This August, the Portland Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) made a significant donation to the University Library’s Special Collections. In addition to the documents that make up the JACL historical records project donated to the University Library last year, the JACL made a $5,000 donation that matched the Oregon Cultural Trust’s award supporting the Library’s JACL collection. The University Library’s Special Collections is the steward of over 23 boxes of historically important records from the Portland JACL. Combined funding from the Portland JACL and OCT will be used to identify, organize, and preserve these aging and often fragile materials and launch an online searchable finding aid that will be made available to the public, including researchers, educators, students, and community members.
The Japanese American Citizens League is the country’s oldest Asian American organization dedicated to preserving civil rights in the United States. Led by Co-Presidents Susan Leedham and Jean Yamamoto, the Portland chapter’s records cover a pivotal period in national and local history from the 1930s to the 1980s. The JACL is a membership-driven national organization, founded in 1928, whose mission is to secure and uphold the human and civil rights of Americans of Japanese ancestry and others and to promote and preserve the cultural heritage and values of Japanese Americans.
The Portland JACL collection at the University Library features unique items such as the original receipt from the Chapter’s purchase of a flag set from Meier & Frank for $1.75, dated December 8, 1941. The collection also includes scrapbooks, photographs, programs, minutes from meetings, and many more important documents dating from before WWII to the 1980s. The JACL collection is currently available to students and patrons and with the help of the Portland Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League and the Oregon Cultural Trust, efforts are now underway, insuring that these historically important documents will continue to be available in the future.
A receipt for an American flag set, purchased by the Portland JACL on December 8, 1941 from the Meier and Frank department store.
To learn more about the work of the Portland JACL and how you can support its mission, visit: www.pdxjacl.org/.