Prewar, Preexistence (research paper) | Portland | Pacific Northwest

Jillian Toda Professor Griffith HIST-342: Creating Asian America 12/13/10 Prewar, Preexistence: The Role of Nisei Women

in the Portland Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) and Public Memory, 1931-1939

“Did you find anything interesting?” my mom had asked back in September. She was referring to my grandma’s 1937 “souvenir program” from the Fourth Biennial Northwest District Convention of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL). Indeed, I discovered very interesting things from the program: the “JACL Pep Song,” an ad for my maternal, greatgrandfather’s Pasco restaurant, and my paternal grandma’s name on the list of JACL officers in the Northwest.1 How could this be when the JACL was, in my mind, an activist organization that old, Nisei (second generation) men were part of? This curiosity coupled with a desire for personal history motivated me into action through research, and what follows are the conclusions I’ve found to answer this question, for myself and society. After discovering my grandma’s involvement in the Mid-Columbia JACL chapter, the purpose of this research was to uncover other women who had similar experiences in this political group. Even growing up within a Japanese American household, the memory of the JACL that was remembered and passed to kin was one in which the group was too political for women to participate in. Dominant society has created standards for what’s considered the “norm,” as defined by White people. This dominant cultural view holds a public memory that often excludes marginalized groups of people—such as people of color—but digging further can produce alternative perspectives that show how history is constructed.2 In my research, the construction of Japanese American women’s identity in America during the 1930’s will be 1

examined in order to show the historical significance of Nisei women in shaping and managing the actions of the JACL in the Pacific Northwest. Nearly a decade’s worth of primary documents from the Portland chapter of the JACL was 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 Nisei women who served in the JACL. Through a case study of the Portland group, this essay will demonstrate the role of women in the JACL through answering first, how these women contributed to the organization and second, why this contribution is pushed aside in the dominant, lasting image of the JACL. Although I found that there was a decrease in Nisei women participation about halfway through the decade, this shift can be viewed as related to the gender 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 with Japanese American women’s participation in organizations decreasing in the late 1930’s, they were still vital to the politicization of the Japanese American community. In this essay, then, I will argue that during the 1930’s and based on primary sources, Nisei women in the Portland chapter of the JACL, although not valorized in contemporary public memory, held important roles 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 Japanese Americans unique to America. Contextualizing my research will help bring historical significance to this study for American history and society, so I will offer historical background


on the Japanese American community. Using that foundational knowledge coupled with scholarly works, I will then discuss the relevance of history to the meeting minutes of the Portland JACL while answering the questions and goals posed for this essay. Lastly, from the examination of primary documents alongside historical, scholarly perspectives, I will infer the implications of what this history means within today’s perspective, with specific regard to the collective memory of dominant, White society. This case study will ultimately reveal how history is created; with the opportunity of one narrative, another is silenced. The collective Japanese American community has been silenced throughout history, with scholarly work often oppressing perspectives that challenged the notions of what a “good” Japanese American should be.3 Today, there is a dominant view of who a Japanese American is, which usually includes a male JACL member from either Seattle or urban California. Furthermore, dominant culture sees the historical significance of Japanese Americans as beginning during World War II and being almost entirely centered on internment. The aim of this essay is to uncover the stories of identities not remembered or acknowledged in dominant society. Addressing such issues widens the “big picture” of Japanese American community through inclusion of voices who were active, female, and rural in comparison to Californian or Seattleite JACL members, in the prewar era. These women were left out of what was deemed important enough to remember in history. It is important for us to realize, however, that stories not remembered do not necessarily equate absence. Through researching the Portland JACL, it is apparent that women were indeed active in the organization, demonstrating the omissions that history too often holds.4 Japanese American Nisei “grew up integrating both the Japanese ways of their parents and the mainstream customs of their non-Japanese friends and classmates.”5 This group of


individuals had many shared experiences due to their Japanese upbringing in America. As Matsumoto points out, though, “Because of the wide age range among them and the diversity of their early experiences in various urban and rural areas, it is difficult to generalize about the Nisei.”6 While most Nisei grew up with strong community and familial ties, their participation in church groups and social clubs somewhat varied with whether they resided on rural farmlands or more urbanized cities.7 For example, urban Nisei tended to have more time to participate in leisure groups, which explains why the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) was formed in Seattle rather than in the still-developing Portland. Valerie Matsumoto points out that, “Country Nisei hoed weeds, irrigated fields, drove tractors, and tended their younger siblings. In addition to fieldwork, girls were expected to fulfill domestic duties. Their urban counterparts helped in their families’ small businesses.”8 It was out of this urban lifestyle and sense of “Americanism” that the Seattle Progressive Citizens’ League turned into the JACL in 1930, starting the long account of JACL activism.9 Many scholars have written specifically on the Nisei in the JACL because they were viewed as “different” from the typical second-generation Japanese Americans in California and Seattle. Lon Kurashige states that JACLers “differed significantly from the bulk of their own generation. They were overwhelmingly male despite equal numbers of Nisei women in Los Angeles and were about a decade older than the majority of their peers in the second generation.”10 While this may have been true for urban Nisei, in the more rural Oregon, Nisei women participants in the outlying Portland chapters of the JACL—such as the Mid-Columbia group—were much younger than those described by Kurashige.11 This fact illustrates how regionalism played an important role in shaping different communities of Nisei JACL members, and also fleshes out the multiple perspectives of the JACL chapters.


An important perspective to consider, then, is of the female JACL members. During the prewar period, Nisei girls were mainly attracted to “mainstream American” activities and social networking.12 These girls were raised with traditional aspects in their lives, like Oshogatsu celebrations and using the ofuro at night, but they were also concerned with dating and how to be an ideal woman for future husbands, much like other American girls.13 As the 1930s went on, more and more Nisei girls became active in their middle and high schools, forming clubs and, in Portland, a YWCA (Young Women’s Christian Association) that “stood alone as a femalecentered organization that offered Nisei girls and young women structured opportunities for mainstream community integration.”14 The existence of these clubs, guided with hints from the meeting minutes of the Portland JACL, suggests that Nisei women in the 1930’s were significantly active. Turning to the primary sources, an image of how this participation played a role in the Portland JACL will be formed.

Social Significance: Nisei Women in the Portland JACL, 1931-1939 Nisei women throughout the Northwest were involved in JACL chapters, and by looking at the Portland, Oregon JACL, the role of these women can be seen in two parts;15 first, as active participants constrained to specific roles within the organization, and second, as agents of social responsibility in community building. The JACL was a form of social networking for Nisei women, so it is unclear whether they were forced into positions like social function coordinators and tea hostesses because of accepted ideals of the domestic sphere that they grew up with, or because growing they enjoyed and chose to bear the burden of nurturing their communities. Nevertheless, the roles of these women were an integral part of the organization’s functioning in the first half of the 1930s. Through their participation in social organizing and aid in the club’s


political matters, Nisei women—nearly as much as Nisei men—laid the foundation of the Japanese American Citizens League in Portland. In the Portland JACL, the role of women was both political and social in the early 1930s. Miss Ikuko Okada reported at the JACL meeting on October 9th, 1931 about the “social round table discussions” from a convention, showing the importance of women’s participation in conferences for the JACL.16 As demonstrated by a photo of a large social hosted by the Seattle JACL and another of the founding members of the Puyallup Valley JACL, women were a large part of this organization and its functions.17 Interpreting why so many Nisei women were active in the JACL is revealing. They likely had investments in political action against the Oregon Alien Land Law, which the JACL worked to defeat.18 Like most young women, however, Nisei girls viewed the JACL as a way to meet other Japanese Americans, especially if they were single.19 A balance between expectations for women and desires to be politically active had to form. This balance was present throughout the Portland meeting minutes, demonstrating how gender differences distanced Nisei women from Nisei men. Even aside from women volunteering for social organizing and secretarial positions, they were guided into these roles by Nisei men who saw using their feminine qualities as a way to expand the JACL. During the early 1930s, the Portland chapter was eager to create recognition for the growing organization through the formation of more chapters in the Northwest region. Facilitation of JACL’s growth was demonstrated by the Portland chapter’s willingness to meet with the newly formed Hood River group and the desire to “organize a committee” to pique the interest of the “Gresham Young Folk” group in forming a JACL chapter.20 When the Northwest District Council formed in 1931 to promote “closer cooperation among JACLs in the Northwest,” the Portland chapter unanimously elected Mrs. T. Yamada to sit as a member.21 This


election was a victory for a Nisei woman being recognized as a desirable delegate, but also reinforces the domestic ideals of women being nurturing and skilled in promoting cooperation with others. Furthermore, in the same meeting, the Portland chapter president appointed a committee for the JACL Social, which was headed by “chairman” Miss Okada. Here, the ideal Nisei woman is expected to be organized and strong in planning a social event, which shows how it is acceptable for a Nisei man to be subordinate to a woman in a position of power only when the project is a social gathering that fits within accepted, feminine values. JACL men utilized the power of Nisei women’s social networking to build stronger connections within the JACL chapters and other clubs in the Northwest. There was frequent mention of communication with California chapters, as well as national JACL president James Sakamoto. Also, the Portland chapter had some of their regular meetings in early 1932 at the Social Hall of the main YWCA. On one such occasion, Mrs. T Yamada also explained the procedure of registering to vote, which was highly encouraged during this time.22 It is possible that Mrs. Yamada was a member of both the YWCA and JACL, illustrating how some Nisei women likely bridged the gap between the two organizations, and even provided the JACL with lodging for their meetings. Similarly, a JACL-sponsored dance in 1933 was hosted in the “Women’s Club Building.”23 The power of socializing seemed comparable to any political influence Nisei men could have possessed. By mid-decade, the JACL membership swelled, as its following transcended club members, as community members began to recognize the dances, Teas, and festivals that the Portland, Mid-Columbia, and Puyallup Valley JACL chapters became known for. The Portland minutes state that 150 members attended a Tea hosted by Mrs. Nakamura with the help of the “ladies of the Portland chapter” at the reception. Such tea events became regular programs for


the Portland chapter Nisei women to host, as well as the annual “Basket Social.”24 In fact, during a meeting that listed activities for the year, only three of the eight major events were not socialbased activities.25 Promoting “fun” activities shows the strategic planning of the JACL in including the community, especially as the Portland JACL during 1934 was still trying to “urge the young people to attend the meetings of the League.”26 Through the use of Nisei women’s skills in organizing social events that appealed to wider audiences—especially the community not involved in the JACL—the Portland chapter increased its recognition. Events hosted by other Northwest JACL chapters paralleled these efforts to include the community. Communities sometimes looked different from the more urban city of Portland, as was the case with the Mid-Columbia JACL, which sponsored a Fishing Derby for its community. This group included several agricultural towns, so the fishing derby was held in multiple spots, such as Hood River, White Salmon, and The Dalles.27 Likewise, the Puyallup Valley JACL was rurally located, and held a Japanese bazaar which they called “Japan Night” for community members. The event was highly attended, featured women of the JACL performing Japanese dances and sharing “ancient culture,” as well as a mix of both Japanese and American foods.28 Just as the Portland JACL was trying to branch out to wider audiences in order to gain greater recognition, so too were other chapters throughout the Northwest. Transcending regional differences, the JACL chapters of the Northwest during the first half of the 1930s were all searching for a following, and more importantly, the power gained from a following. This power that Nisei women within the JACL possessed had developed with their increased participation in committees, and delegation or appointment to heading social function groups for events such as the Basket social and Halloween dance.29 Another very popular annual event was the oratorical contest held by the JACL. This contest was dominated by women, who


often gave speeches on generational issues specific to the Nisei generation.30 Whether this dominance is some natural, female knack for oratory or something else is unclear and difficult to conclude; however, the large participation of women in this field suggests that Nisei women had agency in choosing to speak on political topics and issues. Through their participation in social events, Nisei women also gained a platform to assert their political opinions. Balancing this political assertion with the expectations of how Japanese American women should behave eventually became tiresome for some Nisei women, as records show a slight decrease in women members of the Portland JACL chapter beginning in 1934 and continuing through the second half of the decade.31 Secretary Ruth Nomura resigned in September of 1935 for reasons unstated.32 While there was no overt statement about wanting to change the JACL organization, by 1939, the minutes note ideas thought of by the Portland group on how to make meetings more appealing to members in order create a “less formal” atmosphere. Recommendations to the new cabinet members of the Portland chapter even included things like making “meetings more sociable” and working on “inclusivity” to make members “feel proud.”33 It is probable that such issues of formality and inclusivity caused some women to drop out of the Portland JACL. While some women enjoyed the political activism part of the JACL, they were constrained by dominant social norms that saw politics as unladylike. These women were likely ostracized by dominant society for being “uppity,” which only added to the barriers that they faced not only on the basis of their race, but also their gender. While issues of citizenship and politics increased as the decade wore on—as well as increased anti-Japanese sentiment on the eve of WWII—women were increasingly excluded from JACL activity because of the restraints put on them by the intersection of their racial and gender identities.


One of the issues raised in the latter half of the 1930s that increased the JACL’s political activity was the Sino-Japanese War. Nisei women who previously dominated the social functions and community building aspects of the first half of the decade were pushed aside and replaced by this pressing topic. After the invasion of China by Japan, there were numerous speeches, discussions, and formal presentations throughout the JACL chapters from 1937 on.34 Despite America being opposed to Japanese imperialism, Lon Kurashige claims that JACLers “sided with their parents, who, like most expatriates, reveled in the military victories of their homeland” so that the “Sino-Japan crisis” actually “heightened ties to the motherland, as both generations sent money, supplies, and well-wishes to Japanese soldiers.”35 At the same time, the idea of “Americanism” raged through nearly all JACL chapters, as National JACL president James Sakamoto visited conventions and individual chapters to talk about dualism and the “duties” of Niseis as American citizens. These ideas created difficulty for Nisei women to support their “motherland” in political actions alongside Nisei men, when White, dominant society told them to retreat into their domestic roles as American wives.36 It is implied in the minutes of the Portland JACL meetings that women were the backbone of the society brought together by the Japanese American Citizens League. Through their work as socializing experts, membership swelled during the mid-1930s because of successful events such as the Basket social and oratorical contests. The mid-decade saw the slow decline in participation of women due to the JACL’s increased political engagement that grew out of President Sakamoto’s “Americanism” reaction to anti-Japanese feelings directly before WWII. This dissipation of women from the organization paralleled the dissipation of women from the post-WWII public memory of the JACL itself. Over time, few knew what great work


the Nisei women of the Portland JACL chapter achieved, erasing these important history-makers from contemporary historical knowledge.

Reclamation: Finding the Narrative of Nisei Women of the JACL, 1931-1939 Through this examination of Portland JACL meeting minutes, it was my duty as historian to (re)construct the portrait of a marginalized group of women during the understudied 1930s deacade, within the Japanese American community of a developing city in the Northwest. While my portrait of the Nisei women of the Portland JACL is not yet finished, it begins the story and leaves open the possibility for further research on more chapters of the JACL in the Pacific Northwest. In regards to regionalism, Portland is unique from Seattle and urban Californian cities, yet also from rural towns. Nevertheless, the minutes show that the Japanese American experience during the prewar period also had similarities across regions. What I have presented here is one narrative of the many voices of Nisei women, which specifically uncovers the women of the Portland JACL during 1931-1939, but also lays a foundation for future research. The responsibility that these women had was placed on them by societal norms about femininity and Nisei men’s willingness to allow Nisei women to hold authority over social realms of the JACL for community-building purposes. From 1931-1935, Nisei women headed committees, programmed entire events, and hosted teas as well as oratorical contests. As the context of “Americanism” and duty came more to the forefront of social life after the SinoJapanese War began in 1937, however, the role of women in the club decreased. Participation in political action marginalized some women from society, pressuring them to withdraw from their work with the JACL. As political issues took on increased importance for the JACL members, the social aspects of the group were cast aside as Nisei men—whose participation in political


activity was accepted by dominant society—pushed for more activism, thus excluding women from the organization because of the social restraints placed on them as females. This outcome may not have been the intention of Nisei men, but as the formality and political activism increased in the group, Nisei women’s participation decreased. With women nudged out of the way, JACL activism in the post-war era lacked the feminine participation that it once held so that today’s perception of the JACL disregards those women who helped build the first ranks of the JACL organization. Why is our public memory lacking this feminine perspective in regard to the formation of the JACL? While researching for this project, I came upon people who simply did not believe there actually was historical significance to Nisei women in the JACL during the 1930s. The director of the Japanese American National Library consulted researchers and found that “preWorld War II JACL leadership was mostly Nisei men,” although he didn’t say that all leaders were men.37 Similarly, a former member of the Portland JACL, said that he didn’t “recall any women who were involved” in the prewar years or who were officers, however “there were women members.”38 From the Portland JACL minutes, it is clear that women played active roles in the early 1930s, even holding office as board member secretaries and second vice presidents. What is notable is the remembered absence of women in the Portland JACL, although the historical records show otherwise. This discrepancy between what and who gets remembered demonstrates the social process of constructing a history that becomes the public’s memory. Another contributing factor for the decreased presence of Nisei women in the prewar Portland JACL was the issues raised at the intersection of race and gender. Pressures to conform to the domestic image of a woman created a schism between their female identity and political work concerning the Japanese American people. Furthermore, marriage was expected of Nisei


girls since, “For a Japanese American woman, adult status derived in large part from her role as wife and mother.”39 This push for marriage constrained Nisei women’s abilities to be politically active, distancing them from the JACL organization, and forcing them to find new spaces where their multiple identities could coexist. Women’s clubs that prioritized the female part of their identities were popular, and as older Nisei women left to start families, younger Nisei may have drifted into the YWCA or Japanese Girl Reserves, which “recorded a noticeable increase in participation among Nisei high school girls” in 1938, the same time that women were slowly leaving the JACL.40 To reconcile the differing conclusions about Nisei women’s participation in the Northwest JACL chapters from 1931-1939, a different public memory must be remembered. Collectively, the Japanese American community’s history is not remembered before WWII, yet I’ve shown here that there was a largely active youth community in the 1930s. Through this historical glimpse at the developing city of Portland and some of its rural surroundings, we can no longer limit our scope of JACL history to urban areas. Finally, the importance of Nisei women in the history of the JACL cannot be viewed through a vision of leadership alone. Although public memory believes Nisei women had no part in leading the JACL, a different type of leadership emerges when understanding the weight of community within the organization. It is also vital to understand the great influence dominant, American norms had in marginalizing Nisei women from society while repressing their ethnic identity. These multiple identities, viewed together, construct a new public memory that alters the existing narrative of Japanese American history, and presents a look into what many Nisei grandmas may have been a part of in the 1930s JACL.





Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), “Souvenir Program/ Fourth Biennial Northwest District Convention.” Diane S. Hope, “Memorializing Affluence in the Postwar Family: Kodak’s Colorama in Grand Central Terminal (1950-

(Yakima, Washington) Monday, September 6, 1937.

1990),” Visual Communication: Perception, rhetoric, and Technology (Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press/Rochester Institute of Technology Cary Graphic Arts Press, 91-110. Hope discusses how history in the public’s mind can be constructed and skewed with certain representations in text and media, specifically in photography. She claims that photo representation “is mainly a social rite, a defense against anxiety, and a tool of power” (109).

Paul R. Spickard and Blackie Najima, “Not Just the Quiet People: The Nisei Underclass.” Pacific Historical Review 68.1

(Feb., 1999), 78-94. The idea of the “quiet Americans” and “model minority” were very prevalent during the prewar period (80).

Eiichiro Azuma, “The Politics of Transnational History Making: Japanese Immigrants on the Western ‘Frontier,’ 1927-

1941,” The Journal of American History, 89.4 (Mar., 2003), 1401-1430. This idea of history making was part of Azuma’s main argument. His article shows the progression and fluidity of discourse, and how it shapes—and is shaped by—society, which leaves much room for omitted information.
5 6 7

Valerie Matsumoto, “Japanese American Women during World War II,” A Journal of Women Studies, 8.1 (1984), 7. Ibid, 7. Valerie Matsumoto, “Farming the Home Place: A Japanese American Community in California, 1919-1982,” 1993 (Ithaca Valerie Matsumoto, “Redefining Expectations: Nisei Women in the 1930s,” California History, 73 (spring 1994), 46-47. University of Washington Libraries, “Historical Note: Guide to the Japanese American Citizens League, Seattle Branch

and London: Cornell University Press), 63.
8 9

Records, 1921-2000.” < #a-overview> (November 6, 2010).
10 11

Eiichiro Azuma, “The Politics of Transnational History Making,” 1636. Nikkei Legacy Center, “Mid-Columbia JACL” (Portland: Privately printed, n.d.), 2. Records of officers for the Mid-

Columbia JACL chapter were listed in this booklet, showing my grandmother’s participation as one of the members in the original group. The chapter formed in 1931, when my grandma—who never attended college—was about twelve years old. Family friends, who were roughly the same age, were listed as original members as well.

Susan Hasegawa, “Americanism and Citizenship: Japanese American Youth Culture of the 1930’s,” The Journal of San

Diego History, 54.1 (winter 2008), 16-25. “[The Nisei] followed American fashion fads and played American sports, such as baseball. Many participated in the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts…” (19).

Valerie Matsumoto, “Desperately Seeking ‘Deirdre’: Gender Roles, Multicultural Relations, and Nisei Women Writers of

the 1930s” Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies, 12.1 (1991), 19-32 and “Japanese American Women during World War II.”

Mary K. Gayne, “Japanese Americans at the Portland YWCA,” Journal of Women’s History, 15.3 (Autumn 2003), 197-

203. Gayne also states how the rise of women’s clubs in general occurred in prewar Portland, some, like the JACL, “respond[ing] to racial discrimination in Oregon (like the Alien Land Laws)” (197).

Natsuhara Family Collection, “JACL Convention,” Sept. 7, 1931, Densho Digital Archive, 2008.

<> (Oct. 5, 2010). This photo depicts the JACL

convention in Seattle, Washington, at the Jackson Building. Nearly a third of the participants at the convention shown in the photo are women. Such conventions as this were open arenas for female board members of JACL chapters throughout the West Coast. This photo specifically illustrates the strong presence of women in active positions in the early years of the JACL.

Portland JACL, “Meeting Minutes 1931-1939,” Oct. 9, 1931, Portland JACL archives, Nikkei Legacy Center, Portland,

OR. These social round table discussions were workshop activities at JACL conventions in which members could bring up relevant topics for debate. Records that I researched showed that women often were involved in these discussions. The particular topics Miss Okada talked about were on the Cable Act and whether Nisei should stay on their family farms.

Tanagi Family Collection, “Japanese American Citizens League Celebration,” Sept. 7, 1936, Densho Digital Archive,

2008. <> (Oct. 5, 2010); Richards Studio Collection, “JACL Founding members,” Nov., 1937, Tacoma Public Library Image Archives. < un=12&pg=1&krequest=subjects+contains+Japanese+Americans+Fife+19301940&stemming=&phonic=&fuzzy=&maxfiles=> (Oct. 6, 2010). What appears to be a dance social, the celebration was held at the Olympic Hotel in Seattle, WA. There appears to be JACLers from up and down the West Coast, with about half of the guests being women (JACL Celebration); This photo shows a group of five women and eleven men who were some of the original, founding members of the JACL, showing that women held a presence in the organization even in the formation stages (JACL Founding members).
18 19 20

Nikkei Legacy Center, “Mid-Columbia JACL,” 3. Ibid, 2. Portland JACL, “Meeting Minutes,” 8/28/31. Later, at the 3/12/32 meeting, it was announced that Gresham was planning Ibid, 10/9/31. Portland JACL, “Meeting Minutes,” 1/30/32, 5/18/32. Ibid, 5/29/33. Ibid, 9/3/33, 2/21/36. These teas were later called “social meetings,” which had high attendance. Ibid, 5/12/34. Some activities included “Skating party,” “Dance,” and “Carnival.” Ibid, 12/19/34. Nikkei Legacy Center, “Mid-Columbia JACL,” 3. I found that this event became a tradition and continued after the war Richards Studio Collection, “Puyallup Valley Japanese American Citizens League Dance Group” and “Japan Night

to organize a Citizens League chapter.
21 22 23 24 25 26 27

in 1946, when the Mid-Columbia JACL came out of its four-year suspension during WWII.

Dancers,” Nov. 10, 1938, Tacoma Public Library Image Archives. < krequest=subjects+contains+Japanese%20Americans%20Fife%201930-1940> (Oct. 6, 2010). The archive stated that there were over 1,000 in attendance at the Japanese bazaar, with the majority not being of Japanese heritage.

Portland JACL, “Meeting Minutes,” 11/13/31, 5/12/34, 9/25/37. The Halloween Dance idea can also be seen as part of Ibid, 4/28/35, 5/9/37. Ibid, 12/12/36, 11/20/37-12/16/39. My observation of a decrease in women members in the Portland JACL are inferred

the “Americanism” that Nisei dealt with throughout the second half of the 1930s.
30 31

from the lack of women being mentioned in the minutes over time, with there being many more women being talked of

around the period 1931-1935. Also, in late 1936, a man takes over the secretary job, writing the minutes instead of a woman. There had been a woman writing the minutes from 1931-1935, and intermittently from 1935-1939.
32 33

Ibid, 9/28/35. Ibid, 11/8/39, 12/7/39. This second date was the last meeting of 1939 for the cabinet. Throughout the records it is unclear Ibid, 9/25/37, 11/20/37, 1/29/38, 7/8/38. Lon Kurashige, “Japanese American Identity and Festival before World War II,” The Journal of American History, 86.4 Yuji Ichioka, “A Study in Dualism: James Yoshinori Sakamoto and the Japanese American Courier, 1928-1942,” Before

as to when the JACL formed its cabinet and began having formal meetings for just the cabinet members.
34 35

(Mar., 2000), 1651.

Internment: Essays in Prewar Japanese American History, 92-124 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2006); Portland JACL, “Meeting Minutes,” 2/25/38, 5/13/38. “To solve the plight of the Nisei, Sakamoto placed the burden of responsibility onto the shoulders of the Nisei themselves” (118); In May, a speaker of the International Cultural Relations Society of Tokyo spoke to the Nisei on benefitting from being happier living in America. She argued that to cement friendship between American and Japan, Nisei needed to live in America and be good American citizens (JACL minutes).
37 38

Karl Matsushita, “Resources for a school project,” Oct. 11, 2010, <> (Oct. 10, 2010). Email. George Azumano, “JACL Research,” Sept. 26, 2010, <> (Sept. 15, 2010). Email. Interestingly

enough, in my research of the JACL minutes, I had found an entry that mentioned George Azumano, but not until 12/12/36 and early 1937. Since this period was when women started decreasing their active participation, this perhaps could be a reason why Mr. Azumano stated there weren’t any women officers. There were, however, second Vice Presidents in the first half of the 1930s who were women.

Valerie Matsumoto, “Redefining Expectations: Nisei Women in the 1930s,” 375-388, Western Women’s Lives: Mary K. Gayne, “Japanese Americans at the Portland YWCA,” 197. The Japanese Girl Reserves was one of the four

Continuity and Change in the Twentieth Century, (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2003), 378.

“exclusively Japanese American groups” within the YWCA umbrella organization. The YWCA encompassed various clubs of different races, ages, and interests (197).

Works Cited Azuma, Eiichiro. “The Politics of Transnational History Making: Japanese Immigrants on the Western “Frontier,” 1927-2-1941.” The Journal of American History 89.4 (2003): 14011430. Print. Gayne, Mary K. “Japanese Americans at the Portland YWCA.” Journal of Women’s History 15.3 (2003): 197-203. Print. Hasegawa, Susan. “Americanism and Citizenship: Japanese American Youth Culture of the

1930s.” The Journal of San Diego History 54.1 (Winter, 2008): 16-25. Online PDF. <> Access 3 Oct. 2010. Ichioka, Yuji, Gordon H. Chang, Eiichiro Azuma. “A Study in Dualism: James Yoshinori Sakamoto and the Japanese American Courier, 1928-1942.” Before Internment: Essays in Prewar Japanese American History. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2006: 92-124. Kurashige, Lon. “The Problem with Biculturalsim: Japanese American Identity and Festival Before World War II.” The Journal of American History 86.4 (Mar., 2000): 1632-1654. Print. Matsumoto, Valerie. “Desperately Seeking “Deirdre”: Gender Roles, Multicultural Relations, and Nisei Women Writers of the 1930’s.” Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies 12.1 (1991): 19-32. Print. Matsumoto, Valerie. Farming the Home Place: A Japanese American Community in California, 1919-1982. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993. Matsumoto, Valerie. “Redefining Expectations: Nisei Women in the 1930s.” California History 73 (spring 1994): 44-53. Print. Matsumoto, Valerie and Blake Allmendinger. “Japanese American Women and the Creation of Urban Nisei Culture in the 1930s.” Over the Edge: Remapping the American West and Redefining Expectations. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1999: 291-306. Natsuhara Family Collection, “JACL Convention,” Densho Digital Archive, 2008. <> (Oct. 5, 2010). Richards Studio Collection, “Image Archives: Japanese Americans Fife 1930-1940,” Tacoma Public Library, < krequest=subjects+contains+Japanese%20Americans%20Fife%201930-1940> (Oct. 6, 2010). Spickard, Paul R. “The Nisei Assume Power: The Japanese Citizens League, 1941-1942.”

Pacific Historical Review 52.2 (May, 1983): 147-174. Print. Tanagi Family Collection, “Japanese American Citizens League Celebration,” Densho Digital Archive, 2008. <> (Oct. 5, 2010).

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful

Master Your Semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Special offer for students: Only $4.99/month.

Master Your Semester with a Special Offer from Scribd & The New York Times

Cancel anytime.