Skip to main content

Gilbert and Minnie Pickett Bowles Family papers

Identifier: HC.MC-1161

Scope and Contents

The papers document the lives of service of Quakers Gilbert Bowles (1869-1960) and Minnie Picket Bowles (1868-1958) who ministered in Asia and Hawaii for over 60 years, from 1896-1960. It also recounts over 60 years of service of all the members of the Bowles family including the sons of Gilbert and Minnie Pickett Bowles, Gordon T. Bowles and Herbert E. Bowles, providing insight into America's relationship with the Asian nations, particularly Japan, and with the Japanese people. The collection contains both mission related and personal correspondence.


  • 1896-1974

Access Restrictions

Access to Criminal case files in Box 12 is restricted; otherwise, no restrictions

Copyright and Rights Information

Box 12 - Criminal case files – is restricted; otherwise, no restrictions

Biographical / Historical

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, n.d..

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.

Gordon T. Bowles (1904-1991) was the son of Gilbert and Minnie Pickett Bowles. He m. Jane Thomas in 1932. He received his B.A. from Earlham College, 1925 and Ph.D. from Harvard University, 1935. Bowles played an important role as a liaison officer representing the Department of State and an advisor to the Educational Mission to Japan. At Harvard, he was a research associate in the Division of Anthropology, 1935- 38; then assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Hawaii, 1938-42. He served with the U.S. Foreign Economic Administration, Washington, D.C., 1942-44 and with the U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C., 1944-47 then with Associated Research Councils, Conference Board, Washington, D.C., 1947-51. He was a visiting professor at the University of Tokyo, 1951-58; and then at Columbia University, New York, NY, 1959-60. He was professor of anthropology at Syracuse University, 1961--. As a Field researcher, he worked in West China and East Tibet, 1930-32, and in the Himalayas and North Burma, 1935-37. His memberships include: American Anthropological Association (fellow), American Association of Physical Anthropologists, Association for Asian Studies, Asiatic Society of Japan, and Sigma Chi. Bowles was author of New Types of Old White Americans (at Harvard and Eastern Women's Colleges), Harvard University Press, 1932; (Editor with Earl Wendel Count) Fact and Theory in Social Science, Syracuse University Press, 1964; and The People of Asia, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, Scribner, 1977

His wife, Jane T. Bowles, helped to open the Hawaii Branch of the American Friends Service Committee, a group which supported those in need in Japan and Hawaii, especially during the war years. Herbert E. Bowles, a physician, assisted with medical and social service, chiefly in Hawaii. (Information from internal evidence; Contemporary Authors (online); Biographical Dictionary of Modern Peace Leaders. Greenwood Press, 1984)


13.5 Linear Feet (27 document boxes and 1 photograph in tube)




The papers document the lives of service of Quakers Gilbert Bowles (1869-1960) and Minnie Picket Bowles (1868-1958) who ministered in Asia and Hawaii for over 60 years, from 1896-1960.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Gordon and Jane Bowles and Helen Bowles Nicholson et al., 1989

Related Materials

Collection 1212: Bowles Family correspondence

Processing Information

Processing history is unknown
Gilbert and Minnie Pickett Bowles Family papers, 1896-1974
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Find It at the Library

Most of the materials in this catalog are not digitized and can only be accessed in person. Please see our website for more information about visiting Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections Library

370 Lancaster Ave
Haverford PA 19041 USA US