Department of Public Health Regulations on Water Faucet Use in Poston

Article published by Poston Chronicle depicting regulations of faucet usage in Department of Public Health

On October 4th, 1943, a newspaper article was published in the Poston Chronicle highlighting the regulation of faucet and water usage in the Japanese relocation center barracks located in Poston, Arizona. The regulations, which were released by the camp’s Department of Public Health, clearly outlined certain guidelines for the Japanese American internees in regards to what was allowed and what was not permitted with the faucets located in the barracks. As a pioneer health educator, Jean decided to clip this article and keep it in her collection of papers in order to expose the water problem in Poston’s center. The restrictions outlined in this document were intended to boost hygiene practices but ultimately had little impact on improving the hygiene and health of Japanese internees located in the Poston relocation center.

Poston’s camp was the largest of all relocation sites. Located on the Arizona side of the Colorado River, the Poston area spanned across 72,000 acres with a population of around 18,000. Within Poston, there were three main cantonments, known as Poston I, II and III that were bounded by a fence. Each cantonment had barracks where living conditions were very cramped for families (Jean 2). Because the Colorado River was located 2.5 miles west of the center of camp and also located in the lower Sonora desert, the Poston center experienced extreme weather conditions with hot and humid summers and incredibly cold winters (Burton, Farrell, Lord). Dust also posed a large problem on the internees (PJD 161). During the afternoons, the harsh sun would make working very hard for people located in the camps. There were multiple dust storms that struck the relocation center, coating everything in silt and dust, ranging from building structures, books and internees hair and clothes (Jean 2). Because of its geographical location and the issue surrounding dust and heat, it was very important for Poston relocation center to have proper access to water around the camp. Each residential area held its own water pump plant as well as a sewage plant, which included pump houses, steel tanks, clarifiers and digesters (Burton, Farrell, Lord).

It is interesting to note that Poston relocation center set restrictions on water usage in spite of the intense weather conditions, as this posed a large threat on the health of those residing in Poston. The publication of the article by the Department of Public Health in Poston stated that the regulations were being enforced because of the “indiscriminate faucet use within barracks,” signifying that attendees in the relocation center were not only wasteful of their water sources but they used water at random times. The first rule stated that forms of laundry and dish washing were prohibited. In typical relocation centers, such as Poston, most dishes were done at the mess halls. However at assembly camps, such as Tanforan, members were able to carry their dirty dishes to the washing counter and use soap to clean the big piles of dishes (Okubo 41). Both Poston and Tanforan had laundry buildings set up. However, in Tanforan, there were indications that there was a “continual lack of hot water” and the rooms for laundry were located far away (Okubo 69). As the regulations listed in the article were already restrictive to begin with, it appears that some camps also experienced issues with purely accessing simple things, like the hot water.

Another restriction mentioned in the document was that morning and evening toilet within the barrack, such as brushing teeth and washing faces was prohibited and only allowed in the latrine. The next stated that there must be a suitable waste receptacle, like a bucket to collect water from underneath the faucet and the wastewater must be disposed of in the latrine. The last regulation was that when bathing was necessitated by the aged or by infants, the used water must be disposed of in the latrine (Poston Chronicle). Because the latrines in most camps were located farther away, this required internees in the camp to travel long distances just to dispose of the dirty water. For example, in the Manzanar camp, people had to go to latrines “two city blocks away” just to use a working toilet (Houston 22). This was a huge inconvenience for the internees not only in that the latrines were far away, but also they were usually crowded so sometimes people went later in the day (Houston 24).

Letter addressed to Dr. A Pressman discussing the sanitation issues with drinking water

The guidelines surrounding the use of the faucets within the barracks in Poston regulated laundry use, dish washing, bathing and disposal issues, but never addressed the actual consumption of water in the camp. However, there were also sanitation issues surrounding drinking water. In a letter addressed to Dr. A. Pressman from Sally Lucas Jean on April 10th, 1945, she states, “something should be done to work out a plan for safe methods of drinking water” (Jean 53). The letter addresses the issue of the drinking facilities in the Poston school and brings up the issue that the problem surrounding sanitation for children remains unsolved. In the letter, Jean talks about her concern with how children are placing their mouths directly over the spout, causing a means of spreading disease among the children. She worries about the infantile paralysis running in the community and its connection to the water faucets.

The letter from Sally Jean Lucas acts as a complement to the first article released by the Department of Public Health that was published in 1943. It appears that two years after its publication, the Poston relocation camp continued to struggle with sanitation issues surrounding water and hygiene remained a major problem. The regulations imposed in the Department of Public Health’s first article aimed toward better water faucet practices, but in the end did not really have much of an impact on the Poston relocation center.


– Lulu Zhong


Works Cited

“Department of Public Health Gives Regulations Regarding Use of Faucets within Barracks.” Folder 74: Scan 8, in the Sally Lucas Jean papers #4290, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“Work That Needs To Be Done In The Near Future.” Folder 74: Scan 53, in the Sally Lucas Jean papers #4290, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“Health Education in A Japanese Relocation Centre.” Folder 75, in the Sally Lucas Jean papers #4290, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Okubo, Miné. Citizen 13660. Seattle: University of Washington, 1983. Print.

Houston, Jeanne Wakatsuki., and James D. Houston. Farewell to Manzanar. New York: Bantam, 1983. Print.

Burton, J., M. Farrell, F. Lord, and R. Lord. “Poston Relocation Center.” National Park Service: Confinement and Ethnicity. ParkNet, 1 Sept. 2000. Web. 


Letter from Dept. of Public Health about the Care of the Premature Baby

Poston Public Health Document

A document was sent from the Department of Public Health to an incarceration camp in Poston, Arizona in August 1943, titled “Important Points on the Care of the Premature Baby.”  It explains the steps that need to be taken to carry out three important requirements for the care of a premature baby: the baby should be kept warm, protected against infection, and well nourished.  The instructions provide an insight on how premature infants were cared for in Poston. The document was possibly most relevant to Mrs. Miure, the public health nurse of the camp (“Medical Personnel”).

Although health care in the internment camps was free, it proved to be inadequate in many different ways.  There were frequent shortages in equipment, medicine, milk, and other supplies; additionally, there was a shortage in medical personnel, especially nurses, which caused many overworked doctors/nurses and treatment delays.  The shortage of nurses was so significant that internees were trained as nurse’s aides in a rushed and insufficient training program (PJD 163-164).

By comparing these instructions to those in the American Journal of Nursing of 1945, we see a number of omissions in the Public Health document.  The first requirement that is elaborated upon in the document is the need to keep the baby warm.  The instructions state that upon delivery of the baby, he/she should be wrapped in a warm blanket and placed into a warm bed.  There are many specific points that are left out such as the temperature of the bed.

Cheiko Neeno, a Nurse's Aide student at the Poston Hospital, feeding a baby in the children's ward

According to the American Journal of Nursing, as the infant develops and weighs more, the temperature of the heated bed should gradually decrease.  Infants need to be kept in an environment of a specific temperature based on their weight.  Infants that weigh less than three pounds need a bed that is maintained at 90 degrees (F), infants of 3-4 pounds need 85 degrees, infants of 4-5 pounds need 80 degrees, and infants of 5 ½ pounds need 75 degrees.  Also, the document states that the temperature of the room should be kept at a constant rate between 75 and 80 degrees; however, this is not entirely accurate.

Although a 75-80 degree room temperature works for most infants, it cannot be set in stone for every one of them.  The temperature may be adjusted to cater to the needs of any particular infant based on his/her reaction to the environment.  In addition, as the temperature decreases, the humidity requirement increases; the ideal humidity is noted to be approximately 55 to 65 percent (Wallinger 898).  The humidity of the baby’s environment is just as important as the temperature, however this valuable information is absent in the Public Health document as well.  Although it does state, “If the air is very dry, moisture should be added so as to prevent drying out of the baby’s respiratory tract,” it does not identify/explain the device used to measure the air’s dryness, nor does it specify how much moisture should be added to the air.

However, Poston was located in a dry, hot desert, where aspects of the indoor environment, such as temperature and humidity, may have been difficult to control.  Similarly, the Gila River incarceration camp was located in the middle of a desert.  The incarcerees at Gila constructed their own homemade cooling systems, in which a fan would blow out air that was cooled by a water source.  The makeshift air conditioning system allowed the people to live in 80-degree rooms when the weather was up to 100-115 degrees (Hoshida).  It is reasonable to believe that the incarcerees at Poston may have also had to create their own A/C units to ward off the harsh outdoor heat.  As for the Poston hospital, an exact depiction of the A/C system used there remains questionable, but it may be assumed that it was not advanced and flexible enough to maintain an absolutely ideal environment for all of the premature infants.

To protect the infant from infection, the Public Health document includes a few precautions that should be taken, one being that flies, mosquitoes, and all other insects should be kept out of the room.  This is indicated as a precaution because it may have been a major issue in the hospital due to its poor conditions, which allowed insects to easily make their way into rooms.  Also, it is important to point out that the instructions omitted the necessity of an “observation room” where any seemingly ill premature infants could have been moved to and checked up on; the separation of well-infants and ill-infants would prevent any illnesses from spreading (Wallinger 900).

As for the instructions regarding the nourishing of the baby, this section seems more thorough than the instructions for the other two requirements.  The instructions state that the infant does not need to be fed milk or water for up to 12 hours after its birth; however, it could have been up to 18 hours, or even longer, to make sure that the infant developed a gagging reflex before it was fed by mouth (Wallinger 899).  Obviously, it was extremely important for infants, premature and mature, to be fed milk to benefit their health and development.  In the oral history of Aiko Herzig, a mother who had given birth to her daughter in one of the internment camps, as well as a significant leader and activist throughout the redress movement in the 1980’s, she mentioned that her child was born with an allergy to the powdered milk provided by the camp.  Herzig should have fed her canned Carnation milk, but the medical personnel told her that those were only sent to the armed forces.  Herzig, who received minimum salary, could not afford to buy canned milk from outside of the camp.  As a result, her daughter was frequently hospitalized with stomach disorders because she was deprived from the appropriate type of milk.  She lacked much of the nutrition that would have been provided by canned milk during her infantry, which has affected her health for the rest of her life (Herzig interview).  The Public Health document did not distinguish what type of milk would be the most appropriate to feed to the infants because Poston presumably only had powdered milk as well, which only adds to the numerous inadequacies found in the document and in the camp’s health care.

By Tammy Chen

Works Cited

Aiko Herzig, interview by Emiko Omori and Chizu Omori, 20 Mar. 1994, Emiko and Chizuko

Omori Collection, Densho.

Hoshida, George Y.  Life of a Japanese Immigrant Boy in Hawaii &

America.  Self-published, 1982.

“Important Points on the Care of the Premature Baby Aug. 1943” Folder 74, in the Sally Lucas

Jean papers #4290, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“Medical Personnel,” in the Sally Lucas Jean papers #4290, Southern Historical Collection, The

Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Wallinger, Elgie M. “Nursing Care of the Premature Infant.” The American Journal of Nursing

45.11 (1945): 898-901. Web. 1 Mar. 2012.


Report on Segregation to Tule Lake (Part I)

This document is an informational update from the Nursing Department to the Heath and Sanitation Department at Poston, Arizona’s Japanese American internment camp. The Supervisor of Nursing, Elna Rood, is alerting Dr. Pressman, the head of Health and Sanitation of some changes regarding those Japanese-Americans with special medical needs. The letter is an update on the Public Health Nursing activities for the months July-September of 1943, dated September 18th, 1943. Rood describes the processes and demographic data for segregating Japanese Americans from Poston to Tule Lake that have special medical needs (Rood).

Residents were moved Tule Lake based on their answers, “no-no” to the WRA’s Loyalty Questionnaire. Disloyal internees at Poston were promptly moved to Tule Lake. The organization for transportation of those with special needs was the priority of the Nursing Department’s efforts for weeks. Sally Lucas Jean herself was not directly involved with this process, though the medical staff at Poston spent the summer of 1943 gathering data from different wings of the medical facilities at the camp. This data would help them organize and prepare for the mass transportation of special needs people effectively via train. Information collected included x-ray information, dental information, and hospital records (Rood).  This information was all processed by the Nursing Department to organize and prepare. It was their job to assure that medical staff, equipment, and special diets would be available to those in need on the train. The main concern of the Nursing Department was ensuring a well-staffed and relatively safe travel for these patients from Poston, Arizona to Tule Lake, California (Rood).

A total of one hundred forty nine patients with special medical needs were forced to move to Tule Lake in 1943.  If one member of a family was to be segregated based on loyalty, the entire family could choose to leave also (Japanese American). Some conditions that required special attention on the train included pregnancy, disability, severe illness, communicable disease, young infants, and need for post-operational care (Rood).


There are a few main reasons why this segregation took place. Poston was a camp where only US-loyal Japanese Americans resided, and was where many soldiers were drawn for the US Army (Higa 59). Removing disloyal internees from Poston was seen as homogenizing the camp as disloyal Japanese Americans were moved to Tule Lake. The Poston Strike of 1942 also paved the way for this segregation when issei males revolted against the block-leaders. Post-strike, Poston administrators, the WRA, and block leaders tightened their grip and control over the residents (Higa 109). Moving disloyal Japanese Americans would help them to keep a closer eye on the type of resident: issei males. These men had the highest potential for demonstrating pro-Japanese sentiments and for causing riots in the camp because of the prejudice against them. This memo was also sent in the year when Poston reached its population peak of 17,814 residents (Japanese American). Due to the high population, the Poston administrators felt even more pressure to segregate Japanese-Americans as soon as possible.

In the 1940’s, the interstate train ride was very long and unsanitary (Japanese American).  In Okubo’s account of her train ride from Tanforan Assembly Center to Topaz, she describes the train rides as “old and dusty,” and “completely dark and very hot.” Okubo also includes that the train ride was “a nightmare” with few stops and sick people in very close proximity (Okubo 110-118). In an interview, another internee, Hideo Hoshide describes his train ride to Tule Lake where he could not even find a way to heat up the baby formula for his daughter during the week long ride (Uncomfortable). Here, however, the Nursing Department seems to be taking more impressive measures to protect the health of the special needs travelers as well as protect the healthy travelers. Those with communicable diseases were to be quarantined, diabetics given proper foods, babies given proper foods, and cripples kept under supervision of the train doctor (Rood). It can be drawn that from this contradiction that these impressive measures may have not been carried out. According to Hoshide’s account of the train ride, extensive measures for a safe and sanitary transport are not always carried out. Rood’s memo reads impressively, but further research about the actual conditions of the bus ride are needed to verify that Poston’s train system was indeed as sanitary as it seems.

Savannah Jacaruso

Works Cited

Higa, Karin M. The View from Within: Japanese American Art from the Internment Camps, 1942-1945. [Los Angeles, Calif.]: Japanese American National Museum, 1994. Print.

Hideo Hoshide Interview I Segment 53 January 26 & 27, 2006.  Interview by Tom Ikeda. Densho Digital Archive. Web. <>.

Japanese American History: An A to Z Reference, 1868 to the Present, Brian Niiya. New York: Facts on File, 1993.

Okubo, Miné. Citizen 13660. Seattle: University of Washington, 1983. Print.

Rood, Elna. “Segregation To Tule Lake.” Letter to Dr. Pressman. 18 Sept. 1943. Southern Historical Collection. Web. <http://,217661>.