Asian-American Women and the Portland YWCA

Document 1

Document 2A

Document 2B

Veleda Club

Frances Maeda

Pacific Island Women

Asian-American Women: Frances Maeda

Research by Mary Gayne and Minhai Dao

Frances Maeda
       Frances Maeda was born in Portland, Oregon, in 1912, the oldest of four children of Japanese immigrant parents. Her family fostered her strong faith and commitment to education. She graduated from Jefferson High School, attended Willamette University and, in 1936, graduated from the University of Denver. Maeda has had a long and distinguished career in professional Christian service with the World Council of Churches in New York City, where she worked from 1947 to 1977.[1]

       After college, Maeda became youth director at the Japanese Methodist Church
Japanese American Citizens'
League Meeting, Portland, 1940.
Frances Maeda is seated on right.[3]
in Portland and served on the Oregon Christian Youth Council. In 1938, she was turned down for employment by the National Board of the YWCA due to hiring restrictions against Asian-American women (see document 1). In 1940, she became a Secretary in the Girl Reserve Department of the Portland YWCA, where she worked for two years. Maeda extended her service to organize local Japanese and Japanese American girls into Girl Reserve clubs. "It really meant a lot to them," Maeda recalled in an interview. "They treated the basketball team and went on to win. It was amazing."[2]

       The Maeda family endured incarceration during World War II and while at Minadoka Relocation Center, Frances did organizing, advocacy, and casework for detainees. In 1942, Maeda accepted a job with the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions in Boston and from there, made her way to New York City. In the late 1970s, she returned to Portland to care for her mother, where she still resides.

1. Mary Gayne, "Interview with Frances Maeda," 1997, Portland YWCA Archives, Portland, Oregon.
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2. Minahi Dao, "Interview with Frances Maeda," 2001, Portland YWCA Archives, Portland, Oregon.
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3. Negative #ORHi 103604, Oregon Historical Society, Portland, Oregon.
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