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 (954)

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

947 items
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
Evacuation and resettlement study, structural report, section II: the first six months at Tule Lake: social changes and a chronology of events (ddr-csujad-26-4)
doc Evacuation and resettlement study, structural report, section II: the first six months at Tule Lake: social changes and a chronology of events (ddr-csujad-26-4)
Report chronicling the first six months Tule Lake camp including the establishment of community activities, employment, schools, and barracks infrastructure. Describes challenges of adjusting to life in camp often using direct quotations from incarcerees to express struggles amid social and cultural groups as well as conflicts and strikes. Several events are also described including a description ...
Large group photo (ddr-csujad-26-143)
img Large group photo (ddr-csujad-26-143)
Photo of a large group of Japanese Americans and Caucasian men and women pose in front of a barracks building with a baby and a dog. From photo album of Robert Billigmeier. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: mei_05_116
Tule Lake recreation center community affairs report for the period August 20, 1942 to September 20, 1942 (ddr-csujad-26-11)
doc Tule Lake recreation center community affairs report for the period August 20, 1942 to September 20, 1942 (ddr-csujad-26-11)
Summary of community youth recreation activities at Tule Lake before school began including descriptions of administration, leadership and training, the "Community Activities Commission," advisory board, planning board, staff, organization, and activities. Report compiled as a portion of the Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Study (JERS). See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization ...
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.
Mollie Nakasaki Interview Segment 13 (ddr-jamsj-2-4-13)
vh Mollie Nakasaki Interview Segment 13 (ddr-jamsj-2-4-13)
Conditions at Poston concentration camp: heat, lack of privacy

This interview was conducted by the Japanese American Museum of San Jose, and is part of a project entitled "Lasting Stories: The Resettlement of San Jose Japantown," a collaborative project between the Japanese American Museum of San Jose and Densho.

Japanese Americans washing dishes (ddr-densho-15-74)
img Japanese Americans washing dishes (ddr-densho-15-74)
Issei washing dishes inside the camp's warehouse kitchen.
Muddy conditions (ddr-densho-37-350)
img Muddy conditions (ddr-densho-37-350)
Original WRA caption: Tule Lake Relocation Center, Newell, California. Thaws turn the streets and firebreaks into seas of mud, and makes difficult motor transportation through the center.
Japanese American children in a victory garden (ddr-densho-37-781)
img Japanese American children in a victory garden (ddr-densho-37-781)
Original WRA caption: Granada Relocation Center, Amache, Colorado. Fourth grade children weeding their victory garden.
Children walking in an concentration camp (ddr-densho-37-802)
img Children walking in an concentration camp (ddr-densho-37-802)
Original WRA caption: Jerome Relocation Center, Dermott, Arkansas. Young children at Jerome Relocation Center.
View of barracks (ddr-densho-37-171)
img View of barracks (ddr-densho-37-171)
Original WRA caption: View of barracks looking east down the main fire break.
Japanese American workers waiting in line (ddr-densho-37-421)
img Japanese American workers waiting in line (ddr-densho-37-421)
Original WRA caption: Tule Lake Relocation Center, Newell, California. A line up of evacuee workers waiting for their identification tags which are to be used in conjunction with the first pay day at this War Relocation Authority Center.
Vacant barracks (ddr-densho-37-827)
img Vacant barracks (ddr-densho-37-827)
Original WRA caption: Poston, Arizona. Some of the "blocks" which were vacated earlier, are already dropping to pieces as shown here. The barracks were of cheap construction, rough lumber, and tar paper and few people thought that they would be occupied for three years. Units II and III of the Colorado River Relocation center, Poston, Arizona ...
Japanese Americans in front of remodeled barrack (ddr-densho-37-51)
img Japanese Americans in front of remodeled barrack (ddr-densho-37-51)
Japanese Americans tried to make camp life more tolerable in many creative ways, such as renovating their barracks.
Topaz concentration camp, Utah (ddr-densho-37-833)
img Topaz concentration camp, Utah (ddr-densho-37-833)
Original WRA caption: Topaz, Utah. A typical barracks group with a section of the Topaz Relocation Center.
Japanese Americans filling straw mattresses (ddr-densho-37-403)
img Japanese Americans filling straw mattresses (ddr-densho-37-403)
Original WRA caption: Poston, Arizona. Evacuees of Japanese ancestry are filling straw ticks for mattresses upon arrival at this war Relocation Authority Center.
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