All Manzanar photographs
from the Ansel Adams Library of Congress Archives unless otherwise
Text excerpts from "Manzanar"
by John Armor and Peter Wright"
Portraits of Manzanar
- Chemistry Teacher
Forty percent of the survivors of the Issei, those Japanese
who entered the United States prior to 1924 but were never permitted
to apply for citizenship, and who were interned at Manzanar and
other camps, now live in the greater Los Angeles area. One-fifth
of them live below the poverty level. Most have problems with
health care, housing, and access to government services. Yet
before they were interned, almost all were members of cohesive,
It is ironic to mention generations of Indian treaties broken,
or the loss of all possessions and years of imprisonment that
the Nisei suffered.
One earlier effort was made to compensate the Nisei. The
Japanese American Evacuation Claims Act of 1948 applied only
to property losses, required elaborate documentation, and ultimately
paid on $37 million against $148 million in claims. Also, it
paid in 1942 dollars and without interest. It offered nothing
to account for the strain of imprisonment itself, for lost income,
or even for some major categories of property, such as crops
left in the fields as the Nisei were taken away.
May Ichide -
Sunday School Teacher
Packing up to
High School Student
Fumio Morikawa, left our family a photograph of the basketball
team he managed while he was interned in the Manzanar concentration
camp during WWII. He entered the camp in March 1942 and was released
in June 1944. I don't know anyone on the photograph and my father
is not in the photograph. However, the photograph is signed by
many of the team members. I don't have a date for the photograph.
Paper and Boards
barracks at Manzanar were constructed of quarter-inch boards
over a wooden frame, the outsides of which were covered with
tar paper nailed to the roof and walls with batten boards. Heat
was provided by oil-burning furnaces. This was the cheapest,
quickest way to provide living quarters slightly better than
tents. At Manzanar, the cost of this construction was $3,507,018,
or $376 per inmate.
According to army regulations, this type of housing was suitable
only for combat-trained soldiers, and then only on a temporary
basis. The army called this "theater of operations"
housing. But at Manzanar and the other camps, these barracks
were used as long-term housing for men, women, and children --
who stayed in them for up to three and a half years.
In many ways, Questions and answers for Evacuees glossed
over, in soothing bureaucratic language, the ramifications of
the Nisei's evacuation and the circumstances they would
encounter in the camps. The booklet was fairly accurate, however,
when it warned the Nisei to be prepared for temperatures
varying from "freezing in winter to 115 degrees in...the
summer." Manzanar provided both of those extremes, plus
wind that whipped the snow across the desert in the winter, and
dust in the spring, summer, and fall. Among all the camps, the
extremes of temperatures endured by the Nisei ranged from 130
degrees in Poston, Arizona, to minus thirty degrees in Heart