Voices from the Camps


View video clips of individuals talking about their experiences in the 10 War Relocation Authority concentration camps.

The War Relocation Authority (WRA) oversaw the construction of ten camps in sparsely populated and isolated areas, mostly on unused desert or swampland under federal control. Between June and October 1942, inmates were transferred by train from the "assembly centers" to the larger camps. Housing approximately 120,000 people, the concentration camps were designed to be self-contained communities, complete with hospitals, post offices, schools, warehouses, offices, factories, and residential areas. The sites were surrounded by barbed wire and guard towers within a large buffer zone that served as farmland, tended by the prisoners. While conditions varied from camp to camp, the plan was consistently based on a grid system of blocks. Each block had ten to fourteen tar paper-covered barracks, a mess hall, a latrine, a laundry, and a recreation hall. Supplied furnishings were a single droplight, army cots, and a coal, gas, or wood heater. The last camp closed in March 1946.

To view additional facts and photos of all ten camps, Click Here to view an interactive map showing 69 detention facilities used to incarcerate Japanese Americans and Japanese nationals during World War II. To look at the WRA camps, click on the red dots on the map. Courtesy of Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project

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online exhibition

densho — Last modified Jun 28 2021 1:49 a.m.

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