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Life at Manzanar- one of ten camps where over 110,000 Japanese Americans were incarcerated during WWII

Ian Smith

Manzanar is most widely known as the site of one of ten camps where over 110,000 Japanese Americans were incarcerated during World War II. Located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada inCalifornia’s Owens Valley between the towns of Lone Pine to the south and Independence to the north, it is approximately 230 miles (370 km) northeast of Los Angeles. Manzanar (which means “apple orchard” in Spanish) was identified by the United States National Park Service as the best-preserved of the former camp sites, and is now the Manzanar National Historic Site, which preserves and interprets the legacy of Japanese American incarceration in the United States.

A Japanese pleasure garden built by internees.

A Japanese pleasure garden built by internees.

 

A service at the Buddhist temple.

A service at the Buddhist temple.

 

An internee's mementos and keepsakes.

An internee’s mementos and keepsakes.

 

Children at a Sunday school class.

Children at a Sunday school class.

 

Florence Kuwata practices with batons.

Florence Kuwata practices with batons.

 

Girls perform calisthenics.

Girls perform calisthenics.

 

Harry Sumida, a veteran of the Spanish-American war, receives an X-ray from nurse Aiko Hamaguchi and technician Michael Yonemetsu.

Harry Sumida, a veteran of the Spanish-American war, receives an X-ray from nurse Aiko Hamaguchi and technician Michael Yonemetsu.

 

High schoolers attend a science lecture.

High schoolers attend a science lecture.

 

Internees harvest crops.

Internees harvest crops.

Long before the first incarcerees arrived in March 1942, Manzanar was home to Native Americans, who mostly lived in villages near several creeks in the area. Ranchers and miners formally established the town of Manzanar in 1910 but abandoned the town by 1929 after the City of Los Angeles purchased the water rights to virtually the entire area.As different as these groups were, their histories displayed a common thread of forced relocation.

Internees watch a band performance.

Internees watch a band performance.

 

Kiyo Yoshida, Lillian Wakatsuki and Yoshiko Yamasaki attend a high school biology class.

Kiyo Yoshida, Lillian Wakatsuki and Yoshiko Yamasaki attend a high school biology class.

 

Mrs. Yaeko Nakamura and her daughters Joyce Yukiko and Louise Tamiko.

Mrs. Yaeko Nakamura and her daughters Joyce Yukiko and Louise Tamiko.

 

Roy Takeno, right, and the mayor of the camp at a town hall meeting.

Roy Takeno, right, and the mayor of the camp at a town hall meeting.

 

Service ribbons and qualification badge on the uniform of Corporal Jimmie Shohara.

Service ribbons and qualification badge on the uniform of Corporal Jimmie Shohara.

 

The camp orphanage.

The camp orphanage.

 

The entrance to Manzanar.

The entrance to Manzanar.

The terrain surrounding the relocation camp.

The terrain surrounding the relocation camp.

Winters at the camp were harsh and cold.

Winters at the camp were harsh and cold.

Women in a dressmaking class.

Women in a dressmaking class.

 

Since the last incarcerees left in 1945, former incarcerees and others have worked to protect Manzanar and to establish it as a National Historic Site to ensure that the history of the site, along with the stories of those who were unjustly incarcerated there, are remembered by current and future generations. The primary focus is the Japanese American incarceration era,[as specified in the legislation that created the Manzanar National Historic Site. The site also interprets the former town of Manzanar, the ranch days, the settlement by the Owens Valley Paiute, and the role that water played in shaping the history of the Owens Valley.

All photos Library of Congress