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Esther B. Rhoads collection on Quakers in Japan

Identifier: HC.MC-950-156

Scope and Contents

This collection is comprised of three folders of materials related to Quakers in Japan, and specifically focuses on information about Anna C. Hartshorne, an American Quaker, and Inazo Nitobe, a Japanese Quaker, collected by Esther B. Rhoads. The collection includes mainly Nitobe's correspondence, but also includes photographs of various members of the Hartshorne family, as well as members of Inazo Nitobe's family.


  • Creation: 1897-1935


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

Standard Federal Copyright Laws Apply (U.S. Title 17).

Biographical Note

Inazo Nitobe (1862-1933) was a Japanese Quaker, author, educator, and politician. He rose to fame as an agricultural sugar expert, was the president of several colleges, and was a Carnegie exchange professor to the United States. At age 13, Nitobe entered Tokyo English School. By studying English, he became acquainted with Christianity and the Bible. In 1877, he entered the newly founded Sapparo Agricultural College in the northern island of Hokkaido, and graduated in 1881. William S. Clark, from Amherst College, was the vice principal of the Sapparo Agricultural College, although he left the college before Nitobe started attending. He left a strong influence on the students, particularly in the teaching of ethics. He said the only way he could teach ethics was by teaching the Bible. All of his students became Christians and signed Clark’s “Covenant of Believers in Jesus.” Nitobe subsequently became a Friend when he was 22 years old while doing graduate study at Johns Hopkins University. He joined Baltimore Yearly Meeting. In 1885, Inazo and a Japanese classmate were invited from Baltimore to Philadelphia by the Women’s Foreign Missionary Association of Friends to advise them about establishing a Quaker mission in Japan. This ultimately resulted in the establishment of the Friends Girls School in Tokyo, as well as ten agricultural missions in Iberaki Province, just north of Tokyo. Most notably, Nitobe was the leader of the Japanese delegation to the League of Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1919, and when he arrived there he was promptly appointed under-secretary general of the League. Nitobe is famous for coining the phrase “Bridge across the Pacific,” for writing the history of William Penn, and for the book, Bushido: The Soul of Japan. He is the only known Quaker whose picture is on his country’s currency.

Anna Cope Hartshorne (1860-1957) was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Henry Hartshorne and Mary Elizabeth Brown. Anna Hartshorne was prominent in the founding of Tsuda College for women, one of the first women's institutions of higher education in Japan, in Tokyo, Japan in 1900, and nurtured it over the next 40 years. She almost singly raised funds in the United States to rebuild the college after the 1923 earthquake. Hartshorne met Ume Tsuda, another founder of Tsuda College, at Bryn Mawr College in 1885, where the Japanese woman was studying at the invitation of president James E. Rhoads and where Hartshorne was studying Greek. The only child of Dr. Henry Hartshorne, an advocate of female medical education, Anna Hartshorne would sit for the Harvard University Examinations for Women in 1888, which she passed with high credit in Elementary Greek and German. Hartshorne renewed her acquaintance with Tsuda when she came to Tokyo in 1893 with her father at the invitation of a group of Japanese doctors impressed with Dr. Hartshorne's work, "Essentials of the Principles and Practice of Medicine." In 1897, she and her father again returned to Japan as lay missionaries, and Anna taught at the Friends' School in Tokyo. When her father died later that year, it was Ume Tsuda who helped her friend overcome her sorrow. But it would be Hartshorne who would be the mainstay of Tsuda College when it was founded as Joshi Eigaku Juku (Women's Institute of English Studies) in 1900, with the financial assistance of a group of Philadelphia women. It was the first institute for women in Japan to offer an education beyond the high school level. Hartshorne had helped to raise such funds for Tsuda's school in association with the Committee of The American Women's Scholarship for Japanese Women. She came again to Japan in May, 1902, to teach at Tsuda's school, but only planned to stay for six months. During travels in Europe, she became aware that her life's work was in Japan. As a teacher and administrator at Joshi Eigaku Juku until 1940, Anna would influence two generations of Japanese women. Because of her friendship with Mary Elkinton, author Nitobe Inazo's wife, she was instrumental in the writing of "Bushido: The Soul of Japan" (1900), an explanation of the Japanese samurai ethic in English, a book still in print today. She published her own book, "Japan and Her People," in 1902. Anna Hartshorne also helped support and guide Tsuda College until the onset of World War II. When the 1923 earthquake devastated Japan, when hundreds of thousands were killed and Tsuda College destroyed, she took off for the United States and, over the next few years, raised $500,000 to rebuild the college. Ume Tsuda died in 1930, but Hartshorne remained to oversee rebuilding of the college and continue Ume Tsuda's expectations for Japanese women. Hartshorne went on home leave in 1940, with every intention of returning to Tsuda College, but once the Pacific War began she was unable to fulfill her promise. She died in Philadelphia on October 2, 1957, at the age of 97.

Esther Biddle Rhoads (1896-1979) was born into a Quaker family in Philadelphia, the daughter of Margaret Paxson Rhoads and Edward G. Rhoads. Her siblings were an older sister, Ruth Ely Rhoads; a younger sister, Caroline Paxson Rhoads; and a younger brother, Jonathan Evans Rhoads (who became a prominent Philadelphia physician and educator). She was educated at a variety of institutions, including the Germantown Friends School, Drexel Institute (now University), and Earlham College and, over the course of her life, spent significant amounts of time in Japan at the Friends Girls School and as a member of the American Friends Service Committee. At the Friends Girls School she began work as a teacher and eventually became principal. She was in Japan from approximately 1920 to 1960, only leaving during World War II. In addition to her Friends School work, she also took part in the Licensed Agencies for Relief in Asia, efforts to help Japanese-American internees during World War II, and relief work in Tunisia.


.1 Linear Feet (2 folders)




This collection is comprised of three folders of materials related to Quakers in Japan, and specifically focuses on information about Anna C. Hartshorne, an American Quaker, and Inazo Nitobe, a Japanese Quaker, collected by Esther B. Rhoads.



Related Materials

  • HC.MC.950.140 Inazo Nitobe papers
  • HC.MC.1153 Esther B. Rhoads papers
  • HC.MC.1030 Hartshorne family papers

Processing Information

Processed by Kara Flynn; completed March, 2016.

Esther B. Rhoads collection on Quakers in Japan, 1897-1935
Kara Flynn
March, 2016
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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