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
Incarcerees watching outdoor musical performance at Manzanar incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-20)
img Incarcerees watching outdoor musical performance at Manzanar incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-20)
Incarcerees watching outdoor musical performance at Manzanar incarceration camp. June 5, 1942. Photo by Francis Stewart. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: HMLSC_TOMO_020
Sixth grade boys playing softball during recess at Manzanar incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-19)
img Sixth grade boys playing softball during recess at Manzanar incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-14-19)
Sixth grade boys playing softball during recess at Manzanar incarceration camp. February 10, 1943. Photo by Francis Stewart. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: HMLSC_TOMO_019
Desert Sentinel, Volume I, No. 4, November 30, 1942 (ddr-csujad-17-5)
doc Desert Sentinel, Volume I, No. 4, November 30, 1942 (ddr-csujad-17-5)
School newspaper published at the Gila River incarceration camp. Features and topics include a new superintendent and the choice of "Desert Sentinel" as the name for the school paper; news of campus, sports, and social and holiday events, including the opening of the Butte High School library; items about classes, students and teachers, including a student …
Granada Pioneer, Edition 2, Issue 21, January 15, 1944 (ddr-csujad-17-9)
doc Granada Pioneer, Edition 2, Issue 21, January 15, 1944 (ddr-csujad-17-9)
Newspaper published at the Granada incarceration camp. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: JARC_02-07_04
Deserted Senses [spoof title for Desert Sentinel], Vol. I, No. 9, April 1, 1943 (ddr-csujad-17-3)
doc Deserted Senses [spoof title for Desert Sentinel], Vol. I, No. 9, April 1, 1943 (ddr-csujad-17-3)
School newspaper published at the Gila River incarceration camp; this is an April Fools' Day issue with articles and illustrations making fun of life at camp. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: JARC_04-01_03
Granada Pioneer, Edition 2, Issue 20, January 8, 1944 (ddr-csujad-17-8)
doc Granada Pioneer, Edition 2, Issue 20, January 8, 1944 (ddr-csujad-17-8)
Newspaper published at the Granada incarceration camp. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: JARC_02-07_03
Desert Sentinel, Vol. I. No. 15, June 21, 1943 (ddr-csujad-17-1)
doc Desert Sentinel, Vol. I. No. 15, June 21, 1943 (ddr-csujad-17-1)
School newspaper published at the Gila River incarceration camp. According to an announcement on the back page, publication seeks to make known the War Relocation Authority's "plans and policies," the results of Community Council deliberations, and various regulations and news about life at the Gila River Incarceration Camp. Issue features articles about and by the Camp's …
Granada Pioneer, Vol. I, No.5, November 11, 1942 (ddr-csujad-17-6)
doc Granada Pioneer, Vol. I, No.5, November 11, 1942 (ddr-csujad-17-6)
Newspaper published at the Granada incarceration camp. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: JARC_02-01_06
Granada Pioneer, Vol. I, No.61, May 1, 1943 (ddr-csujad-17-7)
doc Granada Pioneer, Vol. I, No.61, May 1, 1943 (ddr-csujad-17-7)
Newspaper published at the Granada incarceration camp. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: JARC_02-04_01
Desert Sentinel, Vol. I No. 3, December 24, 1942 (ddr-csujad-17-4)
doc Desert Sentinel, Vol. I No. 3, December 24, 1942 (ddr-csujad-17-4)
School newspaper published at the Gila River incarceration camp. Features and topics include a constitution and new principal for Butte High School; news of campus, sports, and social and holiday events; items about classes, students and teachers; and short prose and poetry pieces. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: …
Desert Sentinel, Vol. I No. 12, May 14, 1943 (ddr-csujad-17-2)
doc Desert Sentinel, Vol. I No. 12, May 14, 1943 (ddr-csujad-17-2)
School newspaper published at the Gila River incarceration camp. Features and items include a report on a bond drive and on a "Kampus Karnival"; news about the debate team and about a talent show, as well as about goings-on at Topaz, Utah; Manzanar, California; Echoes, Wyoming; Hunt, Idaho; and Amache, Colorado; and illustrations. See this object …
Relocation Communities for Wartime Evacuees, September 1942 (ddr-csujad-19-23)
doc Relocation Communities for Wartime Evacuees, September 1942 (ddr-csujad-19-23)
This paper describes the relocation communities for "the wartime evacuees" from the Pacific Coast. It also talks about the community life and the work opportunities for the incarceress in the different incarceration camps. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: WRA_01-15_01
This isn't Japan (ddr-csujad-19-54)
doc This isn't Japan (ddr-csujad-19-54)
This is an article from the magazine "Common Ground," autumn 1942, by Mary Oyama which describes the cultural differences between the younger Japanese American Nisei and the older Issei generations. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: WRA_02-10_02
Manzanar From Inside Out (ddr-csujad-19-2)
doc Manzanar From Inside Out (ddr-csujad-19-2)
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 …
'Jap Crow' Experiment (ddr-csujad-19-43)
doc 'Jap Crow' Experiment (ddr-csujad-19-43)
This is an article from the magazine "The Nation" by John Larison which discusses in detail about the living conditions of the "evacuees" in the war relocation centers. It talks about how the war relocation centers had only a few facilities for recreation, the low quality of education and the economic conditions of the people in …
Memo from [Willard E.] Schmidt, Chief of Administrative Police, to [Raymond R.] Best, [1944] (ddr-csujad-2-78)
doc Memo from [Willard E.] Schmidt, Chief of Administrative Police, to [Raymond R.] Best, [1944] (ddr-csujad-2-78)
Regards arming the Administrative Police Section, including reasons for using the sawed-off shotgun vs. the 45 automatic pistol for security purposes, and the potential for escalation of tensions in a "divided camp (anti and pro, status quo)." See also the related typewritten memo, Memorandum from Willard [E.] Schmidt, Chief, Administrative Police, to R. R. [Raymond R.] …
Memo from Co-ordinating Committee to Chief of Police Schmidt [Willard E. Schmidt], February 3, 1944 (ddr-csujad-2-72)
doc Memo from Co-ordinating Committee to Chief of Police Schmidt [Willard E. Schmidt], February 3, 1944 (ddr-csujad-2-72)
Calls for special meeting of the Project Director, Advisory Council, and Co-ordinating Committee to discuss Committee recommendations, and refers to four attached memoranda, each from Co-ordinating Committee 1608-A to R. [Raymond] R. Best, Project Director, dated February 2, 1944 and written by Byron Akitsuki, Executive Secretary. Subjects of the memoranda are: Receipt of Red Cross Gift …
Memo from Harry L. Black, Advisory Committee, to Mr. [Raymond R.] Best, February 8, 1944 (ddr-csujad-2-91)
doc Memo from Harry L. Black, Advisory Committee, to Mr. [Raymond R.] Best, February 8, 1944 (ddr-csujad-2-91)
Memorandum regarding meeting with Co-ordinating Committee. Concerns meeting to discuss Committee's recommendation to release "18 additional detainees from the stockade." The memo on "Executive Office of the President, Office for Emergency Management" letterhead, also discusses employment of incarcerees from Manzanar and Tule Lake and moving incarcerees out of and into various housing blocks. See this object …
Letter from children of Kihichi Sakamoto to Project Director [Raymond R. Best], February 14, 1944 (ddr-csujad-2-94)
doc Letter from children of Kihichi Sakamoto to Project Director [Raymond R. Best], February 14, 1944 (ddr-csujad-2-94)
Letter from three of his children, Tatsuo, Manabu, and Osamu Sakamoto, requests the release of their father, Kihichi Sakamoto, from the Army Stockade, for the sake of their mother's "health and mind" stating that she has been ill since their stay in Heart Mountain the previous year and has suffered a relapse upon her husband's imprisonment …
Memo from Co-ordinating Committee to R. [Raymond] R. Best, Project Director, Kiyotake, February 5, 1944 (ddr-csujad-2-71)
doc Memo from Co-ordinating Committee to R. [Raymond] R. Best, Project Director, Kiyotake, February 5, 1944 (ddr-csujad-2-71)
Memo requesting for release of Abe. Describes the situation of Abe (Joe Kiyotake Abe), who had been in Army custody since the end of December, 1943, and whose wife was hospitalized, leaving their three children without parental care. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: sjs_sch_0071
Memo from multiple incarcerees to the Co-ordinating Committee, February 1944 (ddr-csujad-2-89)
doc Memo from multiple incarcerees to the Co-ordinating Committee, February 1944 (ddr-csujad-2-89)
States that the incarcerees wish to see "normalcy re-established" and peace and cooperation preserved between the Administration and the "Colony" in the Tule Lake incarceration camp, pledging support for the Co-ordinating Committee's efforts to attain peace at the camp. A handwritten annotation next to one of the people's names provides his or her release date. Names …
Report on incarcerees stealing plasterboard (ddr-csujad-2-51)
doc Report on incarcerees stealing plasterboard (ddr-csujad-2-51)
Report on three incarcerees accused of stealing plasterboard at Tule Lake Incarceration Camp in order to make closets in their apartments. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: sjs_sch_0051
[Japanese folklore about birth] (ddr-csujad-2-59)
doc [Japanese folklore about birth] (ddr-csujad-2-59)
Report on Japanese folklore and superstitions regarding the birth of a newborn. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: sjs_sch_0059
Memo from Co-ordinating Committee to W. [Willard E.] Schmidt, [1944] (ddr-csujad-2-98)
doc Memo from Co-ordinating Committee to W. [Willard E.] Schmidt, [1944] (ddr-csujad-2-98)
List of names, addresses, family numbers, and start dates of active fielders (in subject line, the job title is spelled "fiedlers" but is elsewhere spelled correctly); start dates of the 32 fielders range from January 13, 1944 to February 4, 1944. Names: Hamada, Isao; Nakanishi, Yoichi; Iwohara, Tsugio; Okamoto, Chiyoko; Keiunji, Masaru; Sakai, Masayoshi; Oda, Yoshitsugu; …
Letter from Henry [Katsumi] Fujita to Mr. and Mrs. Davis, October 5, 1942 (ddr-csujad-23-14)
doc Letter from Henry [Katsumi] Fujita to Mr. and Mrs. Davis, October 5, 1942 (ddr-csujad-23-14)
Describes in detail the long train ride from Sept. 15-18 between Merced and the Granada (Amache) incarceration camp: the layout of the train cars, times to different towns, tunnels and coal smoke, eating and sleeping arrangements, military troops and equipment staged along the railway, desert scenery, late arrival at Amache, an extra night aboard the train, …
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