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 (66)
Temporary Assembly Centers (91)
Living conditions (306)

306 items
Drawing of the inside of a classroom at Tanforan Assembly Center (ddr-densho-392-22)
doc Drawing of the inside of a classroom at Tanforan Assembly Center (ddr-densho-392-22)
Caption written by Kenneth Iyeki: "This is my wonderful history class (under the grandstand). The entire school was housed under one roof with no partition between classes. There wold be so much noise that one day we, weather permitting, the teachers would [?] their classes out on the grandstand where there would be less noise. The ...
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 the barracks at Tanforan Assembly Center (ddr-densho-392-13)
doc Drawing of the barracks at Tanforan Assembly Center (ddr-densho-392-13)
Caption written by Kenneth Iyeki: "This scene is the most repugnant to all the internees at Tanfo. Not the actual [?] but the odors which wafted about, especially on moonlit nights. A sewer[?] which refused to operate properly was the cause. The children who played in the gullies seemed unmindful. A few yards to the right ...
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 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 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."
Richard M. Murakami Interview Segment 5 (ddr-manz-1-161-5)
vh Richard M. Murakami Interview Segment 5 (ddr-manz-1-161-5)
Memories of "evacuation day," arriving at the Marysville Assembly Center, California
Gene Akutsu Interview Segment 2 (ddr-densho-1016-4-2)
vh Gene Akutsu Interview Segment 2 (ddr-densho-1016-4-2)
Preparing for mass removal

This material is based upon work assisted by a grant from the Department of the Interior, National Park Service. Any opinions, finding, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of the Interior.

Chizuko Iyama - Ernie Iyama Interview Segment 2 (ddr-densho-1012-5-2)
vh Chizuko Iyama - Ernie Iyama Interview Segment 2 (ddr-densho-1012-5-2)
First impressions of camp: "the camps were certainly not good for families" (audio only)

This interview is audio-only. It contains raw footage used by Steven Okazaki in his 1985 film Unfinished Business.

This material is based upon work assisted by a grant from the Department of the Interior, National Park Service. Any opinions, finding, and ...

Bob Utsumi Interview Segment 11 (ddr-densho-1013-8-11)
vh Bob Utsumi Interview Segment 11 (ddr-densho-1013-8-11)
Arrival in the Tanforan Assembly Center: recalling mother's display of emotion
George S. Matsui Segment 6 (ddr-densho-1008-2-6)
vh George S. Matsui Segment 6 (ddr-densho-1008-2-6)
Impressions of Santa Anita Assembly Center

Members of the National Japanese American Historical Society (NJAHS) arranged for and conducted this interview in conjunction with Densho.

George S. Matsui Segment 7 (ddr-densho-1008-2-7)
vh George S. Matsui Segment 7 (ddr-densho-1008-2-7)
Bad food in camp

Members of the National Japanese American Historical Society (NJAHS) arranged for and conducted this interview in conjunction with Densho.

Hisaye Yamamoto Interview Segment 6 (ddr-densho-1002-10-6)
vh Hisaye Yamamoto Interview Segment 6 (ddr-densho-1002-10-6)
Memories of mass removal; first impressions of Parker Dam Assembly Center, Arizona

This interview was conducted by sisters Emiko and Chizuko Omori for their 1999 documentary, Rabbit in the Moon, about the Japanese American resisters of conscience in the World War II incarceration camps. As a result, the interviews in this collection are typically not ...

Mits Koshiyama Interview Segment 3 (ddr-densho-1002-6-3)
vh Mits Koshiyama Interview Segment 3 (ddr-densho-1002-6-3)
Memories of Santa Anita Assembly Center: feeling "confused and dumbfounded"

This interview was conducted by sisters Emiko and Chizuko Omori for their 1999 documentary, Rabbit in the Moon, about the Japanese American resisters of conscience in the World War II incarceration camps. As a result, the interviews in this collection are typically not life histories, ...

Jim Hirabayashi Interview Segment 9 (ddr-densho-1002-5-9)
vh Jim Hirabayashi Interview Segment 9 (ddr-densho-1002-5-9)
Memories of Pinedale Assembly Center: playing sports, attending school

This interview was conducted by sisters Emiko and Chizuko Omori for their 1999 documentary, Rabbit in the Moon, about the Japanese American resisters of conscience in the World War II incarceration camps. As a result, the interviews in this collection are typically not life histories, instead ...

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