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Kan'ichi Asakawa papers

Call Number: MS 40

Scope and Contents

The papers consist of correspondence, diaries, writings, notes, photographs, and miscellanea documenting the personal life and professional career of Kan'ichi Asakawa, a professor of Japanese history at Yale University and author of several works on Japanese history. The Asakawa Papers are organized in three series:

SERIES I, CORRESPONDENCE, 1895-1955, contains letters to and from family members, beginning with Asakawa's first years in the United States, as a student at Dartmouth College and Yale University (1895-1902). Letters are written in both Japanese and English, depending on the correspondent. Additional correspondence relates to Asakawa's academic and literary interests, particularly his interest in Esperanto, an artificial language. Asakawa corresponded with David Morris and other members of the International Auxiliary Language Association on this topic. Letters written during World War II focus on the reaction of individuals to Japanese-Americans living in the United States and Asakawa's thoughts on this subject are often recorded in letters. A draft of a letter Asakawa wrote for President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to send to the Japanese emperor in order to prevent hostilities from commencing in 1941 is also arranged in this series.

SERIES II, DIARIES, 1900-1948, contains several volumes of personal journals from 1900-1925 and 1940-1948. Asakawa's early journals are those of a college student and young educator, and contain many references to the differences in culture he encountered as an immigrant from Japan. Later journals detail Asakawa's personal and professional activities, and, once again, material written during the years of World War II focuses on the responsibilities and treatment of Japanese-Americans.

SERIES III, WRITINGS, NOTES, AND MISCELLANEA, 1894-1940, consists of articles, essays, notes, photographs, student papers and other materials. The bulk of material relates to Japanese history, although a section of "Notes" contains research files on modern European and French history in addition to extensive files on Japanese history. Under the heading "Japanese chronicles" is a group of research notes on a wide variety of Japanese historical topics from 1172-1945. Material relating to the Yale Association of Japan (folders 288-292) and the Yale Japanese Club (folder 296) is also arranged in this series.


  • 1894-1994
  • Majority of material found within 1894 - 1955


Language of Materials

The materials are in English, Chinese, and Japanese.

Conditions Governing Access

Original audiotape, videotape, and motion picture films, as well as preservation masters and duplicating masters, may not be played. Researchers needing to consult the original materials should consult the finding aid for policies governing reproduction for access.

Series I, Correspondence (Boxes 1-4), Series II, Diaries (Boxes 5-6), and Series III, Writings, Notes, and Miscellanea (Boxes 7-10, 51-52, and 56-57) are available on microfilm. Patrons must use FILM HM 201 instead of the originals.

Existence and Location of Copies

Boxes 1-10, 51-52, and 56-57 are available on microfilm (9715 frames on 10 reels, 35mm) from Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library, at cost. Order no. HM201.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of the estate of Kan'ichi Asakawa, 1946-1948; Mary Rouse, 1984; Yoshio Abe, 1984; and Jerome Pollitt, 1990; transferred from the East Asian Collection Curator, 2000-2001, 2004. Transferred from the East Asia Library, 2009.


Arranged in three series and additions: I. Correspondence, 1895-1955. II. Diaries, 1900-1948. III. Writings, Notes, and Miscellanea, 1894-1940.


22.5 Linear Feet

Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The papers consist of correspondence, diaries, writings, notes, photographs, and miscellanea documenting the personal life and professional career of Kan'ichi Asakawa, a professor of Japanese history at Yale University and author of several books on Japanese history.

Biographical / Historical

Kan'ichi Asakawa was born in Nihommatsu, Japan, on December 20, 1873. He graduated from Waseda University (B.L., 1895), Dartmouth College (B.L., 1899), and Yale University (Ph.D., 1902). He taught Japanese history at Yale (1906-1942, professor emeritus, 1942-1948), and served as curator of Chinese and Japanese Collections (1907-1948). Asakawa wrote several books and articles on Japanese history. He died in West Wardsboro, Vermont, on August 11, 1948.

Guide to the Kan'ichi Asakawa Papers
Under Revision
compiled by staff of Manuscripts and Archives
June 1984
Description rules
Finding Aid Created In Accordance With Manuscripts And Archives Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

Yale University Library
P.O. Box 208240
New Haven CT 06520-8240 US
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Sterling Memorial Library
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