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Finding aid for the Herbert V. Nicholson Papers
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Biography / Administrative History
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Herbert V. Nicholson papers
    Dates: 1943-1992
    Bulk Dates: 1953-1954
    Collection number: 2003.1
    Collector: Nicholson, Herbert Victor, 1892-
    Collection Size: 4 folders
    Repository: Japanese American National Museum (Los Angeles, Calif.)
    Los Angeles, California 90012
    Abstract: This collection consists of letters written to the Nicholson family, largely related to the Friendship Home in Pasadena, California. Herbert Nicholson was a reverend and a missionary in Japan for much of his adult life. The collection also includes publications, including books written by Herbert Nicholson, and photographs.
    Physical location: Japanese American National Museum, 100 North Central Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90012


    By appointment only. Please Contact the Collections Management and Access Unit by email (collections@janm.org) or telephone (213-830-5615).

    Publication Rights

    All requests for permission to publish, reproduce, or quote from materials in this collection must be submitted to the Hirasaki National Resource Center at the Japanese American National Museum (collections@janm.org).

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Herbert V. Nicholson papers. 2003.1, Japanese American National Museum. Los Angeles, CA.

    Acquisition Information

    Gift of Donald V. Nicholson, 2003.

    Biography / Administrative History

    Reverend Herbert V. Nicholson was a Quaker minister and missionary who spent his life working on the evangelical circuit in Japan. Born in Rochester, New York in 1892, Nicholson spent his early childhood in Greater New York before moving with his family to the suburbs of Philadelphia. Nicholson attended a number of Quaker schools, including the prestigious Westlawn Boarding School, before attending Haverford College. Shorting after graduation, Nicholson worked as a secondary school teacher back in his hometown before ultimately decided to become a missionary. Assigned to Japan in 1915, Nicholson worked diligently under the supervision of the Quakers and was soon among their most conversant speakers of Japanese. He met and married his wife, Madeline Waterhouse, in Yokohama and the couple had three children, Virginia, Samuel, and Donald. The Nicholson family returned to the United States when Japan began to invade China in 1939. After renting a home in Pasadena, Reverend Nicholson was assigned by the Quakers to work at the West Los Angeles Community Methodist Church.
    A charismatic preacher, Nicholson won over not only the Nisei congregation, but their parents who were impressed with his Japanese language skills. Nicholson's longtime affiliation with the Japanese and Japanese American community proved important in the context of their forced removal. Nicholson and his family were tireless defenders of Japanese Americans throughout the war. Nicholson was one of two ministers who helped Japanese Americans on Terminal Island leave their homes. Driving for over 30 hours, Nicholson helped a number of families store their valuables temporarily before bringing them to the camps, something he did throughout the war for Japanese American families. In another instance, Nicholson visited Assistant Secretary of War, John J. McCloy and worked toward bringing about a plan of action with respect to resettlement.
    In 1945 the Friendship Home was established by Ichi Kojima in Pasadena, California as an after-care home for discharged tuberculosis patients. Both Herbert and Madeline were involved with the Friendship Home, visiting often while they were in the United States and continuing to write letter with Kojima while living in Japan. The Friendship Home’s history is rooted in the forced removal of Japanese Americans following the passage of Executive Order 9066 and the transfer of 156 Japanese American tuberculosis patients from Olive View Sanitarium in Sylmar, California to the War Relocation Authority’s Hillcrest Detention Facility in La Crescenta, California. Kojima’s husband, Kenji, was one of these patients and following his death in 1945 she decided to dedicate her life to caring for tuberculosis patients. The Friendship Home officially opened its doors in 1945 to patients recently discharged from the Hillcrest Detention Facility and could house up to fifteen patients at a time. Kojima worked at the Friendship from 1945 until her retirement in 1954 and Paul Hashimoto took over the Friendship Home until its closure in 1976.
    After the war, the Nicholson family returned to Japan. In one of their many trips between the U.S. and Japan, Herbert brought thousands of goats, sheep, chicken and other types of livestock to help many of the small towns devastated by wartime. He soon became known as "Uncle Goat" and was honored with an Imperial Decoration, 4th Class of the Sacred Treasure for his efforts.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The collection is largely comprised of letters written to the Nicholsons with many of them dealing with Ichi Kojima’s retirement and other Friendship Home business. There are also letters to members of the Nicholson family about missionary work and other subjects unrelated to the Friendship Home. In addition to the letters, there is a Friendship home inventory and a copy of the pamphlet “My Experience with the Wartime Relocation of Japanese” by Esther B. Rhoads and a copy of the Friends Journal from November 1992. There are also photographs of the Hirashiki family, who were employed at the Friendship Home.


    The collection is broken down into the following series:
    Series 1: Letters
    Series 2: Publications
    Series 3: Photographs

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Nicholson, Herbert Victor, 1892-
    Nicholson, Madeline
    Kojima, Ichi
    Ikeda, Seirin
    Quaker missionaries
    World War, 1939-1945
    United States. War Relocation Authority
    Japanese Americans--Evacuation and relocation, 1942-1945
    Japanese Americans
    Friendship Home, Pasadena (Calif.)
    Hillcrest Detention Center
    Olive View Sanitarium
    Pasadena (Calif.)