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 (714)

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

714 items
Barracks interior (ddr-densho-37-828)
img Barracks interior (ddr-densho-37-828)
Original WRA caption: Poston, Arizona. Interior view of barrack construction at this War Relocation Authority center for evacuees of Japanese ancestry.
Camp gate (ddr-densho-37-228)
img Camp gate (ddr-densho-37-228)
Original WRA caption: Tule Lake was different [referring to the camp's gate procedures]. Every evacuee leaving the colony behind the eight-foot fence was required to show a pass to the administrative area. Here, the ambulance stops at Gate 3, vehicle entrance to the colony, so the driver and attendant may show their passes to the ...
Remodeled barracks exterior (ddr-densho-37-78)
img Remodeled barracks exterior (ddr-densho-37-78)
Original WRA caption: A view showing the artistic way in which the evacuees decorate the exterior of the barracks to make them more homelike.
Japanese Americans behind a fence (ddr-densho-37-799)
img Japanese Americans behind a fence (ddr-densho-37-799)
Original WRA caption: Closing of the Jerome Relocation Center, Denson, Arkansas. Evacuees still remaining in the Jerome Center wave to their friends on the train from behind the wire fence surrounding the camp. On subsequent departures they were allowed to pass through the gate and say their goodbyes at close range.
Camp street (ddr-densho-37-823)
img Camp street (ddr-densho-37-823)
Original WRA caption: Minidoka Relocation Center, Hunt, Idaho. Looking down 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 planted ...
Vine-covered barrack (ddr-densho-37-537)
img Vine-covered barrack (ddr-densho-37-537)
Original WRA caption: Rohwer Relocation Center, McGehee, Arkansas. Vines hide the tar paper on this Rohwer residence.
Japanese American family inside barracks (ddr-densho-39-28)
img Japanese American family inside barracks (ddr-densho-39-28)
Dorothy and Jack Yamaguchi, pictured in the middle and to the far right, with their children and the children's grandmother, were from Seattle, Washington. The Yamaguchis returned to Seattle after World War II and worked to help preserve Japanese American history. They developed a slide show and accompanying book called This Is Minidoka, which they ...
Two children walking between barracks (ddr-densho-39-25)
img Two children walking between barracks (ddr-densho-39-25)
The children are Irene Ito, 4, and her brother Hiroshi, 1 1/2. (Info from original museum description)
Street scene in winter (ddr-densho-93-39)
img Street scene in winter (ddr-densho-93-39)
Original Ansel Adams caption: Winter storm, Manzanar Relocation Center, California / photograph by Ansel Adams.
Dust storm (ddr-densho-93-14)
img Dust storm (ddr-densho-93-14)
Original Ansel Adams caption: View SW over Manzanar, dust storm, Manzanar Relocation Center / by Ansel Adams.
Co-Op News, Vol I. No. 12 (August 19, 1943) (ddr-densho-288-10)
doc Co-Op News, Vol I. No. 12 (August 19, 1943) (ddr-densho-288-10)
Selected article titles: "Ice Shortage Due to Army Demand Affects Co-Op" (p. 1), "Wanted: Sales Clerks to Replace Tule Lake Transferees" (p. 1), "Salt Lake Tribune: Block Managers Aid in Distribution" (p. 1), "Withdrawls from Bank can be Made at Any Time" (p. 1).
Co-Op News, Vol I. No. 10 (August 5, 1943) (ddr-densho-288-8)
doc Co-Op News, Vol I. No. 10 (August 5, 1943) (ddr-densho-288-8)
Selected article titles: "Transferees to Receive Rebates at Same Time as Other Members" (p. 1), ""WPB Rule Cuts Deliveries of Salt Lake Tribune" (p. 1), "Policy on Exchange of Dry Goods Stated" (p. 1).
Permit to use a hot plate (ddr-densho-324-58)
doc Permit to use a hot plate (ddr-densho-324-58)
A permit allowing the Uno's to use a hot plate in their Tule Lake barracks for dietary reasons.
Apartment room (ddr-hmwf-1-235)
img Apartment room (ddr-hmwf-1-235)
"Apartment room with clothes and furniture, 29-5-B, Jan 12 1945" Flash f8 1/100