Main content

Herbert V. Nicholson papers


Held at: Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections [Contact Us]370 Lancaster Ave, Haverford, PA 19041

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Herbert Nicholson (1892-1983) was born in 1892 in Rochester, New York, to Quaker parents. Nicholson was educated at Quaker schools, including Haverford College. On his 23rd birthday, he announced he wanted to become a missionary in Japan. In 1915, he began working as secretary to Gilbert Bowles, a Quaker missionary in Tokyo, where he met congregational missionary Madeline Waterhouse, whom he married in 1920. In 1922, feeling the call of rural duty, the couple relocated to Mito in Ibaraki Prefecture, where farmers were less responsive to proselytizing than to practical aid. Nicholson started a savings account program for them, launched a goat farm, involved himself in the temperance movement, built a home for the aged, and ministered to people with leprocy. In the late 1930s, Japan's aggressive military incursions in China and the resulting political tensions between Japan and the United States hampered the Nicholsons' ability to work and live in Japan. They returned to the United States in 1940, and settled in Pasadena, California. During World War II, in addition to offering spiritual succor and ferrying belongings and people between concentration camps, detention centers, and medical facilities, Nicholson defended prisoners in speeches at churches and community organizations, traveled to military bases to comfort Nisei soldiers, and to the halls of power in Washington, D.C. to advocate for the release of their families from prison camps. When Nicholson was approached to fill in for an ailing Methodist minister at the all-Japanese American West Los Angeles Methodist Church in 1940 for $40 a month, he agreed, preaching in both English and Japanese while Madeline served as Sunday School superintendent.

This collection contains two letters written by Herbert V. Nicholson regarding the relocation and evacuation of Japanese Americans into internment camps during the second World War. Additionally contained within the collection are the personal notes of Nicholson on the Japanese internment camps, recorded in 1964, and three photographs of the camps.

This collection is arranged in a single folder.


Processed by Alexandra Stern; completed March, 2019.

Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
Alexandra Stern
Finding Aid Date
March, 2019
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

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

Collection Inventory

Herbert V. Nicholson papers, 1964-1982.
Box 57

Print, Suggest