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Lillian Kimura Papers

Identifier: 2004.010

Scope and Contents

In this oral history interview conducted on November 15, 2004, Lillian Chieko Kimura, the first female president of the JASC, talks about her childhood in a “restricted” California town; life in Manzanar Relocation Center (California) from 1942 to 1945; and her growing involvement in the Chicago Resettlers Committee (CRC)/JASC, the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), and the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) after she and her family moved to Chicago in August 1945. She touches on the early programs offered by the Chicago Resettlers Committee, and reminisces about Abe Hagiwara, one of the leaders in the Japanese American community in Chicago during the 1940s and 1950s, and the person who encouraged Ms. Kimura to become involved in the JACL. She also recalls the role she played, starting in the 1970s, in the YWCA’s national movement to eliminate racism in the United States.


  • 2004-2005

Biographical / Historical

Lillian Chieko Kimura was born on April 7, 1929 in Glendale, California. Lillian and her family lived and worked in Glendale until the attack on Pearl Harbor drew the United States into World War II. Approximately one month after the tragic events on December 7, 1941, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt authorized United States Executive Order 9066. This order led to the forced removal of individuals of Japanese descent from designated “military zones” located mostly along the West Coast. In April of 1942, the Kimuras were evacuated to Manzanar Relocation Center in California where most of the family remained for the duration of the war.
At the conclusion of World War II, the Kimura family moved to Chicago, a resettlement hub for Japanese Americans rebuilding their lives after their incarceration. Lillian’s father worked in a business that manufactured electrocardiographs and her mother worked at a variety of jobs. Lillian completed her education at Hyde Park High School and became an involved member of the Chicago Resettlers Committee – now named the Japanese American Service Committee (JASC).
In 1954, Lillian earned a graduate degree in social work. She obtained a position at Olivet Community Care and rose through the ranks during her 16 years of service. In 1971, she went to work for YWCA for a 23 year period during which she moved to St. Louis and then to New York. She presently lives in New Jersey. During her professional career, Lillian stayed very involved in the Japanese American community by serving as the president of the Japanese American Service Committee and as the governor of the Midwest District Council of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL).

Source: Kimura, Lillian Chieko


2 folders

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Stacks 02 Column 06 Shelf 6C

Lillian Kimura Papers
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Repository Details

Part of the JASC Legacy Center Repository

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