Japan Resources at the Divinity Library

The Divinity Library holds both original format and microform collections of manuscript and archival materials related to missionary work and the Christian church in Japan. These records are of use both in providing information about events, movements, and institutions in Japan, and in providing insight into the Western societies that sent, supported, and were embodied in the missionaries.
Types of missionary records:
  • Personal letters, diaries, writings, memorabilia of individuals working in an area
  • Letters, reports, and financial information related to the mission agencies for which they were working
  • Periodicals and reports distributed by those agencies
  • Narratives and memoirs written by missionaries
How to find archival materials:
Samples of collections held at the Divinity Library:
  • Charlotte B. De Forest Papers (RG178): Deforest was a missionary educator in Japan from 1903 to 1940, serving on the faculty and as president of Kobe College. During World War II she was involved in work with Japanese-American detainees.
  • James Laughton Papers (RG190): Laughton was an American Baptist missionary who was captain of Fukuin Maru mission ship off coast of Japan (1920-1926)
  • Harman V. S. Peeke Papers (RG185): Peeke and his wife were missionaries in Japan from 1893 to 1929, serving under the Reformed Church in America
  • Arthur Willis Stanford Papers (RG30): Stanford was an American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions missionary to Japan (1886-1920) and professor at Doshisha University (1886-1895).
  • Archives of the Japan International Christian University Foundation (RG89)
  • Archives of the World Student Christian Federation (RG46) include documentation of the student Christian movement in Japan (1890s-1920s).
  • Archives of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM)

Microfilm collection: Film Ms.32 See the online guide.

The ABCFM was an American, Congregational mission agency. The documents date from 1862 and include letters written by missionaries to the home board, station reports, minutes, etc.  An example of the documentation is the extensive correspondence of O.H. Gulick who was stationed in Kobe and Nigata from 1870 to 1893. Gulick started the first Japanese Christian newspaper in 1875, the weekly Shichiichi Zappo. There is also documentation of educational work in Japan, such as re. Kobe College and Doshisha University.

  • Archives of the Church Missionary Society (CMS)

Microfilm collection: Film Ms 109, Section I: East Asia Mission

The CMS was a British mission agency.  Examples of documentation include: Part 1: the archive of the Loochoo Naval Mission, 1843-1861, with the important journals of Dr Bernard Bettelheim and Rev G H Morton, describing their missionary activities. Researchers can study the papers relating to the main educational centre in Osaka, where the famous CMS school for girls was opened in 1879 and developed under the guidance of Miss Katherine Tristram between 1888 and 1925. There is also good material on the work of Rev John Batchelor amongst the Ainu on the island of Yezu.  See the online guide(Reels 1-21). Part 2 continues coverage of the Japan Mission and comprises Original Papers for 1887-1915. There is material on the CMS missions at Osaka, Tokyo, Hakodate, Tokushima, Fukuoka, Matsuye, Hiroshima, Sapporo and Otaru. Reports from different mission stations cover the experiences of individual missionaries, their problems and working conditions. See the online guide.

  • Archives of the Board of Missions of the Methodist Episcopal Church

Microfilm collection – Film Ms. 170 See the online guide.

The Methodist Episcopal Church was an American mission agency. This collection includes of missionary letters and reports with the earliest records from 1887.

  • Japan Through Western Eyes

Microfilm collection: Film Ms. 117 See the online guide. This collection includes missionary documents from the William R. Perkins Library at Duke University.  Individuals for whom records are available include the following:

  • John Caldwell Calhoun Newton, missionary of the Methodist Church South, first went to Japan in 1888 as a faculty member of the Kwansei Gakuin Union Mission College and Seminary in Kobe, Japan. He lived in Japan until 1897, and then again between 1903-1923..  (Reels 4-13)
  • Hattie (McClain) Gring was a missionary in Japan during the 1880s and 1890s. Sponsored first by the German Reformed Church and later by the Protestant Episcopal Church, the Grings lived in Yokohama, Tokyo and Kyoto. Hattie Gring’s letters are contained in the papers of Mary E (McClain) Sword (Reel 19)
  • Elizabeth Russell was Methodist missionary in Nagasaki. Russell wrote about Japanese customs, missionary work in Japan, the restoration of that country, and Russian refugees in Japan. Her letters are contained in the papers of William E. Tolbert. (Reel 20)

  • Additional microform archival collections: Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Church, Board of World Missionsm Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., United Evangelical Lutheran Church (U.S) Board of Foreign Mission
Documentation of the “Nanking Massacre”:
The Divinity Library collections include notable documentation of the Japanese occupation of Nanjing during the late 1930s.  Many of these documents have been digitized and are available on the this website.
For more information, contact the Divinity Library Special Collections Librarian, Christopher Anderson at christopher.j.anderson@yale.edu or 203 432 5289.
Last modified: 
Tuesday, August 22, 2017 - 3:45pm