Asian-American Women: Pacific-Island Women

Asian-American Women and the Portland YWCA

Document 1

Document 2A

Document 2B

Veleda Club

Frances Maeda

Pacific Island Women

Asian-American Women: Pacific-Island Women

Research by Patricia A. Schechter


World Fellowship, c. 1980
White Hula Dancers

       The photographic history of the YWCA of Portland presents many images of women of Hawaiian, Tahitian, and Philippine origins. Yet these images are difficult to analyze because of a lack of supporting materials for details and context. As in the case of Japanese and Chinese women, Pacific Island women in YWCA records figure primarily as the objects of missionary work, especially before World War II. The voices of Pacific Island women as volunteers, staff, or participants are virtually absent from the extant archival record.

       After World War II, women of Pacific Island ancestry may have found outlets for sociability and community at the Portland YWCA through the organization's "World Fellowship" which extended missionary-like assistance to foreign populations rebuilding after the conflict. It is clear that Portlanders had an interest in Pacific Island food, music, and dance, with luau and hula consistently appearing as themes for youth activities, adult classes, and fund-raising efforts. Media images tended to emphasize the exotic and subordinate status of Pacific Island women in U.S. culture. Filipino youth found solidarity and sociability through YWCA programs in the 1970s, especially at St. John's.

Fundraising for Westwind Diversity Fair at St. Johns, 1980s


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