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Japanese photograph album relating to the late Taisho/early Showa era


Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. 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

During the middle of the Taisho era (circa 1919) to the early-to-middle Showa era (circa 1941), Japan transitioned from a fledgling democracy to a militaristic imperial power with conquests throughout East and Southeast Asia. During this time, the boundaries between civilian and military life were increasingly blurred, as the Japanese economy pivoted towards wartime production. Men who were not on active duty participated in professional organizations related to the war effort, such as civil engineering corps, and women of all classes (especially middle and upper class women) were active in organizations like the Greater Japan National Defense Women's Association, a league of women who supported the war effort by organizing recycling drives and preparedness drills.

This album contains roughly 130 photographs, most of which appear to be centered (based on recurring images and patterns of dress) around an upper-class Japanese family during the late Taisho and early-to-mid Showa era (circa 1919-1941). The photographs are a mix of portraits, informal small group shots, and large-scale organizational photographs documenting school classes, military units, civilian leagues and professional associations. Many of the photographs appear to come from soldiers stationed abroad—probably Manchuria. The group photographs provide a fascinating cross-section of Japanese life in an increasingly militarized society where many groups served both military and civilian functions; male members of the family worked within the Ishikawa Civil Engineers, while female members volunteered with the Greater Japan National Defense Woman's Association. Action shots depicting evacuation drills may be of particular interest to researchers seeking documentation of Japanese wartime practices on the home front. There are also photographs of school trips and family outings, as well as portraits of parents and children in domestic spaces.

Sold by Alexander Historical Auctions, 2019

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Finding Aid Author
Sam Allingham
Finding Aid Date
2021 September 3
Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research use.

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Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.

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Photograph album, 1919-1941.
Box 1 Folder 1

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