Relocation Centers/Concentration Camps run by the War Relocation Authority

On the morning of December 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service attacked Pearl Harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, hours within receipt of the news, asked Congress to declare war on Japan, which they immediately acted upon. War was formally declared on December 8, 1941. On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. This order led to the assembly and evacuation of over 100,000 persons of Japanese ancestry on the U.S. the West Coast. During World War II, the United States was fighting a war on two fronts: in the Pacific Theater, the U.S. was engaged in battle with Japan; and in Europe, the U.S. fought against Germany and Italy. However, only Japanese Americans were incarcerated en masse during the war, while citizens of German and Italian ancestry were only selectively interned.

The War Relocation Authority (WRA) was the United States agency created to assume jurisdiction over the Japanese and Japanese Americans evacuated from California, Oregon, and Washington. During its existence from March 1942 to 1946, the WRA controlled the administration of the relocation centers, administered the extensive resettlement program, and oversaw the details of the registration and segregation programs.

In December of 1944, President Roosevelt rescinded Executive Order 9066, and the WRA began a six-month process of releasing internees and shutting down the camps. On August 15, 1945 Imperial Japan surrendered, ending the war in the Pacific.

WRA camps housed over 120,000 Japanese Americans for close to four years. There were eleven camps in California, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Texas and Arkansas. The majority (over 60%) of camp inhabitants were US citizens, children and young adults. The remainder had been U.S. residents for many years. Many had lived in this country between twenty and forty years. Persons born in Japan were not allowed to become naturalized citizens until 1952.

These are the ten main concentration camps built and operated by the War Relocation Authority to house the Japanese Americans forcibly removed from the West Coast by the Army in early 1942. After initial removal to "Assembly Centers," inmates were eventually transferred to these larger-scale long-term camps, which were intended to operate for the duration of the war. The camps were alternately labeled: relocation camps, evacuation centers, internment camps or concentration camps. Similarly, the individuals were labeled evacuees or inmates.

Click the photo/link for each camp to see the digitized Bancroft collections from that site.

Sunrise services (Christian) were held Thanksgiving Day at this center. Photographer: Stewart, Francis--Rivers, Arizona. 11/26/42

Gila River

Rivers, Arizona

On a quiet Sunday afternoon at the Amache Center, the day is calm and the warm December sun invites center residents from their barracks homes. Photographer: Parker, Tom--Amache, Colorado. 12/13/42


Amache, Colorado

Land cleared of sagebrush last fall and corrugated against wind erosion. Assistant Farm Superintendent, Eiichi Sakauye, checking the moisture for early Spring crop planting. Photographer: Iwasaki, Hikaru--Heart Mountain, Wyoming. 3/10/44

Heart Mountain

Cody, Wyoming

A view of the west section of the hospital. Photographer: Parker, Tom--Denson, Arkansas. 11/17/42


Denson, Arkansas

Manzanar, California--Street scene and view of quarters for evacuees of Japanese ancestry at Manzanar reception center. High Sierras in background. Photographer: Albers, Clem--Manzanar, California. 4/2/42


Manzanar, California

Eden, Idaho--A panorama view of the Minidoka War Relocation Authority center. This view, taken from the top of the water tower at the east end of the center, shows partially completed barracks. Photographer: Stewart, Francis--Hunt, Idaho. 8/18/42


Hunt, Idaho

Living quarters of evacuees of Japanese ancestry at this War Relocation Authority center, as seen from the top water tower facing southwest. Photographer: Clark, Fred--Poston, Arizona. 6/1/42

Poston (Colorado River)

Parker, Arizona

A typical wood cutting scene in the street in the north of the Rohwer Relocation Center, where former west coast residents of Japanese ancestry are now residing. Wood, to be cleared from the prospective center farm lands. The cutting is accomplished by volunteer teams selected by Block Managers, and each capable block resident contributes an equal amount of his time in sawing and chopping the logs. Photographer: Parker, Tom--McGehee, Arkansas. 11/21/42


McGehee, Arkansas

A panorama view of the Central Utah Relocation Center, taken from the water tower.  Photographer: Stewart, Francis--Topaz, Utah. 3/14/43

Topaz (Central Utah)

Delta, Utah

A winter time scene looking east down the main fire break.  Photographer: Stewart, Francis--Newell, California. 1/28/43

Tule Lake

Newell, California