examined in order to show the historical significance of Nisei women in shaping and managingthe actions of the JACL in the Pacific Northwest. Nearly a decade’s worth of primary documents from the Portland chapter of the JACLwas examined and demonstrated that women did, indeed, play a role in the organization.Exploring the meeting minutes from 1931-1939 will aid in giving voice to the numerous Niseiwomen who served in the JACL. Through a case study of the Portland group, this essay willdemonstrate the role of women in the JACL through answering first, how these womencontributed to the organization and second, why this contribution is pushed aside in thedominant, lasting image of the JACL. Although I found that there was a decrease in Niseiwomen participation about halfway through the decade, this shift can be viewed as related to thegender expectations of Japanese American women in the role of wife and mother, as well as a possible reason why Nisei women are excluded from contemporary public memory. Even withJapanese American women’s participation in organizations decreasing in the late 1930’s, theywere still vital to the politicization of the Japanese American community. In this essay, then, Iwill argue that during the 1930’s and based on primary sources, Nisei women in the Portlandchapter of the JACL, although not valorized in contemporary public memory, held importantroles as community-builders of the JACL and Japanese American social networks of the Pacific Northwest.
Prewar, Preexistence: The Japanese American community, 1930-1939
Nisei women of the 1930’s lived within a specific historical context of JapaneseAmericans unique to America. Contextualizing my research will help bring historicalsignificance to this study for American history and society, so I will offer historical background2