In 1930, Isaku Kida (1905-1996) came to the US to study theology, but grew increasingly interested in Communism during the Great Depression. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Kida’s politics drew the attention of the FBI and he was arrested and interned on Ellis Island. He was taken out of incarceration when the Office of Strategic Services recruited him for his language skills. Emi Kida (1919-2001) immigrated to New York City from Japan in 1958 to join her husband, Isaku. Born in Gifu prefecture in 1919, Emi attended Doshisha Women’s Senmon School, where she studied traditional women’s arts that included embroidery, ikebana (flower arranging), and cooking. 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 (later renamed The New York Nichibei in 1945). He served as the Japanese language editor and Emi worked as a reporter, in addition to setting the Japanese hot-type by hand. The paper documented the life of New York’s post-war Japanese American community and served as an important early outlet for many Asian American Movement writers in the 1960s and 1970s.
The majority of the collection consists of copies of both The Hokubei Shimpo and The New York Nichibei. In addition to these records, the Kida Papers also contain Emi’s personal materials. Emi’s writings, photographs, clippings, daybooks, and personal memorabilia span her forty-three years in the US and 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.