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 (367)

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367 items
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 …
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 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.
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.
Amache camp housing (ddr-densho-390-64)
img Amache camp housing (ddr-densho-390-64)
A man walks along a dirt road in front of several Amache concentration camp housing buildings.
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; …
Drawing of the south east corner of Tanforan (ddr-densho-392-23)
doc Drawing of the south east corner of Tanforan (ddr-densho-392-23)
Caption written by Kenneth Iyeki: "The scene is in the south east corner of Tanforan. Partially hidden behind trees and bushes were [?] guard posts."
Drawing from the middle of the race track at Tanforan Assembly Center (ddr-densho-392-1)
doc Drawing from the middle of the race track at Tanforan Assembly Center (ddr-densho-392-1)
Caption written by Kenneth Iyeki: "Here is another scene, skeched from the middle of the track. The striped pole in the foreground represented a furlough. 220 yards. The barrack in the scene is number 115. There were five rooms to a barrack. Five families. Separating each room were plywood walls, built half-way to the ceiling. One …
Drawing from the center of the racetrack at Tanforan Assembly Center (ddr-densho-392-24)
doc Drawing from the center of the racetrack at Tanforan Assembly Center (ddr-densho-392-24)
Caption written by Kenneth Iyeki: "Here is a scene from the center of the racetrack. I often wondered how the horses felt when pounding down the stretch with the crowd screaming like mad. The building near the center to the left is a shower room. Beyond that, underneath the grandstand is the canteen where one could …
Drawing of the inside of a shower room at Tanforan Assembly Center (ddr-densho-392-21)
doc Drawing of the inside of a shower room at Tanforan Assembly Center (ddr-densho-392-21)
Caption written by Kenneth Iyeki: "Here is a typical shower room (men's). By the time we were to be shipped to Utah, the plywood walls were warped and twisted by the constant humidity. The shwere would turn from hot to cold and from cold to hot. One often traversed the entire camp, searching for a shower …
Drawing of the latrine and barracks at Tanforan Assembly Center (ddr-densho-392-8)
doc Drawing of the latrine and barracks at Tanforan Assembly Center (ddr-densho-392-8)
Caption by Kenneth Iyeki: "A scene midway on the track length on the west side of camp. At the very end of the track to the left is the commisary warehouse. The rails were a favorite of youngsters. They would boast of having walked such and such a distance. Never heard of anyone balancing his way …
Drawing of the music school at Tanforan Assembly Center (ddr-densho-392-5)
doc Drawing of the music school at Tanforan Assembly Center (ddr-densho-392-5)
Caption written by Kenneth Iyeki: "This is the Tanforan music school which prior to evacuation served the racetrack fans as a refreshment house. At all hours, the sounds of pianos and violins would sound forth from every window. Every so often, music concerts would be held, and the edifice would be jammed every time. The [sic] …
Drawing of the latrine and barracks at Tanforan Assembly Center (ddr-densho-392-6)
doc Drawing of the latrine and barracks at Tanforan Assembly Center (ddr-densho-392-6)
Caption by Kenneth Iyeki: "This is a scene from the roof of an old stable. The latrine building which served our area [?] to the left. To the right is barrack #16 and between the two buildings is the stable where the batchelors [sic] used to sit all day and talk. Beyond the stable, partially hidden …
Drawing of the view from the top of the grandstand at Tanforan Assembly Center (ddr-densho-392-12)
doc Drawing of the view from the top of the grandstand at Tanforan Assembly Center (ddr-densho-392-12)
Caption written by Kenneth Iyeki: "This is a portion of the landscape which could be seen from the top of the grandstand across the broad highway. Somehow, it made one feel better when he climbed the long stair to sit alone and look out on the hills. It was so beautiful and such a relief from …
Drawing inside the laundry room at Tanforan Assembly Center (ddr-densho-392-25)
doc Drawing inside the laundry room at Tanforan Assembly Center (ddr-densho-392-25)
Caption written by Kenneth Iyeki: "This scene is the inside of the camp laundry which we of barracks #14, #13, and #16 used. Most of the time, there would be no hot water, and we would have to carry it from the latrines in pails, if the latrines had hot water. OVer half of the tubs …
Drawing of warehouses and the music conservatory at Tanforan Assembly Center (ddr-densho-392-17)
doc Drawing of warehouses and the music conservatory at Tanforan Assembly Center (ddr-densho-392-17)
Caption written by Kenneth Iyeki: "On the left is a warehouse, futher down is the music conservatory and finally at the end of the road is the mess mine building. We used to play on the tin roof of the warehouse. I abruptly stopped such shenanigans when an official angrily told me that a mine which …
Drawing of the latrines at Tanforan Assembly Center (ddr-densho-392-19)
doc Drawing of the latrines at Tanforan Assembly Center (ddr-densho-392-19)
Caption written by Kenneth Iyeki: "These two buildings are the latrines. There were so many people in ration to the facilities that we often was obliged to try and reach another area's latrine 'in time.' The one to the left is the women's and that to the right is the men's. The women, being women put …
Drawing of recreation hall #6 at Tanforan Assembly Center (ddr-densho-392-16)
doc Drawing of recreation hall #6 at Tanforan Assembly Center (ddr-densho-392-16)
Caption written by Kenneth Iyeki: "The barrack in the foreground was the recreation #6 building. Each area possessed its own rec hall. Competition was keen among them. From out the open window would [?] the sound of ping pong games in progress, little children screaming in laughter or just screaming, girls daring the boys to a …
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