Japanese-American Internment - CAMP MANZANAR

Forced from their homes and required to close (or sell) their businesses, Japanese-Americans have to spend WWII in various internment camps located in various isolated places. This group of people is boarding a bus which will take them to Manzanar. The photo, attributed to Clem Albers, is from April of 1942. Online via the Library of Congress; public domain.


Evacuated from Los Angeles in early April of 1942, hundreds of ethnic Japanese traveled to the Manzanar internment facility, 250 miles away. Located in Owens Valley, California, it was flanked by the High Sierras on one side and Mt. Whitney on the other.

Other Manzanar detainees began their trip from a fishing village, known as Furusato, located on California's Terminal Island. What they would not realize, until years later, is that their village and everything in it would be destroyed in their absence.

What was it like to leave one's home and travel to a completely unknown, fenced-in internment camp? The U.S. National Archives helps us to take a look back:

  • Some evacuees wait for a bus or arrive by train at Lone Pine, California.

  • On their arrival, babies, children, women and men had to be registered.

  • Manzanar’s Relocation Center was a first stop before people were assigned to their new homes.

  • Every evacuee lined up to be vaccinated since, under these new living arrangements, the risk of typhoid and other diseases was always a concern.

  • To make sure that no internee left Manzanar without permission, the Army’s military police guarded the camp’s boundaries. Camp hospitals treated the sick, like these elderly patients. Before the permanent facility (with 250 beds) was finished, people were cared for in temporary quarters.

  • Dust was always present at Manzanar, so camp internees fashioned sandals called geta (wooden clogs) which were useful in such a climate. Fortunately, there was a nearby mountain creek which provided relief from the desert heat and a place for children to have fun.

  • Manzanar eventually had a library containing, among other books, English classics translated into Japanese.

The great photographer Ansel Adams took hundreds of pictures at Manzanar. The Library of Congress has created a special on-line exhibit, “Suffering Under a Great Injustice,” featuring much of that work. When he gave the collection to the American people, Adams wrote:

The purpose of my work was to show how these people, suffering under a great injustice, and loss of property, businesses and professions, had overcome the sense of defeat and dispair [sic] by building for themselves a vital community in an arid (but magnificent) environment...All in all, I think this Manzanar Collection is an important historical document, and I trust it can be put to good use.

Poston, one of the most populated internment camps, was located in Arizona, on an Indian reservation. Despite adversities it, too, had a sense of community.

Let’s take a look.

0 Question or Comment?
click to read or comment
2 Questions 2 Ponder
click to read and respond
0 It's Awesome!
vote for your favorite

Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Feb 01, 2002

Updated Last Revision: Sep 01, 2017

To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

"CAMP MANZANAR" AwesomeStories.com. Feb 01, 2002. Feb 17, 2020.
Awesome Stories Silver or Gold Membership Required
Awesome Stories Silver or Gold Membership Required
Show tooltips