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Pan Pacific and Southeast Asia Women's Association of the U.S.A. records

Identifier: SSC-MS-00336

Scope and Contents

The PPSEAWA-USA Records consist of 5 linear feet of organizational materials, dating from 1938 to 2007. They include minutes and reports, correspondence, conference materials, newsletters, and scrapbooks.

The bulk of the records are dated from the 1950s to the 1960s. SERIES I. HISTORY AND ADMINISTRATION documents the administration of the national organization and provides some information regarding local chapters and international activities. It also contains scrapbooks (one of which is located in the OVERSIZE MATERIALS) that document international conferences and the group's history with photographs and memorabilia. SERIES II. CONFERENCES contains materials generated by PPSEAWA's international conferences. These materials cover a large span of the organization's history. SERIES III. PUBLICATIONS includes long-term runs of the international and American newsletters. The "Heritage Books" contained in this series detail the histories of PPSEAWA International and its member organizations.

Dates of Materials

  • Creation: 1928 - 2009


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use without restriction beyond the standard terms and conditions of Smith College Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

To the extent that they own copyright, PPSEAWA-USA has assigned the copyright of PPSEAWA-USA works to Smith College; however, copyright in other items in this collection may be held by their respective creators. For reproductions of materials that are governed by fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. For instances which may regard materials in the collection not created by PPSEAWA-USA, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold materials' copyrights and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from Smith College Special Collections to move forward with their use.

Biographical / Historical

The Pan-Pacific and Southeast Asia Women's Association (PPSEAWA) was founded in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1930 with the intention to "strengthen the bonds of peace among Pacific peoples by promoting a better understanding and friendship among the women of all Pacific countries." The women organizers also sought to "promote co-operation...for the study and betterment of existing conditions" throughout the Pacific Rim. The Association initially conducted its work primarily through international meetings where delegates shared information and raised awareness about international women's issues.

PPSEAWA evolved to encompass an international umbrella organization and autonomous national associations, which had local chapters. Beginning in 1930, the national chapters of PPSEAWA, which include countries of the South Pacific and Pacific Islands, Southeast and East Asia as well as the United States, convened triennially for international conferences to share information and coordinate programming. The groups also kept in contact through newsletters.

The American section of the international membership organization-the Pan-Pacific and Southeast Asia Women's Association of the U.S.A. (PPSEAWA-USA), the entity that generated the records in the Sophia Smith Collection-has had chapters in cities that ranged from New York City to Stockton, California and Valdosta, Georgia. The Toledo, Ohio and New York City chapters became the most active U.S. chapters in the 1950s and 1960s, a time in which PPSEAWA was among a group of internationalist organizations promoting stronger alliances between the U.S. and Pacific Rim countries. In the early 1950s, PPSEAWA International established consultative status at the United Nations and UNESCO as a non-governmental organization. Although PPSEAWA was not oriented toward political advocacy, this network exerted an influence on and was shaped by liberal Cold War foreign policy. Declaring its "unique function" to bring together women "not as specialists or as feminists but as people interested in exchanging ideas and practical experiences," PPSEAWA-USA sponsored programs that brought together clubwomen activists with diplomats and cultural ambassadors. Events such as lectures and fashion shows were designed to foster personal interactions as well as intercultural appreciation. PPSEAWA leaders in the New York area provided hospitality services for visitors and emigrants to the U.S., and they participated in United Nations efforts.

PPSEAWA remains active. In the United States, it has been primarily an educational organization that promotes contact among women interested in Asian and Pacific issues. Notable members of PPSEAWA-USA have included Ella Stewart, the first licensed African-American woman pharmacist in the United States, Goodwill Ambassador to the Department of State, and president of the National Association of Colored Women; and social work educator Elmina Lucke. Internationally, chapters carry out community development and women's health programs while remaining closely involved with United Nations activities.


9.522 linear feet (17 containers)


International women's organization. The records of the Pan Pacific and Southeast Asia Women's Association of the U.S.A. consist of international conference proceedings, from the 10th, 11th, and 13th-15th conferences; correspondence; minutes of the executive board and other meetings; reports; constitution and by-laws; publications and printed material; and photographs of the national PPSEA taken between 1950-1985. The records also include two scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, and records from four local chapters including New York, Chicago, Toledo (OH), and Stockton (CA).


This collection is organized into three series:



This collection has been added to over time in multiple "accessions." An accession is a group of materials received from the same source at approximately the same time.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by the Pan-Pacific and Southeast Asia Women's Association of the U.S.A., 1988-2015.

Additional Formats

This collection had been digitized and is available online (with database subscription). Also available on microfilm (Contact the SSC for more information).

Related Materials

Related materials can be found in the papers of PPSEAWA members Gladys M. Bradley, Elmina Lucke, and Josephine Schain, also housed in the Sophia Smith Collection. The Swarthmore College Peace Collection in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania holds a portion of the PPSEAWA-USA Records, documenting the years between the 1920s and 1940s.

Processing Information

Processed by Amanda Izzo, 2010.

Processing Information

Between September 2022 and February 2023, Smith College Special Collections renumbered many boxes to eliminate duplicate numbers within collections in order to improve researcher experience. The following changes were made in this collection: Accession 2015-S-0013, Boxes 1-4 renumbered as Boxes 13-16

Finding Aid to the Pan Pacific and Southeast Asia Women's Association of the U.S.A. records
Legacy Finding Aid (Updated)
Finding aid prepared by Amanda Izzo.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (
  • 2017-07-26T17:48:17-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.
  • 2020-04-15: Added accession 15S-13, updated dates

Repository Details

Part of the Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History Repository

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063