Domestic service

Before World War II, many newly arrived young Issei (Japanese immigrant) men and, later, Issei women worked as domestics. Wages were low -- about $1.50 per week in 1900 -- but room and board were provided, and living with an American family provided a means of quickly learning the English language and American customs. After the war, for want of better jobs, dispossessed older Issei and college-age Nisei (their American-born children) again took employment as domestics for well-to-do families.

Domestic service (13)

13 items
Takashi Matsui Interview Segment 12 (ddr-densho-1000-45-12)
vh Takashi Matsui Interview Segment 12 (ddr-densho-1000-45-12)
Attending the University of Washington while working as a houseboy
Yasu Koyamatsu Momii Interview Segment 20 (ddr-densho-1000-374-20)
vh Yasu Koyamatsu Momii Interview Segment 20 (ddr-densho-1000-374-20)
Leaving camp to work as a domestic

This material is based upon work assisted by a grant from the Department of the Interior, National Park Service. Any opinions, finding, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of the Interior.

Issei woman (ddr-densho-113-52)
img Issei woman (ddr-densho-113-52)
Yuki Takashina worked as a babysitter for the Uyeda family. In this photo she is standing in front of her home in Seattle.
Nisei woman (ddr-densho-325-367)
img Nisei woman (ddr-densho-325-367)
Written on front of photograph "To Hisa: Love, Clara" and on the back of the photograph "This is the front of the house I worked in. Taken Jan. 8, 1948 Hood River, Oregon"
Caucasian woman (ddr-densho-325-331)
img Caucasian woman (ddr-densho-325-331)
Mrs. Lumsden, one of Hisa's employers, poses in the snow. Written on back of photograph "Dec '47 Wrightwood Mrs. Lumsden"
Joe Yasutake Interview Segment 5 (ddr-densho-1000-136-5)
vh Joe Yasutake Interview Segment 5 (ddr-densho-1000-136-5)
Parents' experiences as domestic help; "I was ashamed of the fact that my parents were servants."

Joseph Yasutake was interviewed together with his sister Mitsuye (Yasutake) Yamada and surviving brother, William Toshio Yasutake, in group sessions on October 8-9, 2002. He was also interviewed individually on October 9, 2002.

Before being contacted by Densho, the Yasutake ...

Mary T. Yoshida Interview Segment 9 (ddr-densho-1014-9-9)
vh Mary T. Yoshida Interview Segment 9 (ddr-densho-1014-9-9)
Working for a family in Minnesota, social interactions with other maids
Kazue Yamamoto Interview Segment 13 (ddr-densho-1000-197-13)
vh Kazue Yamamoto Interview Segment 13 (ddr-densho-1000-197-13)
Working for a family doing housework; learning rules of etiquette

This interview was conducted as part of a project to capture stories of the Japanese American community of Spokane, Washington. Densho worked in collaboration with the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture.