Living conditions

All of the camps were constructed according to the War Department's specifications, which included barbed-wire fences, guard towers, and armed guards around the perimeter. The camps were organized in "blocks" consisting of twelve to fourteen barracks, a mess hall, communal showers and toilets, laundry facilities, and a recreation hall. Each barracks was divided into four or six rooms with each room housing one family, no matter how large, and there was no running water. The furnishings that Japanese Americans found on their arrival were canvas cots, a potbellied stove, and a single bare light bulb. The thin walls offered little protection from the harsh weather, which ranged from 110 degrees in the summer to 25 degrees below zero on winter nights. The flimsy construction allowed no privacy and made normal family life difficult. Camp inmates improved their own living conditions by creating interior walls and partitions, constructing furniture from scrap lumber, and planting gardens.

World War II (231)
Concentration camps (1434)
Living conditions (1750)

Related articles from the Densho Encyclopedia :
Arts and crafts in camp, Community analysts, Manzanar Children's Village

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1750 items
Photograph of the rock pond at block 24 between barracks 5 and 6 (ddr-csujad-47-2)
img Photograph of the rock pond at block 24 between barracks 5 and 6 (ddr-csujad-47-2)
Photograph of rock pond, block 24, between barracks 5 and 6, circa 1940s, "a view of the garden strip arranged by William Katsuki, former landscape gardener from Southern California, alongside his home in the barracks at this War Relocation Authority center for evacuees of Japanese ancestry." See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American …
Photograph of Lucy Adams and Dagmar Quarnstrom sitting on the grass in front of staff housing at Manzanar (ddr-csujad-47-171)
img Photograph of Lucy Adams and Dagmar Quarnstrom sitting on the grass in front of staff housing at Manzanar (ddr-csujad-47-171)
Photograph of Lucy Adams and Dagmar Quarnstrom sitting on the grass in front of staff housing at Manzanar incarceration camp. Lucy is out of focus. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: ecm_merritt_0297
Photograph of Anita Nicolaus at Manzanar (ddr-csujad-47-179)
img Photograph of Anita Nicolaus at Manzanar (ddr-csujad-47-179)
Photograph of Anita Nicolaus standing in snow in front of two administrative buildings at Manzanar incarceration camp. She is wearing a heavy coat and holding a purse. Two cars can be seen in the background, behind are the snow-covered Sierra Nevada. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: ecm_merritt_0305
Photograph of barracks at Manzanar (ddr-csujad-47-338)
img Photograph of barracks at Manzanar (ddr-csujad-47-338)
Photograph of several barracks and the cleared ground in front of them at Manzanar incarceration camp. Snow covered mountains can be seen in the background. A bare tree is visible in the foreground. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: ecm_merritt_0497
Photograph of mobile structures and trailers (ddr-csujad-47-331)
img Photograph of mobile structures and trailers (ddr-csujad-47-331)
Photograph of a temporary structure and a large trailer in front of barracks at Manzanar incarceration camp. Two men are walking between the structures. In the foreground there is a clothes pole. The photograph is slightly out of focus. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: ecm_merritt_0490
Photograph of snow-covered Manzanar street with barracks on both sides (ddr-csujad-47-53)
img Photograph of snow-covered Manzanar street with barracks on both sides (ddr-csujad-47-53)
Photograph of snow-covered Manzanar street with barracks on both sides after the storm has passed. The snow-covered Mount Williamson can be seen in the background with all of the camp covered in snow as well. Tracks from vehicles can be seen in the snow, and a few people can be seen walking in the distance. See …
Photograph of Melva and Aksel G. Nielsen in front of staff housing (ddr-csujad-47-166)
img Photograph of Melva and Aksel G. Nielsen in front of staff housing (ddr-csujad-47-166)
Photograph of Melva and Aksel G. Nielsen in front of staff housing at the Manzananr Incarceration Camp. They are leaning against the fence of an outdoor patio area. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: ecm_merritt_0292
Photograph of a group of people sitting on rocks in the Sierra Nevada (ddr-csujad-47-297)
img Photograph of a group of people sitting on rocks in the Sierra Nevada (ddr-csujad-47-297)
Photograph of a group of people sitting on rocks in the Sierra Nevada near the Manzanar incarceration camp. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: ecm_merritt_0446
Photograph of an elderly man posing next to a car near the Manzanar hospital (ddr-csujad-47-259)
img Photograph of an elderly man posing next to a car near the Manzanar hospital (ddr-csujad-47-259)
Photograph of a man standing next a car while resting his hand on it at Manzanar incarceration camp. Behind him the hospital garden and building are visible. The car is a WRA vehicle with license plate, "US WRA M123." See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: ecm_merritt_0407
Photograph of snow falling at Manzanar (ddr-csujad-47-157)
img Photograph of snow falling at Manzanar (ddr-csujad-47-157)
Photograph of staff quarters and administrative buildings at Manzanar incarceration camp during a snow storm on Sunday, February 20, 1944. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: ecm_merritt_0273
Photograph of Manzanar staff housing (ddr-csujad-47-341)
img Photograph of Manzanar staff housing (ddr-csujad-47-341)
Photograph of staff housing at Manzanar incarceration camp. Pete Merrit can be seen entering the second apartment from the right. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: ecm_merritt_0500
Photograph of a group of people holding snow balls on the side of a mountain with a snowman (ddr-csujad-47-295)
img Photograph of a group of people holding snow balls on the side of a mountain with a snowman (ddr-csujad-47-295)
Photograph of a group of people holding snow balls on the side of a mountain with a snowman near the Manzanar incarceration camp. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: ecm_merritt_0444
Photograph of Manzanar with mountains in the background (ddr-csujad-47-339)
img Photograph of Manzanar with mountains in the background (ddr-csujad-47-339)
Photograph of Manzanar incarceration camp taken from a guard tower looking toward the Sierra Nevada mountains. The staff housing and administrative buildings visible along with several cars. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: ecm_merritt_0498
Photograph of a side road facing the Sierra Nevada with barracks on the side (ddr-csujad-47-343)
img Photograph of a side road facing the Sierra Nevada with barracks on the side (ddr-csujad-47-343)
Photograph of a dirt road facing the snow-covered Sierra Nevada at Manzanar incarceration camp. Several buildings are visible on the right side. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: ecm_merritt_0502
Manzanar session of the Inyo and Mono counties (ddr-csujad-48-49)
doc Manzanar session of the Inyo and Mono counties (ddr-csujad-48-49)
Public outreach brochure for Manzanar Session of the Inyo and Mono Counties; the front page contains a stylized print of the barracks with a tree in front (possibly a wood-cut or etching). Contains a program for a visit to Manzanar and anecdotal information and facts regarding the incarceration camp and the people within. Transcription is found …
Manzanar from the inside (ddr-csujad-48-62)
doc Manzanar from the inside (ddr-csujad-48-62)
Text of address by Roy Nash, Director of the Manzanar War Relocation Project, given to the Commonwealth Club of California, San Francisco, on July 31, 1942 for the purpose of "interpret[ing] the actuality of a War Relocation Center housing 10,000 evacuees" in view of perceptions of mistreatment of incarcerees in California. Sections of the speech include …
[High school graduation] (ddr-csujad-5-46)
img [High school graduation] (ddr-csujad-5-46)
A group photograph of the incarcerees standing in front of a barrack, 27-12-D, in the Rohwer incarceration camp, Arkansas. It appears to be taken during the high school graduation ceremony. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: oki_01_05_032
Ishii family; Frank, Hisa, Frances, Kiyo (ddr-csujad-50-4)
img Ishii family; Frank, Hisa, Frances, Kiyo (ddr-csujad-50-4)
The Ishii family, parents Frank and Hisa, daughters Frances and Kiyo, standing in front of a building at Jerome camp labeled "3-07-D." See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: hslb_ish_0004
Nisei men gathered in front of barracks at Manzanar (ddr-csujad-52-7)
img Nisei men gathered in front of barracks at Manzanar (ddr-csujad-52-7)
A group of men in front of barracks at Manzanar. The caption printed in the Long Beach Independent reads, "Japanese Roundup: This was the scene 18 years ago as many Nisei were herded into an alien reception center at Manzanar. Many were American Citizens and others were aliens. The first to arrive helped prepare the camp …
Two girls sitting on beds in the barracks at Manzanar (ddr-csujad-52-10)
img Two girls sitting on beds in the barracks at Manzanar (ddr-csujad-52-10)
Two girls sit on beds in the barracks at Manzanar, in front of shelves containing their personal belongings. A caption, printed in the Feb. 25, 1983, edition of the Long Beach Independent reads, "1942 photo showed Japanese-Americans apparently happily interned at Manzanar camp. The accompanying caption said a picture of Gen. Douglas MacArthur hung in a …
New arrivals at Manzanar fill mattresses with straw (ddr-csujad-52-27)
img New arrivals at Manzanar fill mattresses with straw (ddr-csujad-52-27)
Caption pasted on reverse of image reads, "Japanese evacuees who arrived at the alien reception center at Manzanar, Calif., Mar. 24, 1942, fill mattresses with straw as they prepared to spend their first night in their new homes. The emigres were among the first in the greatest forced migration in the nation's history." See this object …
Large crowd of people are gathered outside at an incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-52-42)
img Large crowd of people are gathered outside at an incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-52-42)
A large group of people gathered in an open area with a building to the left and many buildings in the background. The buildings appear to be rows of barracks with other buildings between the rows of barracks. There is a mountain with little vegetation off in the distance. See this object in the California State …
Two children running between the barracks at Manzanar (ddr-csujad-52-18)
img Two children running between the barracks at Manzanar (ddr-csujad-52-18)
Two children appear to be running in an otherwise empty area at Manzanar. One can see barracks on either side of the image and a building in the center of the photo, behind a flagpole with the United States flag. Caption above the image reads, "MANZANAR, Clif. Nov. 11 -- RELOCATION CENTER -- This California Historical …
Sumi Seki and three of her friends in front of barracks (ddr-csujad-52-41)
img Sumi Seki and three of her friends in front of barracks (ddr-csujad-52-41)
Sumi Seki, left, with three friends outside of a barracks at an incarceration camp. Seki became an activist for human rights after the war. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: hslb_npc_0045
Three girls in their quarters at Manzanar (ddr-csujad-52-9)
img Three girls in their quarters at Manzanar (ddr-csujad-52-9)
Three young women in barracks at Manzanar. One sits at a desk, writing in a notebook. The other two look on, one with her hands on the back of the woman at the desk, the other bends at the waist to wash her hands in a white bowl. Caption on back of photograph reads, "Japanese Girls …
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