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Azalia Emma Peet papers

Identifier: SSC-MS-00120

Scope and Contents

The Azalia Peet Papers consist of two linear feet of photographs, correspondence, printed material, memorabilia, diaries, articles, and speeches. They provide a detailed and personal view of missionary life in Japan before and after World War II and Japanese-Americans in internment camps in the United States during the war.

Dates of Materials

  • Creation: 1902 - 1974


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

The Sophia Smith Collection owns copyright to material authored by Azalia Peet and permission is required beyond "fair use". All literary rights to material authored by others are retained by the individuals and their heirs.

Biographical / Historical

Azalia Emma Peet was born in Rochester, New York, September 3, 1887, daughter of Marion K. Green and James C. Peet. She graduated from Smith College in 1910 and returned home to New York. After much spiritual and personal self-examination and following her mother's death in 1913 and her father's remarriage in 1916, Peet decided to become a Christian missionary.

She left in September 1916 for Tokyo, Japan, under the auspices of the United Methodist Church. Between September 1917 and May 1921 she did evangelistic work with high school students, supervised kindergarten work, and organized clubs for nurses and working women. In June 1921 she returned to the United States on her first furlough, speaking in churches and doing graduate work at Boston University. She received a master's degree in 1923 and returned to Japan the same year. Peet worked with women and girls in Fukuoka, living in a hostel for working women and teaching women at the government high school and college. In 1927 she moved to Hakodate, supervising two kindergartens. She became ill in January 1928 and was sent back to the United States on her second furlough which was spent in Portland, Oregon and Rochester, New York. Returning to Japan in September 1929, she supervised kindergartens and did missionary work with students until June 1935. During her third furlough (June 1935 to August 1936), Peet did graduate work at Cornell University and at Merrill Palmer Training School in Detroit. She returned to Japan in September 1936 and was evacuated in March 1941. During that period Peet did social welfare, childcare, and kindergarten work in Kushikino and taught high school in Nagasaki.

By 1942, Peet was living in Gresham, Oregon, then a farming community, where there was a large population of Japanese immigrants--many of which were from Fukuoka, Japan--and Japanese Americans. On February 26, 1942, Peet testified in front of the House Select Committee Investigating National Defense Migration (also known as the Tolan Committee), which was coducting hearings about the need to evacuate Japanese immigrants and Japanese Americans from the West Coast. Peet questioned the need to evacuate these people and was a strong opponent of evacuation. Peet followed and lived with the Japanese immigrants and Japanese Americans in internment camps in Nyssa, Oregon and Minidoka, Idaho, where she continued working with those from Gresham, Oregon and Yakima, Washington, specifically helping the young people continue their college education or to get into college. Peet was among the first women to be asked to return to Japan after the war. Between December 1946 and December 1953 she did rural reconstruction work. Peet was awarded the "Fifth Order of the Sacred Treasure" by the Japanese government in 1953.

Returning to the United States in January 1954, she cared for her sister-in-law in Webster, New York, and occupied herself doing fulltime parish visiting and religious education for the Monroe Ave. United Methodist Church in Rochester, New York. Peet entered Brooks-Howell Home in Asheville, North Carolina, in September 1961. She died September 21, 1973.


3.397 linear feet (8 containers)


Missionary and teacher. The Azalia Peet papers consist of photographs, correspondence, memorabilia, and speeches. Of particular interest in the collection diaries and letters written by Peet from Japan, and from the Japanese American internment camps in the United States during World War II. Her early diaries reflect her home life and her personal struggle to come to terms with her vocation.


This collection is organized into three series:

  1. I. Biographical Material
  2. II. Correspondence
  3. III. Writings and Speeches


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

Azalia Emma Peet donated her papers in May 1970. Additional materials were donated by Mary-Alice Peet Smith in 2009.

Additional Formats

Diaries (1902-1928) are also available on microfilm, as part of the"History of Women"series, in Sophia Smith Collection and through interlibrary loan.

Processing Information

Reprocessed by Susan Boone, 2001.

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 2009-S-0081, Box 1 renumbered as Box 6



Azalia Emma Peet papers
Finding Aid
Susan Boone
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Revision Statements

  • 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (
  • 2005-09-23: mnsss47 converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02-5c.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
  • 2017-07-26T17:48:19-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.

Repository Details

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

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063