• A Catholic Church at the Manzanar War Relocation Center, 1943. Courtesy of the University of Southern California Libraries.

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    Catholic Church at Japanese Relocation Camp
    • Date
    • 1943
    • Description
    • Photograph of the Catholic Church in the Japanese Relocation Camp, Manzanar, California. A man in a light colored jacket stands in front of the building. The building's facade has two screened doors and a simple pediment with a crucifix on top. The e... more
      Photograph of the Catholic Church in the Japanese Relocation Camp, Manzanar, California. A man in a light colored jacket stands in front of the building. The building's facade has two screened doors and a simple pediment with a crucifix on top. The entire structure is covered in tar paper and strips of wood. less
    • Rights
    • Http://maryknollmissionarchives.org/?page_id=1917 ; Maryknoll Mission and Diakonia Archives, VID Specialized University. Http://maryknollmissionarchives.org/?page_id=17. Maryknoll Mission and Diakonia Archives, VID Specialized University. Maryknoll M... more
      Http://maryknollmissionarchives.org/?page_id=1917 ; Maryknoll Mission and Diakonia Archives, VID Specialized University. Http://maryknollmissionarchives.org/?page_id=17. Maryknoll Mission and Diakonia Archives, VID Specialized University. Maryknoll Mission Archives, P.O. Box 305, Maryknoll, N.Y. 10545-0305; http://maryknollmissionarchives.org/. Archives@maryknoll.org ; http://maryknollmissionarchives.org/?page_id=1669. less
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    • University of Southern California Libraries
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    • University of Southern California. Libraries

  • Catholic Mass in a chapel at the Manzanar War Relocation Center, 1941. Courtesy of the University of Southern California Libraries.

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    Catholic Mass at the chapel at Japanese Relocation Camp
    • Date
    • 1941
    • Description
    • Photograph of the interior of the Catholic chapel in the Japanese Relocation Camp in Manzanar, California. The view is from the rear of the chapel up the main aisle towards the Priest saying Mass. One can see the exposed wooden ceiling beams above. T... more
      Photograph of the interior of the Catholic chapel in the Japanese Relocation Camp in Manzanar, California. The view is from the rear of the chapel up the main aisle towards the Priest saying Mass. One can see the exposed wooden ceiling beams above. The congregation is standing in front of beds which double as benches for the Mass. less
    • Rights
    • Http://maryknollmissionarchives.org/?page_id=1917 ; Maryknoll Mission and Diakonia Archives, VID Specialized University. Http://maryknollmissionarchives.org/?page_id=17. Maryknoll Mission and Diakonia Archives, VID Specialized University. Maryknoll M... more
      Http://maryknollmissionarchives.org/?page_id=1917 ; Maryknoll Mission and Diakonia Archives, VID Specialized University. Http://maryknollmissionarchives.org/?page_id=17. Maryknoll Mission and Diakonia Archives, VID Specialized University. Maryknoll Mission Archives, P.O. Box 305, Maryknoll, N.Y. 10545-0305; http://maryknollmissionarchives.org/. Archives@maryknoll.org ; http://maryknollmissionarchives.org/?page_id=1669. less
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    • University of Southern California Libraries
    • Contributing Institution
    • University of Southern California. Libraries

  • A priest praying inside the chapel at the Granada Relocation Camp in Colorado, 1941. Courtesy of the University of Southern California Libraries.

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    Priest praying in the Catholic Chapel at Granada Japanese Relocation Camp
    • Date
    • 1941
    • Creator
    • Unknown
    • Description
    • Photograph of a Maryknoll Priest praying inside the chapel at the Granada Relocation Camp in Colorado. One can see the altar, on which are vases of flowers, six candle sticks and the tabernacle. The Chi Rho symbol decorates the front of the altar.
    • Rights
    • Http://maryknollmissionarchives.org/?page_id=1917 ; Maryknoll Mission and Diakonia Archives, VID Specialized University. Http://maryknollmissionarchives.org/?page_id=17. Maryknoll Mission and Diakonia Archives, VID Specialized University. Maryknoll M... more
      Http://maryknollmissionarchives.org/?page_id=1917 ; Maryknoll Mission and Diakonia Archives, VID Specialized University. Http://maryknollmissionarchives.org/?page_id=17. Maryknoll Mission and Diakonia Archives, VID Specialized University. Maryknoll Mission Archives, P.O. Box 305, Maryknoll, N.Y. 10545-0305; http://maryknollmissionarchives.org/. Archives@maryknoll.org ; http://maryknollmissionarchives.org/?page_id=1669. less
    • Partner
    • University of Southern California Libraries
    • Contributing Institution
    • University of Southern California. Libraries

The internment camps were laid out like small towns that included typical worship spaces such as churches. Much of the photographic documentation of Japanese internment camps focuses on Christian facilities for religious practice. Multiple Christian denominations were prominent in the interned communities, as well as more traditional Buddhist practices like Shintoism. Since camp administrators could not enforce the religious needs of internees, both religions flourished in the camps.

Camp religious centers and organizations were multifunctional. Buildings differed in size and quality, and often served multiple purposes. Regardless of the space’s condition, camp religious centers provided community, education, and even amenities. Christian-run organizations often took responsibility for providing equipment, serving social needs, and organizing camp-wide activities and festivities. Camp religious spaces served not only as important physical places, they also played a vital psychological role as safe spaces for internees.