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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
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 ...
Nisei inside barracks (ddr-densho-151-276)
img Nisei inside barracks (ddr-densho-151-276)
Original caption: Sacramento, California. Harvey Akio Itano, 21, 1942 graduate from the University of California where he received his Bachelor of Science [in] Chemistry degree. He was chosen by the faculty as University Medalist for 1942 and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi. Mr. Itano went to the Assembly center prior to ...
Assembly center barracks (ddr-densho-151-19)
img Assembly center barracks (ddr-densho-151-19)
Original WRA caption: Tanforan Assembly center, San Bruno, California. Barracks for family living quarters. Each door enters into a family unit of two small rooms. Tanforan assembly center was opened two days before the photograph was made. On the first day there had been a heavy rain. When a family has arrived here, first step of ...
Japanese Americans inside barracks (ddr-densho-151-330)
img Japanese Americans inside barracks (ddr-densho-151-330)
Original caption: San Bruno, California. Old Mr. Konda in barrack apartment, after supper. He lives here with his two sons, his married daughter and her husband. They share two small rooms together. His daughter is seen behind him, knitting. He has been a truck farmer and raised his family who are also farmers, in Centerville, Alameda ...
Assembly center barracks (ddr-densho-151-74)
img Assembly center barracks (ddr-densho-151-74)
Original WRA caption: Sacramento, California. View of barracks in block 2 during first week of occupancy of this Center. The entire Japanese population of the City of Sacramento are now here. The space under the trees seen in the background is reserved for the use of mothers and young children.
Horse stall at the Tanforan Assembly Center (ddr-densho-151-20)
img Horse stall at the Tanforan Assembly Center (ddr-densho-151-20)
Original WRA caption: San Bruno, California. A near- view of a horse stall left from days when what is now Tanforan Assembly center, was the famous Tanforan Race Track. Most of these stalls have been converted into family living quarters for evacuated Japanese.
View of barracks and mess hall (ddr-densho-151-345)
img View of barracks and mess hall (ddr-densho-151-345)
Original caption: San Bruno, California. Another view of barracks at the Tanforan Assembly center, after approximately six weeks of occupancy. The building on the right is one of the eighteen such mess halls which, together, accommodate approximately 8,000 persons for three meals each day.
Sacramento Assembly Center, California (ddr-densho-151-75)
img Sacramento Assembly Center, California (ddr-densho-151-75)
Original WRA caption: Sacramento, California. This Center has been open for about a week. It has a capacity for 5000 persons. The people seen walking across the field toward the barracks are mothers and children of Japanese ancestry who have been in the playground and are coming back to the messhall for lunch.
Woman and children outside barracks (ddr-densho-151-73)
img Woman and children outside barracks (ddr-densho-151-73)
Original WRA caption: Stockton, California. This family just arrived in the Stockton center this morning. The mother and the children wait at the door of the room in the barracks to which they have been assigned, while the father is at the baggage depot where the bedding and clothing are being unloaded and inspected for contraband.
Baggage inspection (ddr-densho-151-29)
img Baggage inspection (ddr-densho-151-29)
Original WRA caption: Stockton, California. Hand baggage is being inspected for contraband upon the arrival of evacuees of Japanese ancestry to this Assembly Center.
Assembly center new arrivals standing in lines (ddr-densho-151-60)
img Assembly center new arrivals standing in lines (ddr-densho-151-60)
Original WRA caption: San Bruno, California. This assembly center has been open for two days. Bus-load after bus-load of evacuated persons of Japanese ancestry are arriving on this day after going through the necessary procedures, they are guided to the quarters assigned to them in the barracks. Only one mess hall was operating today. Photograph shows ...
Assembly center barracks (ddr-densho-151-25)
img Assembly center barracks (ddr-densho-151-25)
Original WRA caption: San Bruno, California. Barracks for family living quarters. Each door enters into a family unit of two small rooms. Tanforan Center was opened two days before this photo was made. The truck seen coming down the dirt road is bringing bed-rolls and baggage to evacuees who have just arrived and are occupying these ...
Assembly center new arrivals (ddr-densho-151-4)
img Assembly center new arrivals (ddr-densho-151-4)
Original WRA caption: Stockton, California. Noon on a hot day at the Stockton Assembly center, which is a converted fairgrounds. This group of people on the race track are new arrivals who have been registered, inspected, medically examined, and are now on their way to their assigned places in the barracks.
Racetrack at Stockton Assembly Center (ddr-densho-151-28)
img Racetrack at Stockton Assembly Center (ddr-densho-151-28)
Original WRA caption: Stockton, California. Noon on a hot day at the Stockton Assembly Center, which is a converted fairgrounds. This photograph shows the old race track. This center has been opened a week and evacuees will arrive daily until the capacity of 5000 is reached.
Baggage inspection (ddr-densho-151-8)
img Baggage inspection (ddr-densho-151-8)
Original WRA caption: Turlock, California. Baggage is inspected as families arrive at Turlock assembly center. Evacuees of Japanese ancestry will be transferred later to War Relocation Authority centers where they will spend the duration.
Nisei friends inside barracks (ddr-densho-151-460)
img Nisei friends inside barracks (ddr-densho-151-460)
Original caption: Sacramento, California. Masamichi Suzuki, and Bill Sugiyama, roommates of Harey Itano, at the Assembly center. Both boys have attended the University of California and Mr. Sugiyama was accepted by the University of California Medical School prior to evacuation, but is now unable to attend.
Remodeled horse stalls (ddr-densho-151-59)
img Remodeled horse stalls (ddr-densho-151-59)
Original WRA caption: San Bruno, California. This center is a converted race track. Here are shown what were horsestalls remodeled into living quarters for families. Photograph was made at noon on the third day after the center had been opened.
Assembly center new arrivals (ddr-densho-151-6)
img Assembly center new arrivals (ddr-densho-151-6)
Original WRA caption: Stockton, California. Arrival at Assembly center at 12:45 pm. This assembly center has been open for one week. This group was evacuated from their homes in the Lodi district (grape area) this morning. Their identification numbers and family groups are checked by officials as they get off the bus. They are then directed ...
View of barracks (ddr-densho-151-350)
img View of barracks (ddr-densho-151-350)
Original caption: San Bruno, California. Looking down one of the avenues between rows of barracks. The ones on the right are converted horse stalls, and those on the left are newly constructed and typical of an assembly center and relocation centers throughout the west. They are 100 feet long, covered with black tar paper, contain five ...
Japanese American in front of barracks home (ddr-densho-151-47)
img Japanese American in front of barracks home (ddr-densho-151-47)
Original WRA caption: San Bruno, Calfiornia. This assembly center has been opened for two days. Busload after busload of evacuated Japanese are arriving this day. After going through the necessary procedures, they are guided to the quarters assigned to them in the barracks. This family newly arrived, are in the process of settling down. The old ...
View of barracks (ddr-densho-151-346)
img View of barracks (ddr-densho-151-346)
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 for about six weeks. 8,000 evacuees are now assembled here.
Mother and children outside of barracks (ddr-densho-151-258)
img Mother and children outside of barracks (ddr-densho-151-258)
Original caption: Stockton, California. This family of Japanese ancestry has just arrived in the center this morning. The mother and the children are waiting at the door of the room in the barracks to which they have been assigned. The father is at the baggage depot where their bedding and clothing are unloaded and inspected for ...
Assembly center gate (ddr-densho-151-56)
img Assembly center gate (ddr-densho-151-56)
Original WRA caption: San Bruno, California. A sign at the main entrance of the Tanforan Assembly center, through which all traffic passes. The gate is guarded and controlled by United States soldiers.
Bedding and clothing in front of barracks (ddr-densho-151-456)
img Bedding and clothing in front of barracks (ddr-densho-151-456)
Original caption: San Bruno, California. This assembly center has been open for two days. Bus- load after bus-load of evacuated Japanese are arriving today. After going through the necessary procedure, they are guided to the quarters assigned to them in the barracks. This family had just arrived. Their bedding and clothing have been delivered by truck ...
View of barracks (ddr-densho-151-336)
img View of barracks (ddr-densho-151-336)
Original caption: San Bruno, California. A close-up of the exterior of a family unit. These barracks were formerly horse-stalls. Each family is assigned two small rooms. The interior one has neither outside door nor window.
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