ASSEMBLY CENTERS UNDER THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE WARTIME CIVIL CONTROL ADMINISTRATION
Compulsory mass evacuation began on March 30, 1942. Until August 8, groups of Japanese left their homes for assembly centers, directed by one of the 108 civilian exclusion orders. The WCCA attempted, not always successfully, to place people in centers close to their homes. Sixteen assembly centers (a list of the centers and their average population, total days occupied, dates of occupancy, and maximum population may be seen on the following page) were established by the WCCA to provide temporary facilities for the Japanese evacuees before they would be transferred to permanent relocation centers. Thirteen of the centers were in California, one (Puyallup) was in Washington, one (Portland) was in Oregon, and one (Mayer) was in Arizona. The thirteen centers in California included Marysville, Sacramento, Tanforan, Stockton, Turlock, Salinas, Merced, Pinedale, Fresno, Tulare, Santa Anita, Pomona, and Manzanar. Two of the assembly center sites were converted race tracks (Santa Anita and Tanforan), one was a rodeo ground (Salinas), and nine were fairgrounds (Marysville, Stockton, Turlock, Merced, Fresno, Tulare, Portland, Puyallup, and Pomona). 
As mentioned in Chapter 3 of this study, the Manzanar and Poston (officially designated the Colorado River Relocation Center) assembly centers were intended initially as "reception centers." They were to be operated by the Army during the initial phases of evacuation. Manzanar remained under the administration of the WCCA (and thus functioned generally as an assembly center) from its opening in mid-March until June 1, 1942, when it was transferred to the War Relocation Authority for use as a permanent relocation center. In June, Mayer was closed down, and its inhabitants were transferred to Poston, a WRA-operated relocation center established on a former Arizona Indian reservation. Direct evacuation to both of these centers was substantial. In the War Department's Final Report, DeWitt observed that 9,830 evacuees were moved directly to Manzanar. and 11,711 were evacuated directly to Poston, thus eliminating the need for additional assembly center capacity. 
Assembly centers were planned for use for short periods of time, their sole purpose being to serve as points of concentration and confinement until the War Relocation Authority could establish permanent relocation centers. Because of wartime difficulties in construction and transportation, as well as a shortage of building materials, however, the period of assembly center operation extended for approximately seven and one-half months. The assembly center operations program extended for 224 days from the opening of Manzanar on March 21 to the closing of Fresno on October 30. Exclusive of Manzanar. the Santa Anita Assembly Center, located at a racetrack in Los Angeles, had the longest period of occupancy and the largest number of residents 215 days with an average population of 12,919. During much of this period, the population of Santa Anita was more than 18,000.  Next in order of length of evacuee occupancy were Fresno, 178 days; Tanforan, 169 days; and Stockton, 161 days. On the other hand, the center at Mayer was closed after 27 days, Sacramento after 52 days, Marysville after 53 days, Salinas after 69 days, and Pinedale after 78 days. 
Figure 5: U.S. War Department, Final Report, p. 227.
Last Updated: 01-Jan-2002