Asian-American Women and the Portland YWCA

Document 1

Document 2A

Document 2B

Veleda Club

Frances Maeda

Pacific Island Women

Asian-American Women: The Veleda Club

Research by Mary K. Gayne and Patricia A. Schechter

Japanese Dancer

 
Japanese Food booth at YWCA
"Little World's Fair," 1954

       After World War II, a number of Japanese women connected powerfully with the Portland YWCA. Mrs. Naito, Ruby Shiomi, and Grace Akiyama were especially active board members in the 1950s and 1960s. These women offered service to the organization in many ways. The record documents their work to expand the cultural understanding of the membership of the YWCA through symposia on world religions, "Japan Day" events, the sharing of personal photographs and recipes, and through a sister city relationship with a YWCA in Sapporo. Japanese-American women formed the active and vibrant Veleda Club in 1949. Members chose to name the club Veleda because of its meaning in Latin: "wise women." The club's mission was "education, recreation and culture for the benefit of married women." Sensitive to "relations between Japan and America tradewise," the Veledas vowed to provide service to both " the Caucasian community and the Japanese community."[1]

 

       The Veleda Club offered a variety of services to the Japanese-American community in Portland. One such program provided scholarships to local Japanese-American students. The club also offered a variety of classes and programs
Veleda Club Dinner, c. 1960
Veleda Club Dinner, 1961
for members on a wide range of topics, from gardening to travel. The local media featured regular coverage of their events and meetings. "As a result of [the club's] dramatization of the importance of Japanese culture to our American way of life," explained one Veleda report, "members of the club have been called upon incessantly to do programs on all phases of Japanese life and culture from local clubs to the drama department of the University of Oregon."[2] Veleda members felt very proud of their accomplishments and success.

 

1. Board of Directors Minutes, Portland YWCA, April 1962 and November 1962; "Club Award Announced," Oregon Journal, 20 June 1958, clippings file, Portland YWCA Archives, Portland, Oregon.
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2. "Veleda Club," one-page typescript document, 22 May 1958; "Veleda Club, 1961," mimeographed pamphlet; "The Constitution," 1960-61. All in Veleda Club folder, Portland YWCA Archives, Portland, Oregon.
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