Scope and Content note
This collection is comprised of two accessions of the letters of Gilbert and Minnie Bowles. The collection is comprised of both private letters and public letters meant for circulation among Friends, written by Gilbert Bowles and his wife Minnie Bowles during their religious visits to India and Japan.
Gilbert Bowles (1869-1960), the son of Quakers Ephraim and Elizabeth Epperson Bowles received his B.A. from Penn College in 1898 and his M.A. in 1899/1900. He received a Litt.D. in 1938, an LL.D. from Whittier College in 1917 and another from Haverford College in 1938. He m. Minnie M. Pickett in 1898. He arrived in Tokyo as a Quaker missionary in 1901 and spent 40 years there. He helped restructure Friends Meetings in Japan after the war with China of the late 1890s had torn them apart. A teacher, leader and administrator of Tokyo Friends Girls School, he was chairman of the trustees Friends’ Girls’ School, 1901-41. He helped lay the foundation of the present Tokyo Friends Center program. He strongly believed that international problems could be solved through concerted peaceful efforts, and in the case of Japan, would provide solution to its international problems. He was a founder of the Japan Peace Society in 1906, which he served as corresponding secretary and director. In 1924, the Japan Peace Society transferred its work to the League of Nations Association of Japan and Bowles served as the Executive Secretary of its Foreign Section. Bowles promoted peace through the = Japan branch of the Fellowship of Reconciliation. He strove to reduce Japan's differences with Korea, China and the U.S. He opposed the U.S. Immigration Act of 1924, suggesting it would strengthen Japan's military cult. In 1941, Gilbert and Minnie Bowles removed to Hawaii where they helped Japanese who suffered from U.S. internment policies. After the war, Bowles assisted Japan with various relief and rehabilitation projects. Gilbert Bowles was the author of Jamaica and Friends Missions, 1899; and The Peace Movement in Japan.
Minnie Pickett Bowles (1868-1958) arrived to teach in Japan in 1893. During her long career at the Friends Girls School in Tokyo, Japan, Minnie Bowles wife of Gilbert Bowles, taught Bible classes to more than 2,000 young men. Minnie also taught classes in cooking and sewing, serving the home life of Japan. By the 1940s about one hundred girls graduated annually from the Friends Girls School, Tokyo.