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Archives & Manuscripts

Inazo Nitobe Papers

 Collection
Identifier: SFHL-RG5-107
This collection contains the papers of Inazo Nitobe (1862-1933), Japanese Quaker diplomat, agriculturist, and educator who sought to act as an emissary of understanding between Japan and Western nations. He is highly respected as an internationalist, an important individual who helped in the transition of Japan to a modern society, as well as pioneer educator and essayist. It includes chiefly biographical articles concerning Inazo Nitobe and his wife, Mary P. (Elkinton) Nitobe, family correspondence, writings and speeches, and some miscellaneous material.

Dates

  • 1890-1991

Creator

Limitations on Accessing the Collection

Inazo and Mary Nitobe's correspondence is very fragile, and the originals should not be handled. Acid-free copies are filed in a separate folder for access. In addition, most of the Nitobe correspondence has been microfilmed. Access is through microfilm when available. Collection is open for research.

Copyright and Rights Information

Copyright has not been assigned to Friends Historical Library. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in to the Director. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Friends Historical Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by reader.

Extent

1.75 Linear Feet (4 boxes)

Overview

Inazo Nitobe (1862-1933) was a Japanese Quaker diplomat, agriculturist, and educator who sought to act as an emissary of understanding between Japan and Western nations. He was born in Morioka, Japan, in the waning days of feudal Japan and became a Christian during his studies in Sapporo. He was further educated at Tokyo University and in 1884 became one of the first Japanese students to study in the United States. He joined the Society of Friends in 1886, and in 1891, he married Mary Patterson Elkinton, a Quaker from a prominent Philadelphia family, under the care of Philadelphia Monthly Meeting (Orthodox). This marriage was highly controversial at the time and against the wishes of both families. Mary P. Elkinton (1857-1938) was the daughter of Joseph S. and Malinda (Patterson) Elkinton. The Elkinton family was prominently involved in social causes. After the W.W.I, Nitobe became Under Secretary-General to the League of Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, a post he held until 1926. He later returned to Japan where he held government positions and served as Chairman of the Institute of Pacific Relations. A state funeral was held in Japan attended by 3,000 people. and in 1984, his portrait was selected for the 5,000 Japanese yen note. He is highly respected as an internationalist, an important individual who helped in the transition of Japan to a modern society, as well as pioneer educator and spiritual man. The collection chiefly contains secondary biographical material concerning Inazo Nitobe and his wife Mary Patterson (Elkinton) Nitobe and their correspondence with the Elkinton family (1890-1938). It also contains some Nitobe writings and speeches and miscellaneous material.

Biographical / Historical

Inazo Nitobe (1862-1933) was a Japanese Quaker diplomat, agriculturist, and educator who sought to act as an emissary of understanding between Japan and Western nations. He was born in Morioka, Japan, in the waning days of feudal Japan, a descendant of samurai, and became a Christian during his studies in Sapporo. He was further educated at Tokyo University and in 1884 became one of the first Japanese students to study in the United States, first at Allegheny College in Pa. and then at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Md. He joined the Society of Friends in 1886, and in 1891, he married Mary Patterson Elkinton, a Quaker from a prominent Philadelphia family, under the care of Philadelphia Monthly Meeting (Orthodox). This marriage was highly controversial at the time and against the wishes of both families. Mary P. Elkinton (1857-1938) was the daughter of Joseph S. and Malinda (Patterson) Elkinton. The Elkinton family was prominently involved in social causes in Philadelphia, Pa.

After the W.W.I, Nitobe became Under Secretary-General to the League of Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, a post he held until 1926. He later returned to Japan where he held government positions and served as Chairman of the Institute of Pacific Relations. The Nitobes' only child died in infancy, and they adopted two children: Inazo Nitobe's nephew, Yoshio, and a daughter, Kotoko, a distant relative. Nitobe died in British Columbia, Canada, in 1933 while representing Japan at a the Fifth Conference of the Institute of Pacific Relations. A state funeral was held in Japan attended by 3,000 people. and in 1984, his memory was honored when his portrait was selected for the 5,000 Japanese yen note. He is highly respected as an internationalist, an important individual who helped in the transition of Japan to a modern society, as well as pioneer educator and spiritual man.

Arrangement

The collection is divided into four series
  1. Biographical (mostly articles concerning Inazo and Mary P. Nitobe
  2. Correspondence, 1890-1997
  3. Writings and speeches
  4. Miscellaneous

Physical Location

For current information on the location of materials, please consult the Library's online catalog

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donor: J. Passmore Elkinton, ca. 1964

Donor: David C. and Marian Elkinton, 1976, 1985, 1992

J. Passmore Elkinton was the nephew of Mary (Elkinton) Nitobe. David C. Elkinton is his son.

Related Materials

See also:
  1. Elkinton Family Papers, RG 5/037
  2. Montsuki (ceremonial robe with family crest) of Inazo Nitobe (transferred to Morioka Museum of Great Predecessors, Morioka, Japan). See Series 5 for correspondence concerning transfer.

Separated Materials

The following material, originally part of the collection, was transferred to FHL stacks in 1987:
  1. “Inazo Nitobe” - Commemorative booklet, issued in 1983, (50 yrs. after his death). Illustrated; Report on 50th Anniversary Events (also issued 50 yrs. after his death). Many illustrations in color of ceremonies and exhibits in Morioka, Japan. (156 pp.)
  2. Nitobe, Inazo. Bushido: The Soul of Japan. Philadelphia: Leeds and Biddle, 1900
  3. Nitobe, Inazo. “Carlyle's `Sartor Resartus' -Five Lectures by the Late Dr. Inazo Nitobe,” Edited by Yasaka Takagi, Tokyo, 1938
  4. Nitobe, Inazo. What the League of Nations Has Done and Is Doing. Lecture at the International University, Brussels, 1920
  5. Sasaki, Takamura (“Ko”). "America's NITOBE INAZO”, TV Director, Iwate Broadcasting Co., Morioka, Iwate Prefecture, Japan (Nitobe's birthplace). Published May 15, 1985. (253 pp.) (This book describes the making of the video tape, “Bridge across the Pacific” by the I.B.C., shown on TV in Japan during the winter 1983-84. Mr. Sasaki visited FHL photographed some of the documents in the Nitobe collection.)
  6. Takagi, Yasaka, ed. The Late Dr. Inazo Nitobe's Unfinished Translation of “Lao-Tzu” and the “Kojiki”. Reprinted from Comparative Studies of Culture, Nos. 8 and 9 (1962-3) (duplicate)
  7. Yanaihara, Tadao. Uchimura Kanzo and Nitobe Inazo. Nissan Shobo.
  8. "The Life of Dr. Nitobe," by Sukeo Kitisawa, Tokyo, 1953. (93 pp.) Book on Inazo Nitobe publihsed in Japan, includes some letters in English, 1969
  9. Quaker Encounters, Vol. 3., Whispers of Truth," by John Ormerod Greenwook, York, England, 1978

General

  1. Elkinton, David Cope. Family Footprints, Vol. IV, 1992.

Processing Information

The papers were given to FHL partially processed. Later additions from the same donor concerning the family were added to collection, and secondary articles from various sources are added to Series 1, Biographical. In January 2002, the finding aid was revised and clarified.

Creator

Title
An Inventory of the Inazo Nitobe Papers, 1890-2005
Author
FHL staff
Date
ca. 1965
Language of description
English
Sponsor
Encoding made possible by a grant by the Gladys Kriebel Delmas Foundation to the Philadelphia Consortium of Special Collections Libraries

Revision Statements

  • 2016: This electronic finding aid was updated in Summer 2016 by Abdulrezak Kemal in preparation for importing into ArchivesSpace, to conform to current markup standards and the ArchivesSpace data model.

Find It at the Library

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