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History of the Japanese American Women Alumnae of UC Berkeley JAWAUCB

The Clubhouse


In the Fall of 1937, seven coeds and their housemothers moved into the newly opened Japanese Women’s Student Clubhouse.   The 2-story white frame house at 2509 Hearst Street provided housing in Berkeley for Japanese American women students who faced racial barriers to reasonably priced quarters near the campus.  The Clubhouse was ideally located just across the street from the campus with a view of the Architecture building and around the corner from the Japanese American Men’s Dormitory.

The house was purchased for $7000 after more than ten years of fundraising.   Teas and shows (in Oakland and San Francisco) were put on by the students, alumnae and Japanese Mothers Group.  The first seven residents  were students Mabel Ando, Kiyo Kitano, Miye Kojaku, May Morioka, Sadae Nomura, Takako Tsuchiya and Michi Yamazaki and  housemothers Ayame Ichiyasu and Mae Iwai.  The Directors of the non-profit Japanese Women’s Student Club were Tomi Domoto, Shizuko Hikoyeda, Anne Saito (Howden), Barbara Takahashi, Mary C. Takahashi, Dr. Yoshiye Togasaki and Grace Uyeyama.

At full capacity, twelve to fourteen women slept in the five bedrooms and the large sun porch.  Professor Chiura Obata’s paintings decorated the walls of the living room.

In 1939 Mrs. Kiku Taniguchi became the housemother.  During the WW II internment of Japanese Americans, the house was rented to the Merrill family for $80.00 a month.  In 1946 Mr. and Mrs. Harry (Lillian) Matsumoto  (who had been in charge of the orphanage in Manzanar) rented the property for a year and eleven students resided there.  On April 4, 1947, the alumnae voted to reopen the house as a dormitory and Mrs. Taniguchi returned as housemother.

In 1958, eight upper division and graduate students occupied the clubhouse.  In 1964, the City of Berkeley condemned the building.  By then, Japanese American Students were able to live in racially integrated coops and dormitories.  A realty firm offered $25,000 for the property, but the board delayed their reply while they made plans for the proceeds.  After two years of study and negotiations, the board and the UC Regents created a scholarship fund.  Only then, was the clubhouse sold for $72,000 and on January 10, 1967, the proceeds from the sale were given to the UC Regents as an endowment for the Japanese Women Alumnae Scholarship fund.  Founding members of the 1966 Scholarship Committee were Dr. Yoshiye Togasaki, Chair, Shizu Hikoyeda, Lillian Matsumoto, Fumie Nakamura, Michi Onuma, Barbara Takahashi and Grace Uyeyama. 



The Scholarship Committee of the Japanese Alumnae of UCB was established as an oversight committee for the distribution of scholarships and to promote bequests, donations and gifts.  In 1992, the Japanese Women Alumnae of UC Berkeley became a chartered club of the California Alumni Association. Later, the name of the club was changed to Japanese American Women Alumnae of UC Berkeley.

Each year,scholarships are awarded to 4 or 5 students through the Financial Aid office at UCB which handles the applications, interviews and selection according to the following preferences:

  1. First preference shall be given to women of Japanese ancestry.

    a.  American citizen of Japanese ancestry

    b.  Other women of Japanese ancestry

  2. Second preference shall be given to women of Asian ancestry.

  3. Third preference shall be given to all other women.


Membership and Activities

The members of the club meet once a year at a luncheon.  At that time, the scholarship recipients, the Outstanding Alumna of the Year, a keynote speaker and a CAA representative are guests and the board is elected.  The board meets as needed 4-5 times a year,.

As a means of preserving the history of Japanese American students at UCB, the club is conducting oral history interviews with women who were UCB students before WW II.

Membership in the club is open to all alumni and friends of UCB.  An alumnus is defined as a person who has completed 12 units of study at UCB.  Membership shall not be denied on the basis of race, ethnic origin, age, sex, marital status or sexual preference.  The annual period is from July 1st to June 30th.


September 8, 2009