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 (216)
Temporary Assembly Centers (177)
Living conditions (363)

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363 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, …
Japanese Americans eating in a mess hall (ddr-densho-37-482)
img Japanese Americans eating in a mess hall (ddr-densho-37-482)
Original WRA caption: Arcadia, California. Meal time, cafeteria-style, for these children at Santa Anita assembly center for evacuees of Japanese ancestry.
Heart Mountain concentration camp, Wyoming (ddr-densho-37-796)
img Heart Mountain concentration camp, Wyoming (ddr-densho-37-796)
Original WRA caption: Heart Mountain Relocation Center, Heart Mountain, Wyoming. Looking west over the Heart Mountain Relocation Center with its sentry name sake, Heart Mountain, on the horizon.
Japanese American inside barracks (ddr-densho-37-485)
img Japanese American inside barracks (ddr-densho-37-485)
Original WRA caption: Salinas Assembly Center, Salinas, California. Barracks interior at assembly center where persons of Japanese ancestry lived temporarily after evacuation from the west coast in the spring of 1942.
Salinas Assembly Center (ddr-densho-37-576)
img Salinas Assembly Center (ddr-densho-37-576)
Original WRA caption: Salinas Assembly Center, California. Panorama of Salinas Assembly center. Persons of Japanese ancestry evacuated from coastal areas were held first in assembly centers before being assigned to relocation centers further inland.
Japanese Americans serving food (ddr-densho-37-484)
img Japanese Americans serving food (ddr-densho-37-484)
Original WRA caption: Arcadia, California. Cafeteria-style assures promptness in serving meals at Santa Anita assembly center for evacuees of Japanese ancestry. Evacuees are transferred later to War Relocation Authority centers for the duration.
Assembly center check-in (ddr-densho-37-584)
img Assembly center check-in (ddr-densho-37-584)
Original WRA caption: Salinas, California. Seated in family groups, evacuees of Japanese ancestry check in at Armory before moving into the Salinas Assembly Center. They will later be transferred to War Relocation Authority centers for the duration.
Japanese Americans out on a walk (ddr-densho-37-582)
img Japanese Americans out on a walk (ddr-densho-37-582)
Original WRA caption: Salinas, California. Evacuee girls out for a stroll at the Salinas Assembly center.
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