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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 (215)
Temporary Assembly Centers (175)
Living conditions (364)


Facilities
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364 items
Letter from June Harino to Rev. Miller, 1942 June 9 (ddr-csujad-20-20)
doc Letter from June Harino to Rev. Miller, 1942 June 9 (ddr-csujad-20-20)
A letter sent to Mr. Wendell L. Miller. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: WLM_01-46_20
Letter from Lester Suzuki to Brother [Wendell L.] Miller, May 4, 1942 (ddr-csujad-20-3)
doc Letter from Lester Suzuki to Brother [Wendell L.] Miller, May 4, 1942 (ddr-csujad-20-3)
Personal letter written from the Santa Anita Temporary Assembly Center and describing early days there, including lack of regular work and schooling schedules and of appropriate food for children; scouts and boys' clubs being in development; religious services on Sundays attracting nearly 2000 people; and the need to wait for community facilities such as laundry and …
Letter from T. Takahashi and Family to Rev. Wendell L. Miller, May 14, 1942 (ddr-csujad-20-5)
doc Letter from T. Takahashi and Family to Rev. Wendell L. Miller, May 14, 1942 (ddr-csujad-20-5)
Personal letter written from the Santa Anita Assembly Center; thanks Miller for his "kind treatment and wonderful assistance in our evacuation" and mentions that his or her mother is now recovering with them after suffering from worry and tiredness. Takahashi states that their life was previously too materialistic, and that this is a "God-given opportunity ... …
Letter from George K. Sakai,  1942 May 4 (ddr-csujad-20-14)
doc Letter from George K. Sakai, 1942 May 4 (ddr-csujad-20-14)
Letter from George Sakai to United Methodist Church regarding address information for a mutual friend. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: WLM_01-46_13
Comic Strip, 1943 December 26 (ddr-csujad-20-12)
doc Comic Strip, 1943 December 26 (ddr-csujad-20-12)
Clipped comic strip of "Little Joe." See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: WLM_01-45_02
Letter from Mrs. L. [Lester] Suzuki to Rev. [Wendell L.] and Mrs. [?] Miller, May 5, 1942 (ddr-csujad-20-4)
doc Letter from Mrs. L. [Lester] Suzuki to Rev. [Wendell L.] and Mrs. [?] Miller, May 5, 1942 (ddr-csujad-20-4)
Personal letter written from the Santa Anita Assembly Center. Suzuki thanks Reverend Miller and Mrs. Miller for their kindness; mentions friends among the "dear Caucasian ministers such as you"; and discusses the importance of religious services, housing in a new barrack vs. in the stables, making furniture from scrap wood, an impending increase in number of …
News Clippings (ddr-csujad-20-24)
doc News Clippings (ddr-csujad-20-24)
Newspaper clippings, circa 1942. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: WLM_01-45_01
Postcard from Anna Brooks, 1942 June 8 (ddr-csujad-20-23)
doc Postcard from Anna Brooks, 1942 June 8 (ddr-csujad-20-23)
Postcard from Anna Brooks regarding Leila Hofstetter. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: WLM_01-46_12
Letter from L.W., circa 1942 (ddr-csujad-20-25)
doc Letter from L.W., circa 1942 (ddr-csujad-20-25)
A letter from L.W. Addressee is not known. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: WLM_01-44_04
Letter from Rose Tani to Rev. Miller, 1942 May 10 (ddr-csujad-20-17)
doc Letter from Rose Tani to Rev. Miller, 1942 May 10 (ddr-csujad-20-17)
Vociferous indictment of the Ladies aid of the Methodist Church for holding a luncheon picnic for "Japanese leaving Santa Anita," and similar efforts, stating that such overtures to "entertain enemies of their native land" are "traitor[ous]" and "disgrace the good sense of American woman hood." See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization …
Letter to Wendell L. Miller, 1942 April 27 (ddr-csujad-20-21)
doc Letter to Wendell L. Miller, 1942 April 27 (ddr-csujad-20-21)
An angry letter sent to Mr. Wendell L. Miller. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: WLM_01-44_03
Cherry Kinoshita Segment 8 (ddr-densho-1000-34-8)
vh Cherry Kinoshita Segment 8 (ddr-densho-1000-34-8)
Early memories of Puyallup Assembly Center: poor meals, primitive latrines, and guard towers
Lois Shikami Interview Segment 5 (ddr-chi-1-8-5)
vh Lois Shikami Interview Segment 5 (ddr-chi-1-8-5)
Arrival at the Puyallup Assembly Center: "It was a shock"
Toyoko Okumura Interview Segment 10 (ddr-janm-13-6-10)
vh Toyoko Okumura Interview Segment 10 (ddr-janm-13-6-10)
Terrible conditions upon arrival at Santa Anita Assembly Center: "I thought we were coming to an end"
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.

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.

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
Tatsukichi Moritani Interview Segment 9 (ddr-densho-1001-2-9)
vh Tatsukichi Moritani Interview Segment 9 (ddr-densho-1001-2-9)
First sight of Manzanar concentration camp: "sure is a desolate-looking place"
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, …

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