Japanese American Association of New York Collection

Date Range: 18932009
Survey Conducted: Fri, 2009-03-13
Creator: Japanese American Association of New York

History: The Japanese American Association of New York, Inc (JAA) is a nonprofit organization serving the Japanese and Japanese American community through a variety of activities, including social services, education, scholarships and cultural events. JAA was founded in 1907 as the Japanese Mutual Aid Society (Nihonjin Kyosaikai) by Dr. Toyohiko Takami. The organization’s first major project was to purchase land in Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Queens in 1912 to provide a burial plot for Japanese Americans. In 1914, the organization became the Japanese Association of New York (New York Nihonjinkai), under which name it continued until World War II. The organization was dissolved during World War II but reconstituted shortly thereafter, serving largely as a relief organization. Through the American Friends Service Committee’s Licensed Agency for Relief in Asia (LARA), it sent food and clothing to Japan. As conditions in Japan improved, the organization turned its attention towards local needs, merging with the Japanese American Welfare Society in 1952 to form the Japanese American Association of New York.

Currently, JAA provides a variety of social services, including free consultations on legal and health-related issues, elderly services such as visits to individual homes and congregate living facilities, twice monthly Keirokai luncheons, and annual memorial services at Mount Olivet Cemetery and Cypress Hills Cemetery. At the annual scholarship dinner, the winners of a rigorous selection process are announced for high school student scholarships for college and graduate students for post grad work. A concert is held to enable the young musician winners of the music awards to play before the JAA. Through Apple Kids, JAA organizes workshops and events for families with young children, many of whom are new arrivals to New York City. Classes are offered in Japanese art and culture in the JAA Hall, their community center. A language seminar is held for teachers of Japanese. There is a lending library with publications in Japanese and English, and an archive with historical books, photographs and materials pertaining to Japanese in New York since 1900. JAA runs an annual charity golf tournament and members belong to a baseball league that competes for the Consul General’s Cup. Holiday dinners and bazaars/flea markets help to raise general support funds for Sakura Matsuri (cherry blossom festivals) at Flushing Meadows Corona Park and the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens.

Sources: “100 Years of Community Service: A Historical Overview of the Japanese American Association of New York, Inc.” The Japanese American Association of New York, Inc.  Accessed February 5, 2015. https://jaany.org/w/about/history/.

“Social Issues” The Japanese American Association of New York, Inc. Accessed February 5, 2015. http://legacy.jaany.org/social_issues.html.

Summary: The Japanese American Association’s collection is composed of a reference library, which contains historical materials documenting the history of JAA as well as the Japanese American community in New York City; and the records of the Japanese American Association, which include newsletters, administrative files and publicity materials. Many JAA members have donated material to the reference library over time, although there is little indication when and from whom these donations occurred.

Reference Library: The reference library contains approximately seven linear feet of books in Japanese and English, relating to Japanese and Japanese American history and culture, including Japanese immigration to Brazil, woodcutting and theater. Directories published by the New York Nichibei and Hokubei Shimpo, the Consulate General of Japan and the Japanese American News Corporation, are also included. These contain valuable information relating to the Japanese American community in New York City dating back to the 1930s. The Shining Stars, the autobiography of JAA founder Dr. Toyohiko Campbell Takami, is also included.

Also included in this portion of the collection are bound copies of the Hokubei Shimpo dating from 1945, as well as catalogs and programs from events relating to New York City Japanese American community organizations including the Japanese American Citizens’ League, the Japanese American United Church, and the Japanese School of New York dating back to 1893. A small collection of magazines, including Bridge, East/Wind and Japan/New York is also present.

Approximately 3 linear feet of subject files are also included, on topics ranging from Sakura Matsuri (Cherry Blossom festivals) to art exhibits, immigration and naturalization, cemetery plots and JAA relief funds for September 11, 2001, Hurricane Katrina (2005) and the Hanshin Earthquake (1995).

Records: The Japanese American Association Records contains five linear feet of the organization’s newsletter JAA News, in a continuous run from 1954 to the present day. Also included is three linear feet of material relating to JAA’s scholarship programs, including applications and programs, dating from 1989. Administrative files, such as bills, checks, bank statements, and reservation notebooks documenting events at the JAA offices are also included. Approximately five linear feet of photographs (prints, negatives and digital photographs on compact discs) documenting JAA events and personalities are also included. A number of boxes, totaling six linear feet and containing materials donated by JAA members is also part of the collection. These materials include books, clippings, photographs, programs and directories. Of particular significance are three boxes of slides documenting the travels of Isaku and Emi Kida, publishers of the New York Nichibei, as early as the 1960s.

Total Size: 38 linear feet, 38 boxes
APA-related Size: 38 linear feet, 38 boxes
Languages of materials: English and Japanese
Arrangement: other
Location: Japanese American Association of New York offices
Bibliographic Control: none
Conditions Governing Access: Available by appointment only. Researchers wishing to view materials must contact Mrs. Noda.
Preservation Note: Environmental conditions, particularly temperature, are unstable at this site and some materials may be at risk.

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