Primary Sources: Foreign Office Files for Japan, 1919-1952

map of railwayThe Library has acquired the online archive Foreign Office Files for Japan, 1919-1952, which is sourced from Foreign Office Files from the UK National Archives.  We currently have access to Modules I & II; Module III will be added in the near future.

As described at the site, “these papers throw light on Anglo-Japanese ties in a time of shifting alliances. Documenting Japan’s journey to modernity, the files discuss a period in which the country took on an increasingly bold imperialist agenda. Strong relations following the signing of the Treaty of Versailles were tested then ultimately destroyed, and by December 1941, Japan and the United Kingdom were on opposing sides of the Second World War.

“These Foreign Office files cover British concerns over colonial-held territory in the Far East, as well as Japanese relations with China, Russia, Germany and the United States. Following surrender at the end of the Second World War, Japan was occupied by foreign forces for the first time in its history. The occupation resulted in disarmament, liberalisation and a new constitution as the country was transformed into a parliamentary democracy. Japan emerged once again as a player on the world stage.

“Consisting of diplomatic dispatches, correspondence, maps, summaries of events and diverse other material, this collection from the rich FO 371 and FO 262 series unites formerly restricted Japan-centric documents, and is enhanced by the addition of a selection of FO 371 Western and American Department and Far Eastern sub papers.”


Primary Sources: Meiji Japan

The American Edward Sylvester Morse traveled to Japan in 1877 searching for biological specimens and was welcomed by the Japanese Meiji government, which allowed him to establish a marine laboratory at Enoshima and offered him a position at the recently established Imperial University of Tokyo. While in Japan Morse acquired an interest in Japanese pottery and developed a significant collection that was deposited in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. After returning to the United States in 1880, he became director of the Peabody Museum, a position that allowed him to spend additional time in Japan, where he produced ethnological works and assembled materials that documented the vanishing feudal Tokugawa civilization. His papers, deposited at the Phillips Library of the Peabody Museum have been digitized in Meiji Japan.

The collection of personal and professional papers includes diaries, correspondence, research files, drawings, lecture notes, publications, scrapbooks, and manuscripts, which document the numerous contributions made by Morse to the areas of malacology, zoology, ethnology, archeology, and art history. The digitized documents retain the same organizational structure as the original archive and there is a rudimentary search tool that allows for a search of finding aid labels and subject terms associated with the documents. Full-text searching is not available as the documents are primarily hand-written.