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Michiko Frances Chikahisa collection

Identifier: 2012.008


  • 1987
  • 2005
  • 2012

Biographical / Historical

Michiko Frances Chikahisa (née Miyake) was born in Los Angeles, California in 1929. After Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941, her father, a wholesale produce business owner, was interviewed by the FBI on several occasions but was never suspected of any wrongdoing. Nonetheless, he was forced to sell his business and evacuate to the Santa Anita Assembly Center along with his family when United States Executive Order 9066 was enacted. This order was signed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on February 19, 1942 and led to the forced evacuations of Japanese Americans and ethnic Japanese people from designated “military zones” located mostly along the West Coast.

The Miyake family was then placed into Rohwer Relocation Center in Arkansas where they remained for a three year period. One of Frances’ sisters was suffering from tuberculosis and was confined to a sanitarium for the duration of the war. In January of 1945, Mr. Miyake was released from internment and returned to California to find work. His family followed him back to Los Angeles in June of 1945. Shortly thereafter, Frances entered into the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) but found it to be overcrowded and quickly transferred to Mount St. Mary’s College, where she received a Bachelor of Arts (BA) with a focus in social welfare.

In 1956, Frances received a Master of Social Work (MSW) from the University of Southern California. When licensure came into effect, Frances was grandfathered in and set up a private practice in California which she ran for 25 years. Due to her deep commitment to her community, she often provided pro bono therapy work and sponsored “Parents Anonymous,” a support group dedicated to the prevention of child abuse.

Frances’ husband, Paul, was also a respected social worker and community advocate. For a ten year period, Paul worked under a federal grant to identify and train members of the Asian community who had an interest in social work. Under Paul’s tutelage, over 100 individuals became social workers. Paul passed away in 1996. In 2009, Frances established the Paul Chikahisa Endowed Lecture at the University of Southern California. This annual lecture honors an Asian American who has made an outstanding contribution to the Asian community.

In 2000, Frances moved to Chicago in order to live closer to her adult children and grandchildren. She obtained her license to practice social work in Illinois and began working at the Japanese American Service Committee (JASC) in 2002.

Source: Chikahisa, Frances


3 folders

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Stacks 02 Column 08 Shelf D (housed with Box 2, Tanakatsubo material)

Michiko Frances Chikahisa collection
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Repository Details

Part of the JASC Legacy Center Repository

4427 N Clark St.
Chicago IL 60640 United States
1 (773) 275-0097