Document 1: Letter from Lilian Espy to Frances Maeda, 4 November 1938. Frances Maeda's personal copy (originally from National YWCA).

Asian-American Women and the Portland YWCA

Document 1

Document 2A

Document 2B

Veleda Club

Frances Maeda

Pacific Island Women

Document 1: Letter from Lilian Espy to Frances Maeda, 4 November 1938. Frances Maeda's personal copy (originally from National YWCA).[1]

National Board
Young Women's Christian Associations
of the United States of America

600 Lexington Avenue, New York, N.Y.
Cable Address: Emissarius, New York
Telephone: Plaza 3-4700

November 4, 1938

Miss Frances Maeda
4054 N. Vancouver Ave.
Portland, Oregon

Dear Miss Maeda:

       Your letter of October 20, addressed to Dr. Ormsbee, has come to me for answer since I am the member of the Personnel Bureau staff who usually carries the initial correspondence with new applicants.

       When your letter arrived, I immediately asked our files to tell me how many positions there were in the YWCA which were occupied by Japanese girls. According to our records at this time, there are only five professional jobs listed. Two of these are in Los Angeles -- the executive and the Girl Reserve secretary in the Japanese Branch. Two are in San Francisco -- the executive and the house secretary in the Branch. The fifth is in the Honolulu Association where there is a Girl Reserve assistant position. All of our roll calls for this fall have not been received, and there may be one or two others when they are complete. I am giving you this information because I think it only fair to tell you how limited the opportunities for Japanese girls are.

       If I interpret the first paragraph of your letter correctly, you are asking also whether there would be opportunities for you in the YWCA outside the Japanese Branches. In my experience in the Bureau this question has not been raised before. However, tradition would be against one who sought such an opportunity. Our experience in recommending girls of European parentage, when the tradition is to think in terms of the older, American backgrounds for our leadership, leads me to believe that the Association generally is not yet ready to break with its traditional thinking.

       I am interested in the information which you have given us about yourself, and I am perfectly willing to send you the materials to register with the Personnel Bureau. Openings would be very rare, as you can see from the information I have given above. However, if you are willing to go through the detail necessary to complete your registration, I shall be glad to have materials on file for you and write you in case such a vacancy should be registered.

       I am sorry that my letter has to be a discouraging one on the whole, but I should be glad to have you register with us if you desire to.

       Since you have expressed an interest in work with business and industrial girls, as well as Girl Reserves, I am sending you job description materials for both types of work.

                                        Sincerely yours

                                       [signed]Lillian Espy, Personnel Bureau


1. For the outcome of Frances Maeda's search for employment, see her biographical sketch.
       Back to Text

| YWCA Today | Programs & Outreach | African-American Women |
| World War II | Religion, Race, & Reform | Buildings | Camping

back to top