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
Housing Barracks (ddr-csujad-13-19)
img Housing Barracks (ddr-csujad-13-19)
A distant view of housing barracks inside Tulelake with a handwritten caption at the bottom of the photograph that reads, "Jap quarters Tulelake." See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: tul_01_01_014
Young Nisei girl purchasing Christmas wrappings in cooperative notion store at Granada incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-40)
img Young Nisei girl purchasing Christmas wrappings in cooperative notion store at Granada incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-40)
Young Nisei girl purchasing Christmas wrappings in cooperative notion store at Granada incarceration camp. December 10, 1942. Photo by Tom Parker. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: HMLSC_TOMO_f05
School nurse administrating throat swabbing to grade school students at Granada incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-4)
img School nurse administrating throat swabbing to grade school students at Granada incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-4)
School nurse administrating throat swabbing to grade school students at Granada incarceration camp. December 10, 1942. Photo by Tom Parker. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: HMLSC_TOMO_004
Three students doing steamed crayon work for tablecloths and wall hangings in adult crafts class at Granada incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-41)
img Three students doing steamed crayon work for tablecloths and wall hangings in adult crafts class at Granada incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-41)
Three students doing steamed crayon work for tablecloths and wall hangings in adult crafts class at Granada incarceration camp. December 10, 1942. Photo by Tom Parker. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: HMLSC_TOMO_f06
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
Misae Oku receiving instruction from instructor, Mrs. Sadako Yasue (ddr-csujad-14-22)
img Misae Oku receiving instruction from instructor, Mrs. Sadako Yasue (ddr-csujad-14-22)
Misaye [Misae] Oku receiving instruction from instructor, Mrs. Sadako Yasue, in sewing class at Rohwer incarceration camp. March 7, 1943. Photo by Tom Parker. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: HMLSC_TOMO_022
Aerial view of section of emergency center at Granada incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-48)
img Aerial view of section of emergency center at Granada incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-48)
Aerial view of section of emergency center at Granada incarceration camp, looking north and west. December 12, 1942. Photo by Tom Parker. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: HMLSC_TOMO_f13
Former Californian Dr. Fugikawa examining a patient (ddr-csujad-14-14)
img Former Californian Dr. Fugikawa examining a patient (ddr-csujad-14-14)
Former Californian Dr. Fugikawa examining a patient, S. Ego, with Jerome incarceration camp hospital's fluoroscope. March 11, 1943. Photo by Tom Parker. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: HMLSC_TOMO_014
Former California biochemistry student Tom Arase (ddr-csujad-14-15)
img Former California biochemistry student Tom Arase (ddr-csujad-14-15)
Former California biochemistry student Tom Arase performs gastro analysis in hospital laboratory at Jerome incarceration camp March 3, 1943. Photo by Tom Parker. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: HMLSC_TOMO_015
Assembling and folding
img Assembling and folding "The sentinel," Heart Mountain incarceration camp newspaper (ddr-csujad-14-55)
Assembling and folding "The sentinel," Heart Mountain incarceration camp newspaper. January 8, 1943. Photo by Tom Parker. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: HMLSC_TOMO_f20
Chic Yamaguchi, former farm worker from Kingsburg, California (ddr-csujad-14-2)
img Chic Yamaguchi, former farm worker from Kingsburg, California (ddr-csujad-14-2)
Chic Yamaguchi, former farm worker from Kingsburg, California, turning a section from a model ship on lathe in model ship factory at Gila River incarceration camp. April 27, 1943. Photo by Francis Stewart. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: HMLSC_TOMO_002
Interior view of store in Block 8 at Jerome incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-12)
img Interior view of store in Block 8 at Jerome incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-12)
Interior view of store in Block 8 at Jerome incarceration camp, showing grocery section. November 17, 1943. Photo by Tom Parker. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: HMLSC_TOMO_012
Three high school students with their calves at Granada incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-5)
img Three high school students with their calves at Granada incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-5)
Three high school students with their calves 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_005
Incarcerees having lunch at Granada incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-36)
img Incarcerees having lunch at Granada incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-36)
Incarcerees having lunch at Granada incarceration camp. August 20, 1942. Photo by Tom Parker. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: HMLSC_TOMO_f01
Self-organized harikuri band, string quartet, at Jerome incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-18)
img Self-organized harikuri band, string quartet, at Jerome incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-18)
Self-organized harikuri band, a string quartet at Jerome incarceration camp. Guitar, Joe Iwasaki; first mandolin, Johnny Yamashita; violin, Seichi Ono; second mandolin, Yutaka Motsuda. March 12, 1943. Photo by Tom Parker. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: HMLSC_TOMO_018
Former California plumber Morio Higashi marking out a steel casing for welding at Rohwer incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-23)
img Former California plumber Morio Higashi marking out a steel casing for welding at Rohwer incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-23)
Former California plumber Morio Higashi marking out a steel casing for welding at Rohwer incarceration camp. March 8, 1943. Photo by Tom Parker. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: HMLSC_TOMO_023
Ninomiya family in their barracks room at Granada incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-3)
img Ninomiya family in their barracks room at Granada incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-3)
Ninomiya family in their barracks room at Granada incarceration camp. Tosh Ninomiya was responsible for documenting the history of the Granada center. December 9, 1942. Photo by Tom Parker. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: HMLSC_TOMO_003
Three high school agriculture students with their calves at Granada incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-46)
img Three high school agriculture students with their calves at Granada incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-46)
Three high school agriculture students with their calves 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_f11
High school students changing classes at Rohwer incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-62)
img High school students changing classes at Rohwer incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-62)
High school students changing classes at Rohwer incarceration camp. November 17, 1942. Photo by Tom Parker. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: HMLSC_TOMO_f27
Night school class in advanced English at Heart Mountain incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-59)
img Night school class in advanced English at Heart Mountain incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-59)
Night school class in advanced English at Heart Mountain incarceration camp. January 11, 1943. Photo by Tom Parker. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: HMLSC_TOMO_f24
Desert Sentinel, Volume I, No. 4, November 30, 1942 (ddr-csujad-17-5)
doc Desert Sentinel, Volume I, No. 4, November 30, 1942 (ddr-csujad-17-5)
School newspaper published at the Gila River incarceration camp. Features and topics include a new superintendent and the choice of "Desert Sentinel" as the name for the school paper; news of campus, sports, and social and holiday events, including the opening of the Butte High School library; items about classes, students and teachers, including a student ...
Manzanar From Inside Out (ddr-csujad-19-2)
doc Manzanar From Inside Out (ddr-csujad-19-2)
Text of address by Roy Nash, Director of the Manzanar War Relocation Project, given to the Commonwealth Club of California, San Francisco, on July 31, 1942 for the purpose of "interpret[ing] the actuality of a War Relocation Center housing 10,000 evacuees" in view of perceptions of mistreatment of incarcerees in California. Sections of the speech include ...
'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 ...
Letter from Henry [Katsumi] Fujita to Mr. and Mrs. Davis, October 5, 1942 (ddr-csujad-23-14)
doc Letter from Henry [Katsumi] Fujita to Mr. and Mrs. Davis, October 5, 1942 (ddr-csujad-23-14)
Describes in detail the long train ride from Sept. 15-18 between Merced and the Granada (Amache) incarceration camp: the layout of the train cars, times to different towns, tunnels and coal smoke, eating and sleeping arrangements, military troops and equipment staged along the railway, desert scenery, late arrival at Amache, an extra night aboard the train, ...
Chapter 6 and 7 personality cards (ddr-csujad-26-34)
doc Chapter 6 and 7 personality cards (ddr-csujad-26-34)
Journal entries written by high school students discussing their observations and perspectives on a variety of topics including living in barracks, block noise, lack of privacy, mess hall dining, nosy neighbors, jobs, leisure time, sports, movies, church attendance, the Young Buddhist Association (YBA), family dynamics, social changes, dating, and rumors. Each entry includes the full date ...
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