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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 (54)
Temporary Assembly Centers (88)
Living conditions (280)

280 items
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.
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.
Japanese Americans meet in an assembly center (ddr-densho-37-583)
img Japanese Americans meet in an assembly center (ddr-densho-37-583)
Original WRA caption: Salinas, California. Members of two evacuee families of Japanese ancestry meet at this assembly center located on the Salinas Rodeo grounds. These people will be transferred later to a War Relocation Authority center.
Barracks interior (ddr-densho-37-578)
img Barracks interior (ddr-densho-37-578)
Original WRA caption: Salinas Assembly Center, Salinas, California. Evacuees of Japanese descent enjoy a moment of relaxation before setting up housekeeping at this assembly center. They will be transferred to War Relocation Authority centers for the duration.
Newspaper clipping
doc Newspaper clipping "Tanforan, 1942" (ddr-janm-4-42)
Newspaper clipping titled "Tanforan, 1942". The article was written by Soji Kashiwagi on December 17, 1984.
Information sheet about the Tanforan Racetrack/Detention Center (ddr-janm-4-22)
doc Information sheet about the Tanforan Racetrack/Detention Center (ddr-janm-4-22)
Information sheet about the history of the Tanforan Racetrack/Detention Center.
Newspaper clipping
doc Newspaper clipping "Tanforan Assembly Center Plaque Dedication" (ddr-janm-4-43)
Newspaper clipping titled "Tanforan Assembly Center Plaque Dedication". The article was written by J.K. Yamamoto on September 25, 1991 for the Hokubei Mainichi newspaper.
Letter to Molly Wilson from Chiyeko Akahoshi (May 9, 1942) (ddr-janm-1-101)
doc Letter to Molly Wilson from Chiyeko Akahoshi (May 9, 1942) (ddr-janm-1-101)
Handwritten letter to Molly Wilson from Chiyeko Akahoshi (May 9, 1942) from the Owens Valley Assembly Center in Manzanar, California.
Postcard to Molly Wilson from Haruko Nagahiro (May 20, 1942) (ddr-janm-1-53)
doc Postcard to Molly Wilson from Haruko Nagahiro (May 20, 1942) (ddr-janm-1-53)
Postcard to Molly Wilson from Haruko Nagahiro (May 20, 1942). It is postmarked May 20, 1942 from the Pomona Assembly Center in Pomona, California.
Letter (with envelope) to Molly Wilson from June Yoshigai (May 30, 1942) (ddr-janm-1-84)
doc Letter (with envelope) to Molly Wilson from June Yoshigai (May 30, 1942) (ddr-janm-1-84)
Handwritten letter to Molly Wilson from June Yoshigai (May 30, 1942). Envelope is postmarked but does not give a date from Chicago, Illinois.
Letter (with envelope) to Molly Wilson from Sandie Saito (June 3, 1942) (ddr-janm-1-7)
doc Letter (with envelope) to Molly Wilson from Sandie Saito (June 3, 1942) (ddr-janm-1-7)
Handwritten letter to Molly Wilson from Sandie Saito (June 3, 1942). Postmarked June 5, 1942 from the Santa Anita Assembly Center in Arcadia, California.
Letter to Molly Wilson from Chiyeko Akahoshi (April 28, 1942) (ddr-janm-1-100)
doc Letter to Molly Wilson from Chiyeko Akahoshi (April 28, 1942) (ddr-janm-1-100)
Handwritten letter to Molly Wilson from Chiyeko Akahoshi (April 28, 1942) from the Owens Valley Assembly Center in Manzanar, California.
Letter to Molly Wilson from Sandie Saito (May 2, 1942) (ddr-janm-1-8)
doc Letter to Molly Wilson from Sandie Saito (May 2, 1942) (ddr-janm-1-8)
Handwritten letter to Molly Wilson from Sandie Saito (May 2, 1942) from the Santa Anita Assembly Center in Arcadia, California. Letter has return address in the upper left hand corner but not stamped nor postmarked.
Letter (with envelope) to Molly Wilson from Sandie Saito (July 8, 1942) (ddr-janm-1-10)
doc Letter (with envelope) to Molly Wilson from Sandie Saito (July 8, 1942) (ddr-janm-1-10)
Handwritten letter to Molly Wilson from Sandie Saito (July 8, 1942). Envelope is postmarked July 8, 1942 from the Santa Anita Assembly Center in Arcadia, California.
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.
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