This simple chest of drawers tells so much about its maker and the conditions under which it was made. When individuals were taken from their homes, they were told they could bring only what they could carry, and this meant they could not take any large furnishings. Upon arriving at the barracks—their new, hastily-constructed homes—the families found that the spaces were small, uncomfortable, impersonal, and unfurnished.

Under these conditions, individuals began to settle in and rebuild the comforts of home inside the concentration camps using the materials available to them. This sense of perseverance and craftsmanship reflects the Japanese Americans’ dignity and desire to make the best life for themselves, their families, and their community even in these conditions of unjust imprisonment.