The National Archives have extensive photos of life in the Jerome WRA Camp. I have selected a few that capture the heart of it and illustrate some key points made about the prison Camp. All photos, but the last, are from the National Archives.
This is a picture of the Camp, taken from the Hospital, looking north. This is near the Southern edge of the residential area of the Camp, close to where highway 165 currently runs, and where the remains of the Hospital Smoke Stack are now.
A young girl walking across the Camp in the rain.
“Environmental conditions were muddy and cold and they were plagued by mosquitoes and snakes.”
Source: Arkansas Historic Preservation Program (Department of Arkansas Heritage)
Men digging drainage ditches in the Camp.
“Even when the construction company left the camp it was still not complete, the jobs of drilling wells, laying water and sewage pipe and building roads were left for the Japanese Americans to finish.”
Source: Arkansas Historic Preservation Program
The new Mess Hall.
Mess Hall Staff at work.
A view of Block 7.
A woman working her garden. The wood you see piled up in the background was firewood for the stove inside the barracks building.
An “Apartment” in one of the barracks. With the absence of partitions, people improvised to provide what privacy they could. Japanese Americans made the furniture shown in this picture, using scrap wood from around the Camp.
This picture is of a display in the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, part of an exhibit entitled, “Education in Exile.” The Center is a unit of the Central Arkansas Library System, and is located in downtown Little Rock, at 401 President Clinton Avenue.
It is possible to gloss over the experience of people in the Camps. That would be one way to observe the photo above. I think, however, that the preceding photos show the extent to which people will go to make the best of a terrible situation. The woman at the table and whoever made the furniture were providing a measure of order and hope for the members of their family.
I’ve tried to capture the Jerome WRA Camp in the best way I know how.
Next, we move to an interlude at a Museum in the small city of McGehee…