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 (231)
Temporary Assembly Centers (231)
Living conditions (395)

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395 items
Drawing of barracks 16, apartment 28 at Tanforan Assembly Center (ddr-densho-392-15)
doc Drawing of barracks 16, apartment 28 at Tanforan Assembly Center (ddr-densho-392-15)
Caption written by Kenneth Iyeki: "Barrack 16, apartment 28 where the Iyeki's resided in a palatial horse stable. The balcony which was the only one of its kind in camp proved very useful. The little door under the porch when swung open would reveal many beer and whiskey bottles strewn all over the wet earth. The …
Drawing of the laundry buildings at Tanforan Assembly Center (ddr-densho-392-10)
doc Drawing of the laundry buildings at Tanforan Assembly Center (ddr-densho-392-10)
Caption written by Kenneth Iyeki: "These are the laundry buildings from which all the internees left for Topaz, Utah. As the time for the trip to Utah neared, fences were put up around these three makeshift structures and people were leaving the camp every day like herds of cattle."
Drawing of the south side of Tanforan Assembly Center (ddr-densho-392-3)
doc Drawing of the south side of Tanforan Assembly Center (ddr-densho-392-3)
Caption written by Kenneth Iyeki: "This is a scene on the south side of Tanforan. The eucalyptus trees were always green, a factor which helped to keep our morale up. The green houses in the background were the better stables, on the opposite side of the track from the 'common' planked horse shelters. These that were …
Drawing of barracks 16 at Tanforan Assembly Center (ddr-densho-392-4)
doc Drawing of barracks 16 at Tanforan Assembly Center (ddr-densho-392-4)
Caption written by Kenneth Iyeki: "This # barrack 16 served as our dwelling during the months spent at Tanforan. During our stay, peculiar odors persisted, reminding us of horse manure. We lived in the end apartment. The balcony came in very handy as we had an excellent view. All day long evacuees would be scurrying back …
Drawing of the script books building at Tanforan Assembly Center (ddr-densho-392-20)
doc Drawing of the script books building at Tanforan Assembly Center (ddr-densho-392-20)
Caption written by Kenneth Iyeki: "This is where the script books were sold, and where they were distributed free. If anyone wanted extras, they would have to pay for them. Cash was not used in in the center."
Drawing of the military camp at Tanforan Assembly Center (ddr-densho-392-7)
doc Drawing of the military camp at Tanforan Assembly Center (ddr-densho-392-7)
Caption by Kenneth Iyeki: "After drawing this picture of the military camp in the south-west corner of Tanforan, I found that such pictures were prohibited. The soldiers in this camp were all swell fellows, and when on guard duty, were as amicable as could be. Along the fence, the soldiers would play horseshoes, and wash the …
Drawing of the San Francisco sign on the hills outside of Tanforan Assembly Center (ddr-densho-392-9)
doc Drawing of the San Francisco sign on the hills outside of Tanforan Assembly Center (ddr-densho-392-9)
Caption written by Kenneth Iyeki: "This is a scene drawn from the porch where my cousins lived. The huge sign up on the [?] hills were late blacked out as a precaution against possible air raids. Out over the fence about a mile along can be seen the old dog race grounds. The huge wooden grandstand …
Drawing of the northwest corner Tanforan Assembly Center (ddr-densho-392-2)
doc Drawing of the northwest corner Tanforan Assembly Center (ddr-densho-392-2)
Caption written by Kenneth Iyeki: "This is the north west corner of camp. Beyond the two green tankers, concealed in the trees was a cleverly hidden guard post. Beyond the fence lay the highway. People used to come roaring up, then slam[?] their cars close to satisfy their curiosity. Some waived, some smiled, some frowned, and …
Drawing of Mess Hall #8 at Tanforan Assembly Center (ddr-densho-392-26)
doc Drawing of Mess Hall #8 at Tanforan Assembly Center (ddr-densho-392-26)
Caption written by Kenneth Iyeki: "This is the mess hall which served our area. The trees in the background served as a fringe to the race track. Hiding views of possible distaste from those watching the show. The tired looking stove pipes belched forth black soot all the day long. I was amazed at the 'variety; …
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.
American Concentration Camps VOLUME 6 June, 1942- December, 1942 (ddr-densho-372-6)
doc American Concentration Camps VOLUME 6 June, 1942- December, 1942 (ddr-densho-372-6)
Volume 6 divides into six sections. Description about this volume reads directly from the book as follows: Section 1 presents archival documents from June 1942 that show the first major modifications of relocation policies and depict the resistance by Western Defense Command to any amelioration of the condition of the Japanese Americans. Section 2 contains selected …
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.
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 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.
Letter from Nobutaka (probably Nobuko Yanagimachi) to Tamako Inouye (ddr-densho-383-556)
doc Letter from Nobutaka (probably Nobuko Yanagimachi) to Tamako Inouye (ddr-densho-383-556)
Re: conditions at Camp Harmony. Nobuko Yanagimachi was a fellow UW student and member of Fuyo-Kai
Letter from Bill to Tama (ddr-densho-383-543)
doc Letter from Bill to Tama (ddr-densho-383-543)
Dated "2nd Night", describing living conditions at Camp Harmony
Memo to assembly center managers on clothing allotment procedure (ddr-densho-356-781)
doc Memo to assembly center managers on clothing allotment procedure (ddr-densho-356-781)
Memo to all Assembly Center Mangers from R. L. Nicholson, Chief, Reception Center on the procedure for the purchasing of clothing for evacuees.
Clothing Issuance (ddr-densho-356-797)
doc Clothing Issuance (ddr-densho-356-797)
Information from Santa Anita Assembly Center on clothing allotments and issuing.
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