Isaku Kida had come to the US to study theology in 1930, but grew increasingly interested in Communism during the Great Depression. Isaku’s politics drew the attention of the FBI after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He was arrested and interned on Ellis Island. Isaku was taken out of incarceration when the Office of Strategic Services recruited Isaku for his language skills.
Emi Kida (1908-2001) emigrated to New York City from Japan in 1958 to join her husband, Isaku Kida. As the end of World War II neared, Isaku became the business manager and later president of New York’s premier Japanese American newspaper, the Hokubei Shimpo (renamed The New York Nichibei in 1945). Isaku served as the Japanese language editor and Emi served as a reporter, in addition to setting the Japanese hot-type by hand. The paper documented the life of New York’s postwar Japanese American community and served as an important early outlet for many Asian American Movement writers in the 1960’s and 1970’s. In addition to the records of the Hokubei Shimpo-The New York Nichibei and the largest publicly accessible collection of issues, the I. Kida Papers also contain Emi’s personal materials. Born in Gifu prefecture in 1919, Emi attended Doshisha Women’s Senmon School where she studied the traditional women’s arts that included embroidery, ikebana (flower arranging) and cooking. Emi’s writings, photographs, clippings, daybooks, and personal memorabilia span her 43 years in the U.S. They offer a rare glimpse into the daily life of a Japanese woman who became intimately involved with the goings on of New York City.
To learn more about the contents of the Isaku Kida and Emi Kida Papers, located at the NYU Tamiment Library & Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, view the collection’s finding aid.