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 three boys, two are on a tricycle, the other is holding a stick (ddr-csujad-47-50)
img Photograph of three boys, two are on a tricycle, the other is holding a stick (ddr-csujad-47-50)
Photograph of three boys, two are on a tricycle, the other is holding a stick while sitting on the back wheel. Behind them is a basketball hoop and several barracks. The Sierra Nevada is in the background. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: ecm_merritt_0084
Photograph of a woman on skies at Manzanar (ddr-csujad-47-174)
img Photograph of a woman on skies at Manzanar (ddr-csujad-47-174)
Photograph of a woman on skies, holding ski poles, at Manzanar incarceration camp. Behind her are three people playing in the snow. Several cars and administrative buildings are visible in the background. The ground is snow-covered. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: ecm_merritt_0300
Building every half hour (ddr-csujad-47-22)
img Building every half hour (ddr-csujad-47-22)
Photograph of three men constructing the walls of a barracks. A sign in front reads: "BLK 1, BLDG 2." A truck is parked in the background, behind are the Alabama Hills and the Sierra Nevada. Caption reads: A Building Every Half Hour. Title from caption, which was taken from the original photo album. See this object …
Photograph of Jone Ingalls standing in a barracks doorway (ddr-csujad-47-175)
img Photograph of Jone Ingalls standing in a barracks doorway (ddr-csujad-47-175)
Jone Ingalls standing in doorway of Block 7 Building 3 Apartment 4 with a broom in hand at Manzanar incarceration camp. A sign to the left reads, "High Voltage, (exploded)." A bike is in the lower right corner. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: ecm_merritt_0301
Photograph of wedding cake at Manzanar incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-47-353)
img Photograph of wedding cake at Manzanar incarceration camp (ddr-csujad-47-353)
Photograph of a three-tier wedding cake with a figurine on top, possibly in Manzanar staff housing. A table is visible in the background with a clock and several photographs on it. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: ecm_merritt_3500
Photograph of a barracks at Manzanar with melting snow on the ground (ddr-csujad-47-335)
img Photograph of a barracks at Manzanar with melting snow on the ground (ddr-csujad-47-335)
Photograph of the gardens and barracks at Manzanar incarceration camp with melting snow on the ground. The snow-covered Inyo mountains are visible in the background. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: ecm_merritt_0494
Photograph of Manzanar staff housing with a rock fence and a car in front (ddr-csujad-47-352)
img Photograph of Manzanar staff housing with a rock fence and a car in front (ddr-csujad-47-352)
Photograph of staff housing at Manzanar incarceration camp. A stone fence with a wooden gate surrounds the house. In the lower right corner is a car with license plate, "84Z272." In the background are the Sierra Nevada mountains. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: ecm_merritt_2500
Photograph of Martha Shoaf in front of staff housing at Manzanar (ddr-csujad-47-178)
img Photograph of Martha Shoaf in front of staff housing at Manzanar (ddr-csujad-47-178)
Photograph of Martha Shoaf in front of staff housing at Manzanar incarceration camp. She is standing on front step next to a door. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: ecm_merritt_0304
Photograph of Manzanar staff housing with dog in front (ddr-csujad-47-350)
img Photograph of Manzanar staff housing with dog in front (ddr-csujad-47-350)
Photograph of staff housing at Manzanar incarceration camp. A dog is visible resting in the shade of the house. In the background a car and mountains are partially visible. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: ecm_merritt_1500
Photograph of Manzanar staff housing (ddr-csujad-47-342)
img Photograph of Manzanar staff housing (ddr-csujad-47-342)
Photograph of staff housing at Manzanar incarceration camp. Several buildings surround the central lawn and park which has saplings planted. Several cars are parked along the road. A mountain range is visible in the background. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: ecm_merritt_0501
Photograph of a group of people, including Bernice Sibner, sitting on rocks in the Sierra Nevada (ddr-csujad-47-298)
img Photograph of a group of people, including Bernice Sibner, sitting on rocks in the Sierra Nevada (ddr-csujad-47-298)
Photograph of a group of people, including Bernice Sibner, 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_0447
Photograph of Mitzie standing in the snow at Manzanar (ddr-csujad-47-267)
img Photograph of Mitzie standing in the snow at Manzanar (ddr-csujad-47-267)
Photograph of Mitzie standing in snow in front of building at Manzanar incarceration camp. She is wearing a dress and cardigan with boots and a necklace. The photograph is signed, "Miss Jo Hawes, Sincerely Mitzie." See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: ecm_merritt_0415
Photograph of Arthur M. Sandridge and his son in front of staff housing (ddr-csujad-47-167)
img Photograph of Arthur M. Sandridge and his son in front of staff housing (ddr-csujad-47-167)
Photograph of Arthur M. Sandridge and his son in front of staff housing at Manzanar incarceration camp. They are standing in front of the fenced-in patio area. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: ecm_merritt_0293
Photograph of Martha Shoaf in front of staff housing at Manzanar (ddr-csujad-47-173)
img Photograph of Martha Shoaf in front of staff housing at Manzanar (ddr-csujad-47-173)
Photograph of Martha Shoaf in front of staff housing at Manzanar incarceration camp. She is standing on the lawn next to a sapling. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: ecm_merritt_0299
Photograph of the Manzanar orchards (ddr-csujad-47-344)
img Photograph of the Manzanar orchards (ddr-csujad-47-344)
Photograph of the fruit orchards at Manzanar incarceration camp with Mount Williamson in the background. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: ecm_merritt_0503
Photograph of Lucy Adams sitting on the grass in front of staff housing at Manzanar (ddr-csujad-47-170)
img Photograph of Lucy Adams sitting on the grass in front of staff housing at Manzanar (ddr-csujad-47-170)
Photograph of Lucy Adams sitting on the grass in front of staff housing at Manzanar incarceration camp. She is wearing a paisley dress and is out of focus. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: ecm_merritt_0296
First building (ddr-csujad-47-21)
img First building (ddr-csujad-47-21)
Photograph of the first buidling being constructed at Manzanar Incarceration camp. The outside framework and walls are up, roof is missing. Two men are working on the roofline, and four men are observing from the outside. Sign in front of barrack reads: Blk 1, Bldg 1. Caption reads: The First Building. Title from caption, which was …
Photograph of a group of women in front of staff housing (ddr-csujad-47-172)
img Photograph of a group of women in front of staff housing (ddr-csujad-47-172)
Photograph of the residents of the newly-constructed bachelorette dorms standing in the snow in front of staff housing at Manzanar incarceration camp. From left to right: Nona Winchester (secretary), Edith Cox (teacher), ____, Lena Harrison (teacher), Susan Shoaf (secretary), Martha Shoaf (teacher), Ione Bermaye (teacher), and Gretchen Ingalls (teacher). The snow-covered Inyo Mountains can be seen …
Photograph of a woman and child at Manzanar (ddr-csujad-47-180)
img Photograph of a woman and child at Manzanar (ddr-csujad-47-180)
Photograph of an elderly woman and child standing in front of the Joshua tree at Manzanar incarceration camp. Two cars and several barracks can be seen in the background on the left side. An administration building is visible on the right. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: ecm_merritt_0306
Photograph of three small boys standing in front of a bararcks with abandoned furniture (ddr-csujad-47-16)
img Photograph of three small boys standing in front of a bararcks with abandoned furniture (ddr-csujad-47-16)
Photograph of three young boys standing in front of a barracks at Manzanar with a stack of abandoned furniture next to them. The photograph is very grainy. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: ecm_merritt_0043
Photograph of an administrative building at Manzanar (ddr-csujad-47-158)
img Photograph of an administrative building at Manzanar (ddr-csujad-47-158)
Photograph of a grassy field in front of staff housing at Manzanar incarceration camp. The snow-covered Sierra Nevada can be seen in the background. Two cars are visible in the middle right of the photograph. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: ecm_merritt_0274
Photograph of Manzanar with mountains in the background (ddr-csujad-47-337)
img Photograph of Manzanar with mountains in the background (ddr-csujad-47-337)
Photograph of Manzanar incarceration camp taken from a guard tower looking toward the snow-covered Inyo mountains. Several blocks of the camp are visible with a utility pole in the lower right corner. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: ecm_merritt_0496
Photograph of snow covered Manzanar with a line of buildings and a car in the foreground (ddr-csujad-47-52)
img Photograph of snow covered Manzanar with a line of buildings and a car in the foreground (ddr-csujad-47-52)
Photograph of snow-covered Manzanar with a line of administrative buildings, starting with the police department. Two snow-covered cars, one in the foreground and the other halfway down the street. A lone person can be seen walking in the distance in the middle of the street. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization …
Photograph of Echo Goto leaning on a car at Manzanar (ddr-csujad-47-263)
img Photograph of Echo Goto leaning on a car at Manzanar (ddr-csujad-47-263)
Photograph of Echo Goto leaning on car at Manzanar incarceration camp. The woman is wearing a skirt suit and white gloves. Behind the car a utility pole is visible. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: ecm_merritt_0411
Photograph of a group of people holding snow balls on the side of a mountain with a snowman (ddr-csujad-47-296)
img Photograph of a group of people holding snow balls on the side of a mountain with a snowman (ddr-csujad-47-296)
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_0445
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