes to his wife, Alice Okano, concerning his travel from Amanche Concentration camp to Denver. He couldn't convince his father to leave Amanche. Phil writes that many people were biding their time in the camp to see how the war in the Pacific would pan out before making any decisions about leaving camp. Phil is ...
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.
Child at Manzanar (ddr-densho-359-1444)
img Child at Manzanar (ddr-densho-359-1444)
A young boy plays in front of the barracks at Manzanar Concentration Camp.
Change of address notice for a life insurance policy (ddr-densho-350-27)
doc Change of address notice for a life insurance policy (ddr-densho-350-27)
Shigenori Oiye's change of address for a life insurance policy. The change is to his new address at Tule Lake concentration camp.
Guard tower with a tank in the foreground (ddr-densho-350-19)
img Guard tower with a tank in the foreground (ddr-densho-350-19)
Caption on reverse: "Guard tower - guard by TFA (Task forces alfa [sic])."
The Oiye Family at Tule Lake (ddr-densho-350-20)
img The Oiye Family at Tule Lake (ddr-densho-350-20)
Left to right: Mary Shizuko Oiye, Shoji Oiye, unknown, Misa Mihara. Caption on reverse: "Jan, 1946."
Letter  from the Masudas to Mrs. Charles Gates (ddr-densho-211-7)
doc Letter from the Masudas to Mrs. Charles Gates (ddr-densho-211-7)
Letter on a single sheet of paper, folded into quarters, from the Masudas in Poston.
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