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
Artist completing a watercolor at Granada incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-49)
img Artist completing a watercolor at Granada incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-49)
Artist completing a watercolor at Granada incarceration camp. Photo by Tom Parker. December 13, 1942. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: HMLSC_TOMO_f14
Nisei machinist preparing a truck axle in machine shop at Heart Mountain incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-11)
img Nisei machinist preparing a truck axle in machine shop at Heart Mountain incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-11)
Nisei machinist preparing a truck axle in machine shop at Heart Mountain incarceration camp. January 9, 1943. Photo by Tom Parker. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: HMLSC_TOMO_011
Former California mechanic Chester Ishii repairing piece of farm machinery at Rohwer incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-25)
img Former California mechanic Chester Ishii repairing piece of farm machinery at Rohwer incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-25)
Former California mechanic Chester Ishii repairing piece of farm machinery 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_025
Mechanic honing cylinders in a truck motor at Heart Mountain incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-53)
img Mechanic honing cylinders in a truck motor at Heart Mountain incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-53)
Mechanic honing cylinders in a truck motor at Heart Mountain incarceration camp. January 2, 1943. Photo by Tom Parker. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: HMLSC_TOMO_f18
Former Californian K. Inoye operates hand saw (ddr-csujad-14-17)
img Former Californian K. Inoye operates hand saw (ddr-csujad-14-17)
Former Californian K. Inoye operates hand saw in cabinet shop at Jerome incarceration camp. March 12, 1943. Photo by Tom Parker. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: HMLSC_TOMO_017
High school Junior Class dance at Granada incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-43)
img High school Junior Class dance at Granada incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-43)
High school Junior Class dance at Granada incarceration camp. December 11, 1942. Photo by Tom Parker. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: HMLSC_TOMO_f08
Incarcerees watching outdoor musical performance at Manzanar incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-20)
img Incarcerees watching outdoor musical performance at Manzanar incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-20)
Incarcerees watching outdoor musical performance at Manzanar incarceration camp. June 5, 1942. Photo by Francis Stewart. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: HMLSC_TOMO_020
Cooperative beauty salon at Granada incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-42)
img Cooperative beauty salon at Granada incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-42)
Cooperative beauty salon at Granada incarceration camp. December 11, 1942. Photo by Tom Parker. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: HMLSC_TOMO_f07
Sixth grade boys playing softball during recess at Manzanar incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-19)
img Sixth grade boys playing softball during recess at Manzanar incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-19)
Sixth grade boys playing softball during recess at Manzanar incarceration camp. February 10, 1943. Photo by Francis Stewart. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: HMLSC_TOMO_019
Boys playing basketball at Granada incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-45)
img Boys playing basketball at Granada incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-45)
Boys playing basketball at Granada incarceration camp. December 11, 1942. Photo by Tom Parker. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: HMLSC_TOMO_f10
Two incarcerees learning to run a steam shovel at Granada incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-39)
img Two incarcerees learning to run a steam shovel at Granada incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-39)
Two incarcerees learning to run a steam shovel at Granada incarceration camp. December 9, 1942. Photo by Tom Parker. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: HMLSC_TOMO_f04
Evening view of Heart Mountain incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-8)
img Evening view of Heart Mountain incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-8)
Evening view of Heart Mountain incarceration camp, September 19, 1942. Photo by Tom Parker. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: HMLSC_TOMO_008
Swing Band practice at Heart Mountain incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-51)
img Swing Band practice at Heart Mountain incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-51)
Swing Band practice at Heart Mountain incarceration camp. September 16, 1942. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: HMLSC_TOMO_f16
Desert Sentinel, Vol. I. No. 15, June 21, 1943 (ddr-csujad-17-1)
doc Desert Sentinel, Vol. I. No. 15, June 21, 1943 (ddr-csujad-17-1)
School newspaper published at the Gila River incarceration camp. According to an announcement on the back page, publication seeks to make known the War Relocation Authority's "plans and policies," the results of Community Council deliberations, and various regulations and news about life at the Gila River Incarceration Camp. Issue features articles about and by the Camp's ...
Desert Sentinel, Vol. I No. 12, May 14, 1943 (ddr-csujad-17-2)
doc Desert Sentinel, Vol. I No. 12, May 14, 1943 (ddr-csujad-17-2)
School newspaper published at the Gila River incarceration camp. Features and items include a report on a bond drive and on a "Kampus Karnival"; news about the debate team and about a talent show, as well as about goings-on at Topaz, Utah; Manzanar, California; Echoes, Wyoming; Hunt, Idaho; and Amache, Colorado; and illustrations. See this object ...
Desert Sentinel, Vol. I No. 3, December 24, 1942 (ddr-csujad-17-4)
doc Desert Sentinel, Vol. I No. 3, December 24, 1942 (ddr-csujad-17-4)
School newspaper published at the Gila River incarceration camp. Features and topics include a constitution and new principal for Butte High School; news of campus, sports, and social and holiday events; items about classes, students and teachers; and short prose and poetry pieces. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: ...
Deserted Senses [spoof title for Desert Sentinel], Vol. I, No. 9, April 1, 1943 (ddr-csujad-17-3)
doc Deserted Senses [spoof title for Desert Sentinel], Vol. I, No. 9, April 1, 1943 (ddr-csujad-17-3)
School newspaper published at the Gila River incarceration camp; this is an April Fools' Day issue with articles and illustrations making fun of life at camp. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: JARC_04-01_03
Granada Pioneer, Edition 2, Issue 21, January 15, 1944 (ddr-csujad-17-9)
doc Granada Pioneer, Edition 2, Issue 21, January 15, 1944 (ddr-csujad-17-9)
Newspaper published at the Granada incarceration camp. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: JARC_02-07_04
Granada Pioneer, Edition 2, Issue 20, January 8, 1944 (ddr-csujad-17-8)
doc Granada Pioneer, Edition 2, Issue 20, January 8, 1944 (ddr-csujad-17-8)
Newspaper published at the Granada incarceration camp. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: JARC_02-07_03
Granada Pioneer, Vol. I, No.5, November 11, 1942 (ddr-csujad-17-6)
doc Granada Pioneer, Vol. I, No.5, November 11, 1942 (ddr-csujad-17-6)
Newspaper published at the Granada incarceration camp. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: JARC_02-01_06
Granada Pioneer, Vol. I, No.61, May 1, 1943 (ddr-csujad-17-7)
doc Granada Pioneer, Vol. I, No.61, May 1, 1943 (ddr-csujad-17-7)
Newspaper published at the Granada incarceration camp. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: JARC_02-04_01
Relocation Communities for Wartime Evacuees, September 1942 (ddr-csujad-19-23)
doc Relocation Communities for Wartime Evacuees, September 1942 (ddr-csujad-19-23)
This paper describes the relocation communities for "the wartime evacuees" from the Pacific Coast. It also talks about the community life and the work opportunities for the incarceress in the different incarceration camps. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: WRA_01-15_01
This isn't Japan (ddr-csujad-19-54)
doc This isn't Japan (ddr-csujad-19-54)
This is an article from the magazine "Common Ground," autumn 1942, by Mary Oyama which describes the cultural differences between the younger Japanese American Nisei and the older Issei generations. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: WRA_02-10_02
Scrap lumber conflict (ddr-csujad-26-17)
doc Scrap lumber conflict (ddr-csujad-26-17)
Report utilizing journal entries to describe competition and conflicts between incarcerees over scrap lumber leftover from camp construction. Describes lumber usage by incarcerees includes construction of furniture and porches, creation of partitions in the barracks for privacy, and accumulation for use during winter. The report includes observations of inequality, disorganization, and the lack of administrative oversight ...
Women and dog (ddr-csujad-26-114)
img Women and dog (ddr-csujad-26-114)
Four women and a dog pose in front of an automobile while Robert Billigmeier points toward the camera. Barracks are in background. Additional photos in sequence include: ucsb_mei_0109, ucsb_mei_0111, ucsb_mei_0113, ucsb_mei_0115. From photo album of Robert Billigmeier. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: mei_05_078
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