Living conditions

The "assembly centers" were hastily erected quarters located throughout the West Coast at fairgrounds, racetracks and other similar facilities. Conditions at these locations were appalling. People were housed in animal stalls and barracks with communal bathrooms and mess halls. Privacy was next to nonexistent. Most families lived in a 20-by-20-foot room separated from the next "apartment" by wood partitions that did not reach the ceiling. Shortages of food and deplorable sanitation were common. Overcrowding, uncertainty, and stress created tension in the "assembly centers," even as the demoralized camp inmates tried to improve living conditions.

World War II (218)
Temporary Assembly Centers (177)
Living conditions (371)

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371 items
Notice to report to work (ddr-densho-25-78)
doc Notice to report to work (ddr-densho-25-78)
Mae Iseri received permission to work as a recreation leader at Pinedale Assembly Center.
Japanese Americans walking between barracks (ddr-densho-36-40)
img Japanese Americans walking between barracks (ddr-densho-36-40)
The Puyallup Assembly Center, also known as "Camp Harmony," was on the racetrack of the Puyallup fairgrounds. The center was open from April 28, 1942, through September 23, 1942. Most camp inmates were from Seattle, Washington. This is a view of the barracks that housed them.
Puyallup Assembly Center (ddr-densho-36-43)
img Puyallup Assembly Center (ddr-densho-36-43)
The Puyallup Assembly Center, also known as "Camp Harmony," was on the racetrack of the Puyallup fairgrounds. The center was open from April 28, 1942, through September 23, 1942. Most camp inmates came from Seattle, Washington. This is a view of the barracks that housed them.
Japanese Americans cooking (ddr-densho-36-34)
img Japanese Americans cooking (ddr-densho-36-34)
The assembly center was composed of blocks, each with its own kitchen and dining area.
Japanese American receiving lunch (ddr-densho-36-42)
img Japanese American receiving lunch (ddr-densho-36-42)
The assembly center was composed of blocks, each with its own kitchen and dining area.
Baggage arrival at assembly center (ddr-densho-36-41)
img Baggage arrival at assembly center (ddr-densho-36-41)
The Puyallup Assembly Center, also known as "Camp Harmony," was located at the Puyallup fairgrounds. The center was open from April 28, 1942, through September 23, 1942. Most camp inmates were from Seattle, Washington.
Japanese American washing clothes (ddr-densho-36-36)
img Japanese American washing clothes (ddr-densho-36-36)
The Puyallup Assembly Center was composed of a number of blocks. Each block had a communal washroom, such as the one shown here.
Barracks interior (ddr-densho-36-39)
img Barracks interior (ddr-densho-36-39)
Barracks apartments were small--approximately 8 by 10 feet or 15 by 20 feet--and offered little privacy. Japanese Americans tried hard to make the stark apartments homier. They made furniture, such as the vanity table in this redecorated barracks apartment, which was constructed by hand from scrap lumber.
Arrival at the Puyallup Assembly Center (ddr-densho-36-32)
img Arrival at the Puyallup Assembly Center (ddr-densho-36-32)
The Puyallup Assembly Center, which many camp inmates called "Camp Harmony," was on the site of the annual Western Washington Fair. The center was constructed in only seventeen days. Barracks were erected in converted livestock stalls near the parking lots and under the grandstand. Japanese Americans remained at the fairgrounds from April 28 to September 23,1942, …
Information Bulletin No. 1 (ddr-densho-320-2)
doc Information Bulletin No. 1 (ddr-densho-320-2)
Contains information about living quarters, meals, and other services in the camps.
Information Bulletin No. 1 (ddr-densho-320-1)
doc Information Bulletin No. 1 (ddr-densho-320-1)
Contains information about living quarters, meals, and other services in the camps.
Letter to Kinuta Uno at Fort Missoula (ddr-densho-324-17)
doc Letter to Kinuta Uno at Fort Missoula (ddr-densho-324-17)
Correspondence from Kinuta Uno's wife and daughter discussing life at Pinedale Assembly Center.
View of barracks (ddr-densho-151-357)
img View of barracks (ddr-densho-151-357)
Original caption: San Bruno, California. Shown here is one type of barracks for family use. These were formerly the stalls for race horses. Each family is assigned to two small rooms, the inner one with no outside door nor window. The center has been in operation about six weeks. 8,000 evacuees are now assembled here.
Japanese Americans in mess hall line (ddr-densho-151-44)
img Japanese Americans in mess hall line (ddr-densho-151-44)
Original WRA caption: San Bruno, California. View of the Tanforan Assembly Center, showing a type of barrack peculiar to the center. Also shown in part of a line-up of evacuees waiting for places in the mess hall for their noon meal.
View of barracks (ddr-densho-151-344)
img View of barracks (ddr-densho-151-344)
Original caption: San Bruno, California. This scene shows one type of barracks for family use. These were formerly the stalls for race horses. Each family is assigned to two small rooms, the inner one, of which, has no outside door nor window. The center has been in operation about six weeks and 8,000 persons of Japanese …
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