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 (876)

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

871 items
George Baba and Tokiji Umeda overhauling a truck loader in motor pool repair section at Rohwer incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-24)
img George Baba and Tokiji Umeda overhauling a truck loader in motor pool repair section at Rohwer incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-24)
George Baba and Tokiji Umeda overhauling a truck loader in motor pool repair section at Rohwer incarceration camp. March 10, 1943. Photo by Tom Parker. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: HMLSC_TOMO_024
In the Engineering and Operation Division of Jerome incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-13)
img In the Engineering and Operation Division of Jerome incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-13)
In the Engineering and Operation Division of Jerome incarceration camp, Yoshiyuki Murata, graduate engineer, prepares plans for center construction. March 10, 1943. Photo by Tom Parker. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: HMLSC_TOMO_013
'Jap Crow' Experiment (ddr-csujad-19-43)
doc 'Jap Crow' Experiment (ddr-csujad-19-43)
This is an article from the magazine "The Nation" by John Larison which discusses in detail about the living conditions of the "evacuees" in the war relocation centers. It talks about how the war relocation centers had only a few facilities for recreation, the low quality of education and the economic conditions of the people in ...
Tule Lake monograph (ddr-csujad-26-1)
doc Tule Lake monograph (ddr-csujad-26-1)
Unpublished manuscript includes a collection of diary entries, letters, and essays written by school students incarcerated at the Tule Lake camp and collected through the Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Study (JERS). The writings include first-person descriptions of travel to the Tule Lake camp, adapting to camp, limitations of camp, day-to-day camp life, family life, community ...
Group photo with dog (ddr-csujad-26-113)
img Group photo with dog (ddr-csujad-26-113)
Robert Billigmeier, a Japanese American man, and two Caucasian woman pose with a dog, an automobile, and barracks in the background. Additional photos in sequence include: ucsb_mei_0109, ucsb_mei_0111, ucsb_mei_0114, ucsb_mei_0115. From photo album of Robert Billigmeier. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: mei_05_077
Group photo by car (ddr-csujad-26-111)
img Group photo by car (ddr-csujad-26-111)
A group of five women and one man poses in front of a car with barracks in the background. Additional photos in sequence include: ucsb_mei_0109, ucsb_mei_0113, ucsb_mei_0114, ucsb_mei_0115. From photo album of Robert Billigmeier. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: mei_05_075
Young Japanese couple (ddr-csujad-26-119)
img Young Japanese couple (ddr-csujad-26-119)
Photo of a young Japanese American couple seated on a bench in front of barracks buildings. From photo album of Robert Billigmeier. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: mei_05_088
Tule Lake scrapbook illustrated page (ddr-csujad-26-64)
img Tule Lake scrapbook illustrated page (ddr-csujad-26-64)
Scrapbook page features a pastel drawing of women showering and in various states of undress in camp barracks. Illustration is accompanied by a poem "Barrack room ballads" about the lack of both privacy and comfort of women using camp barracks showers and toilets. Tule Lake scrapbook (ucsb_mei_0053), page 31. See this object in the California State ...
University of California evacuation and resettlement study: The Gila River WRA relocation center, Rivers, Pinal County, Arizona (ddr-csujad-26-27)
doc University of California evacuation and resettlement study: The Gila River WRA relocation center, Rivers, Pinal County, Arizona (ddr-csujad-26-27)
Description of the Gila River incarceration camp during the first month of occupation, including camp location, climate, landscape, barracks, issues with camp construction, poor conditions and lack of furnishings, incarcerees who were subjected to upon arrival. Camp administration, food and housing issues, camp employment, security, recreation, and social groups are described and analyzed. Report compiled as ...
Structural report, chapter I: an introduction to Tule Lake (ddr-csujad-26-3)
doc Structural report, chapter I: an introduction to Tule Lake (ddr-csujad-26-3)
Portion of a report compiled as part of the Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Study (JERS) describing the landscape, climate, barracks, facilities, schedule, and daily life routines of incarcerees at the Tule Lake incarceration camp. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: mei_01_34_001
Internees filled mattress tickings (ddr-densho-253-3)
img Internees filled mattress tickings (ddr-densho-253-3)
Caption: "Internees filled matress tickings with straw as the last daylight fades over the Sierras. Upon these ticks, covering metal Army cots, Japanese slept. Only essential furniture was supplied. Additional comforts were fashioned in Manzanar workshops."
Woman en route to the shower (ddr-densho-2-7)
img Woman en route to the shower (ddr-densho-2-7)
Kadju Nishimura of Block 26 is on her way to take a shower. Note the Japanese clogs, called geta, that she is wearing. Geta enabled her to keep her feet clean while she walked through the dirt and mud.
Japanese American shoveling coal into a heater (ddr-densho-15-72)
img Japanese American shoveling coal into a heater (ddr-densho-15-72)
Camp inmate shoveling coal into the block's central heater, which will warm water for the laundry and bath facilities.
Japanese Americans inside barracks (ddr-densho-15-123)
img Japanese Americans inside barracks (ddr-densho-15-123)
Left to right: Norio Mitsuoka, Bob Ikeda, and Tak Hori sit inside Yoneko Tanaka's barracks.
Japanese American making furniture (ddr-densho-15-63)
img Japanese American making furniture (ddr-densho-15-63)
Barracks apartments were furnished only with a coal-burning stove and a cot. Consequently, many camp inmates made furniture from scrap lumber.
Camp administration buildings (ddr-densho-37-778)
img Camp administration buildings (ddr-densho-37-778)
Original WRA caption: Granada Relocation Center, Amache, Colorado. A review of the administrative area after a December snow storm. At the left is the post office and the two buildings at the right are administrative office buildings.
Winter in camp (ddr-densho-37-351)
img Winter in camp (ddr-densho-37-351)
Original WRA caption: A winter time scene looking east down the main fire break.
Exterior view of Amache (Granada) (ddr-densho-37-389)
img Exterior view of Amache (Granada) (ddr-densho-37-389)
Original WRA caption: Granada Relocation Center, Amache, Colorado. Weeds are already taking over where recently thousands of evacuees moved about between their temporary homes and the mess halls, schools and churches of various denominations. A total of nearly 15,000 evacuees were induced into the Granada Project, Amache, Colorado, since August 27, 1942, when the first ...
Shower facilities (ddr-densho-37-477)
img Shower facilities (ddr-densho-37-477)
Original WRA caption: Poston, Arizona. Typical shower facilities at this War Relocation authority center for evacuees of Japanese ancestry.
Minidoka concentration camp (ddr-densho-37-424)
img Minidoka concentration camp (ddr-densho-37-424)
Original WRA caption: Minidoka Relocation Center, Hunt, Idaho. Looking down at the rows of barracks westward from block 44. At extreme left is a corner of the dining hall where the 275 to 300 residents of the block eat. At center background is the sanitation building including showers, lavatories, toilets and washtubs. Nearly all the residents ...
Camp street (ddr-densho-37-810)
img Camp street (ddr-densho-37-810)
Original WRA caption: Manzanar Relocation Center, Manzanar, California. Street scene and view of quarters for evacuees of Japanese ancestry at Manzanar reception center. High Sierras in background.
Aerial view of Amache concentration camp, Colorado (ddr-densho-37-772)
img Aerial view of Amache concentration camp, Colorado (ddr-densho-37-772)
Original WRA caption: Granada Relocation Center, Amache, Colorado. On a Sunday afternoon at the Amache Center, the day is calm and the warm December sun invites center residents from their barracks homes.
Flooded conditions (ddr-densho-37-690)
img Flooded conditions (ddr-densho-37-690)
Original WRA caption: Flooded area east of Block 3.
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