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
Young man on tractor (ddr-csujad-26-131)
img Young man on tractor (ddr-csujad-26-131)
Photo of a young Japanese American man on a tractor. Barracks building are seen in the background. From photo album of Robert Billigmeier. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: mei_05_101
Large group photo (ddr-csujad-26-125)
img Large group photo (ddr-csujad-26-125)
Photo of a large group of Japanese Americans and Caucasian men and women pose in front of a barracks building with a baby and a dog. From photo album of Robert Billigmeier. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: mei_05_094
View from Castle Rock facing east (ddr-csujad-26-129)
img View from Castle Rock facing east (ddr-csujad-26-129)
Landscape photo featuring the Tule Lake incarceration camp and the roads around it as seen in the snow from a nearby hill top. Verso reads, "view from Castle Rock facing east." From photo album of Robert Billigmeier. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: mei_05_099
Young Japanese couple (ddr-csujad-26-119)
img Young Japanese couple (ddr-csujad-26-119)
Photo of a young Japanese American couple seated on a bench in front of barracks buildings. From photo album of Robert Billigmeier. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: mei_05_088
Tule Lake scrapbook illustrated page (ddr-csujad-26-64)
img Tule Lake scrapbook illustrated page (ddr-csujad-26-64)
Scrapbook page features a pastel drawing of women showering and in various states of undress in camp barracks. Illustration is accompanied by a poem "Barrack room ballads" about the lack of both privacy and comfort of women using camp barracks showers and toilets. Tule Lake scrapbook (ucsb_mei_0053), page 31. See this object in the California State …
University of California evacuation and resettlement study: The Gila River WRA relocation center, Rivers, Pinal County, Arizona (ddr-csujad-26-27)
doc University of California evacuation and resettlement study: The Gila River WRA relocation center, Rivers, Pinal County, Arizona (ddr-csujad-26-27)
Description of the Gila River incarceration camp during the first month of occupation, including camp location, climate, landscape, barracks, issues with camp construction, poor conditions and lack of furnishings, incarcerees who were subjected to upon arrival. Camp administration, food and housing issues, camp employment, security, recreation, and social groups are described and analyzed. Report compiled as …
Women pose in front of building (ddr-csujad-26-84)
img Women pose in front of building (ddr-csujad-26-84)
A group of young women pose in front of what may be the side of a barracks building. From photo album of Robert Billigmeier. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: mei_05_021
Three boys playing (ddr-csujad-26-103)
img Three boys playing (ddr-csujad-26-103)
Three Japanese American boys sit and play in the dirt in front of a basketball hoop. Barracks buildings are in the background. From photo album of Robert Billigmeier. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: mei_05_040
Evacuation and resettlement study, structural report, section II: the first six months at Tule Lake: social changes and a chronology of events (ddr-csujad-26-4)
doc Evacuation and resettlement study, structural report, section II: the first six months at Tule Lake: social changes and a chronology of events (ddr-csujad-26-4)
Report chronicling the first six months Tule Lake camp including the establishment of community activities, employment, schools, and barracks infrastructure. Describes challenges of adjusting to life in camp often using direct quotations from incarcerees to express struggles amid social and cultural groups as well as conflicts and strikes. Several events are also described including a description …
Large group photo (ddr-csujad-26-143)
img Large group photo (ddr-csujad-26-143)
Photo of a large group of Japanese Americans and Caucasian men and women pose in front of a barracks building with a baby and a dog. From photo album of Robert Billigmeier. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: mei_05_116
Tule Lake recreation center community affairs report for the period August 20, 1942 to September 20, 1942 (ddr-csujad-26-11)
doc Tule Lake recreation center community affairs report for the period August 20, 1942 to September 20, 1942 (ddr-csujad-26-11)
Summary of community youth recreation activities at Tule Lake before school began including descriptions of administration, leadership and training, the "Community Activities Commission," advisory board, planning board, staff, organization, and activities. Report compiled as a portion of the Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Study (JERS). See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization …
Structural report, chapter I: an introduction to Tule Lake (ddr-csujad-26-3)
doc Structural report, chapter I: an introduction to Tule Lake (ddr-csujad-26-3)
Portion of a report compiled as part of the Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Study (JERS) describing the landscape, climate, barracks, facilities, schedule, and daily life routines of incarcerees at the Tule Lake incarceration camp. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: mei_01_34_001
Victim of the Japanese Evacuation and Resettlement Study (JERS) (ddr-csujad-26-31)
doc Victim of the Japanese Evacuation and Resettlement Study (JERS) (ddr-csujad-26-31)
An affidavit written to invalidate purported distortions and false accusations made against the author in two books published using research material collected by Rosalie Hankey Wax during de Cristoforo's incarceration at Tule Lake. The books are "Doing Fieldwork: Warnings and Advice" by Rosalie H. Wax and "The Spoilage" by Dorothy Swaine Thomas and Richard S. Nishimoto …
Young women (ddr-csujad-26-142)
img Young women (ddr-csujad-26-142)
Four young Japanese American women pose with a Caucasian woman in front of an automobile. Barracks building is in the background. From photo album of Robert Billigmeier. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: mei_05_112
Tule Lake panoramic landscape (ddr-csujad-3-9)
img Tule Lake panoramic landscape (ddr-csujad-3-9)
Photograph of Tule Lake camp showing expanse of camp including buildings, barracks, watch towers, and railways within the basin landscape. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: tos_01_001_010
Tule Lake rooftops (ddr-csujad-3-4)
img Tule Lake rooftops (ddr-csujad-3-4)
Photograph looking across rooftops of buildings at Tule Lake towards hills in the distance. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: tos_01_001_004
Tule Lake landscape panoramic photograph (ddr-csujad-3-5)
img Tule Lake landscape panoramic photograph (ddr-csujad-3-5)
High vantage point panoramic photograph of Tule Lake camp showing expanse of camp including buildings, railroad, roadways, and the basin landscape. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: tos_01_001_005
Tule Lake nighttime panorama (ddr-csujad-3-6)
img Tule Lake nighttime panorama (ddr-csujad-3-6)
High vantage point panoramic nighttime photograph of Tule Lake camp with the lights from the buildings inside camp on. The photograph shows the expanse of the camp against the darkened landscape. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: tos_01_001_006
Tule Lake perimeter landscape (ddr-csujad-3-7)
img Tule Lake perimeter landscape (ddr-csujad-3-7)
Panoramic photograph of a part of the perimeter of Tule Lake with buildings, telephone poles, fencing and watch towers lining up in the distance. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: tos_01_001_007
Minidoka incarceration camp barracks (ddr-csujad-32-6)
img Minidoka incarceration camp barracks (ddr-csujad-32-6)
Photograph of camp barracks at the Minidoka incarceration camp. Photo featured on page 4 of the Minidoka Incarceration Camp Photograph Album (csudh_ben_001). See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: ben_01_001_005_014
Minidoka incarceration camp barracks (ddr-csujad-32-9)
img Minidoka incarceration camp barracks (ddr-csujad-32-9)
Photograph of camp barracks in snow at the Minidoka incarceration camp. Photo featured on page 5 of the Minidoka Incarceration Camp Photograph Album (csudh_ben_001). See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: ben_01_001_006_018
Women in snow (ddr-csujad-32-10)
img Women in snow (ddr-csujad-32-10)
Photograph of three women in the snow at the Minidoka incarceration camp. Trucks and other camp buildings can be seen in the background. Photo featured on page 5 of Minidoka Incarceration Camp Photograph Album (csudh_ben_001). See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: ben_01_001_006_019
Minidoka incarceration camp photograph album (ddr-csujad-32-1)
img Minidoka incarceration camp photograph album (ddr-csujad-32-1)
The photograph album contains 69 photographs from mostly the Minidoka incarceration camp. It may have been compiled by Lona Haug, vice-principal of the Blk 10 school at the Minidoka incarceration camp in 1943. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: ben_01_001
Minidoka incarceration camp barracks (ddr-csujad-32-7)
img Minidoka incarceration camp barracks (ddr-csujad-32-7)
Photograph of the Minidoka incarceration camp barracks from a distance. Photo featured on page 5 of the Minidoka Incarceration Camp Photograph Album (csudh_ben_001). See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: ben_01_001_006_015
Women standing in front of camp barrack (ddr-csujad-32-8)
img Women standing in front of camp barrack (ddr-csujad-32-8)
Photograph of three women, [Ev, Louise, and Gwen] in front of a barrack at the Minidoka incarceration camp. Photo featured on page 5 of the Minidoka Incarceration Camp Photograph Album (csudh_ben_001). See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: ben_01_001_006_017
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