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Inazo Nitobe Papers


Held at: Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College [Contact Us]500 College Avenue, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania 19081

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College. 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

Inazo Nitobe (1862-1933) was a Japanese Quaker diplomat, agriculturist, and educator who sought to act as an emissary of understanding between Japan and Western nations. He was born in Morioka, Japan, in the waning days of feudal Japan, a descendant of samurai, and became a Christian during his studies in Sapporo. He was further educated at Tokyo University and in 1884 became one of the first Japanese students to study in the United States, first at Allegheny College in Pa. and then at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Md. He joined the Society of Friends in 1886, and in 1891, he married Mary Patterson Elkinton, a Quaker from a prominent Philadelphia family, under the care of Philadelphia Monthly Meeting (Orthodox). This marriage was highly controversial at the time and against the wishes of both families. Mary P. Elkinton (1857-1938) was the daughter of Joseph S. and Malinda (Patterson) Elkinton. The Elkinton family was prominently involved in social causes in Philadelphia, Pa.

After the W.W.I, Nitobe became Under Secretary-General to the League of Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, a post he held until 1926. He later returned to Japan where he held government positions and served as Chairman of the Institute of Pacific Relations. The Nitobes' only child died in infancy, and they adopted two children: Inazo Nitobe's nephew, Yoshio, and a daughter, Kotoko, a distant relative. Nitobe died in British Columbia, Canada, in 1933 while representing Japan at a the Fifth Conference of the Institute of Pacific Relations. A state funeral was held in Japan attended by 3,000 people. and in 1984, his memory was honored when his portrait was selected for the 5,000 Japanese yen note. He is highly respected as an internationalist, an important individual who helped in the transition of Japan to a modern society, as well as pioneer educator and spiritual man.

This collection contains the papers of Inazo Nitobe (1862-1933), Japanese Quaker diplomat, agriculturist, and educator who sought to act as an emissary of understanding between Japan and Western nations. He is highly respected as an internationalist, an important individual who helped in the transition of Japan to a modern society, as well as pioneer educator and essayist. It includes chiefly biographical articles concerning Inazo Nitobe and his wife, Mary P. (Elkinton) Nitobe, family correspondence, writings and speeches, and some miscellaneous material.

The collection is divided into four series

  1. Biographical (mostly articles concerning Inazo and Mary P. Nitobe
  2. Correspondence, 1890-1997
  3. Writings and speeches
  4. Miscellaneous

  1. Elkinton, David Cope. Family Footprints, Vol. IV, 1992.

Donor: J. Passmore Elkinton, ca. 1964

Donor: David C. and Marian Elkinton, 1976, 1985, 1992

J. Passmore Elkinton was the nephew of Mary (Elkinton) Nitobe. David C. Elkinton is his son.

The papers were given to FHL partially processed. Later additions from the same donor concerning the family were added to collection, and secondary articles from various sources are added to Series 1, Biographical. In January 2002, the finding aid was revised and clarified.

The following material, originally part of the collection, was transferred to FHL stacks in 1987:

  1. "Inazo Nitobe" - Commemorative booklet, issued in 1983, (50 yrs. after his death). Illustrated; Report on 50th Anniversary Events (also issued 50 yrs. after his death). Many illustrations in color of ceremonies and exhibits in Morioka, Japan. (156 pp.)
  2. Nitobe, Inazo. Bushido: The Soul of Japan. Philadelphia: Leeds and Biddle, 1900
  3. Nitobe, Inazo. "Carlyle's `Sartor Resartus' -Five Lectures by the Late Dr. Inazo Nitobe," Edited by Yasaka Takagi, Tokyo, 1938
  4. Nitobe, Inazo. What the League of Nations Has Done and Is Doing. Lecture at the International University, Brussels, 1920
  5. Sasaki, Takamura ("Ko"). "America's NITOBE INAZO", TV Director, Iwate Broadcasting Co., Morioka, Iwate Prefecture, Japan (Nitobe's birthplace). Published May 15, 1985. (253 pp.) (This book describes the making of the video tape, "Bridge across the Pacific" by the I.B.C., shown on TV in Japan during the winter 1983-84. Mr. Sasaki visited FHL photographed some of the documents in the Nitobe collection.)
  6. Takagi, Yasaka, ed. The Late Dr. Inazo Nitobe's Unfinished Translation of "Lao-Tzu" and the "Kojiki". Reprinted from Comparative Studies of Culture, Nos. 8 and 9 (1962-3) (duplicate)
  7. Yanaihara, Tadao. Uchimura Kanzo and Nitobe Inazo. Nissan Shobo.
  8. "The Life of Dr. Nitobe," by Sukeo Kitisawa, Tokyo, 1953. (93 pp.) Book on Inazo Nitobe publihsed in Japan, includes some letters in English, 1969
  9. Quaker Encounters, Vol. 3., Whispers of Truth," by John Ormerod Greenwook, York, England, 1978

Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College
Finding Aid Author
FHL staff
Finding Aid Date
ca. 1965
Encoding made possible by a grant by the Gladys Kriebel Delmas Foundation to the Philadelphia Consortium of Special Collections Libraries
Access Restrictions

Inazo and Mary Nitobe's correspondence is very fragile, and the originals should not be handled. Acid-free copies are filed in a separate folder for access. In addition, most of the Nitobe correspondence has been microfilmed. Access is through microfilm when available. Collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Some of the items in this collection may be protected by copyright. The user is solely responsible for making a final determination of copyright status. If copyright protection applies, permission must be obtained from the copyright holder or their heirs/assigns to reuse, publish, or reproduce relevant items beyond the bounds of Fair Use or other exemptions to the law. See

Collection Inventory

Biographical material.
Box 1
Scope and Contents

Secondary material regarding Inazo Nitobe and his wife, Mary Patterson Elkinton Nitobe, arranged chronologically. Includes:

  1. "Calendar of Events in Nitobe's Life." (microfilmed)
  2. 1890-91, Philadelphia Inquirer. "Nitobe wedding"
  3. 1891/1/1, Accounts of Nitobe-Elkinton Wedding (microfilmed)
  4. 1891/1/14, "A Home in the Orient"
  5. 1911/10/19, Address of welcome by Arnold B. Chace to Dr. Inazo Nitobe at Sayles Hall (microfilmed)
  6. 1929/1/4, Announcement of appointment of Yoshio Nitobe, son of Inazo Nitobe, as editor of The Japan Times and Mail
  7. 1929/1/19, "Two Detectives Shot by Gunman Following Raid On Home of Dr. Nitobe."
  8. 1932, "For the Convenience of the Press...." Reprinted from The Japan Times.
  9. 1932/6/11, Haverford News, Article announcing Nitobe's honorary Degree of Law
  10. 1933, Accounts of travels of Inazo and Mary Nitobe to North America
  11. 1933/10/15, Articles regarding the death of Inazo Nitobe.
  12. 1933/10/17, "Inazo Nitobe," by Howard Elkinton (microfilmed)
  13. 933/10/18, Address at Memorial Services in Vancouver, by Yasaka Takaki. Also, a revised copy. (microfilmed)
  14. 1933/11/10, "America and Goodwill Viewed by a Japanese." Address delivered by Yasaka Takaki at the Good Will Congress of the World Alliance for International Friendship through the Churches.
  15. 1933/11/12, "Dr. Inazo Nitobe - His Career," by Elizabeth Green, in Pacific Affairs, Nov.-Dec. Number, pp.545-550. Also "An Appreciation", by Yasaka Takaki.
  16. 1933(?), Dr. Inazo Nitobe" translation of article in The Friend (Japan).
  17. 1934/10, "A Biography of Inazo Nitobe," by Mitsuru Ishii, summarized in English by Toshiro Shimanouchi. (microfilmed)
  18. 1938/9, Articles regarding the death of Mary Nitobe
  19. 1938/9/26, Mary Patterson Elkinton Nitobe's life story, composed and read by Minnie P. Bowles (microfilmed)
  20. 1940/1/11, "Dr. Nitobe," reminiscences by Katherine Willard Eddy, Executive Secretary, Women's Bible Class, Riverside Church, New York.
  21. 1941/11/5, "Religion of Dr. Nitobe," memorial address by T. Yanaihara, at Friends Meeting House. English translation by Yuri Hayashi of the last chapter (pp.103-128) of T. Yanaihara's Uchimura Kanzo and Nitobe Inazo, 1948, published by Nisson Shobo.
  22. 1942/1/18, "Recollections of Inazo Nitobe," by Blanche Weber Shaffer (2 copies, microfilmed.) Inscribed "To Passmore Elkinton for his birthday from Blanche Shaffer, January 18, 1942."
  23. 1944, Extract from The Time for Decision, by Sumner Wells, p. 273
  24. 1944/11/12, "The Peace Movement in Japan," by Gilbert Bowles, in The Friend, pp. 165ff.
  25. 1948/5/1, "Memories of Dr. Nitobe Return at Azalea Time," by Sukeo Kitasawa
  26. 1948/9/1, "Early Life of Dr. Nitobe," by Sukeo Kitasawa, in Nippon Times.
  27. 1949/12/1, "The Recollections of Dr. Inazo Nitobe," by Y. Takagi, in The New Age
  28. 1952/12/1, "Dr. Nitobe and His Time," by Sukeo Kitasawa, in Bulletin of Tokyo Christian Woman's College
  29. 1952/3/27, [A Wish by Passmore Elkinton to complete a Memoir of Dr. Nitobe] in Iwate Nippo (article in Japanese).
  30. 1952/8, "Dr. Inazo Nitobe and Impressions of Japan," by J. Passmore Elkinton (microfilmed)
  31. 1952/10/17, "Dr. Nitobe, `Bridge of the Pacific,' " by Yasaka Takagi, in Nippon Times
  32. 1952/10/27, "In Memory of Dr. Nitobe on the Occasion of the Issuance of the Postage Stamp with his Portrait," by Yasaka Takagi (microfilmed)
  33. 1952/11, "Japanese Men of Culture: Educator Inazo Nitobe," by Passmore Elkinton in Japan and Stamps.
  34. 1952/12/20, "Inazo Nitobe" by Katherine Seeler in Friends Intelligencer.
  35. 1952/12/20, "A Quaker Scholar - Letter from the Past - 132": article by Now and Then (Henry J. Cadbury) in same issue, p.731.
  36. 1958/12/20, "Dr. Inazo Nitobe" by Gilbert Bowles, in Friends Journal
  37. 1962/2/5, "Nitobe Memorandum" written by J. Passmore Elkinton, re: I. Nitobe's family crest
  38. 1982, Main Line Times [Article concerning the Morris Home]
  39. 1983/10/7, "Inazo and Mary Elkinton Nitobe: Roots, Romance, and Recollections," a lecture delivered by, David Elkinton at Asian Center, University of British Columbia
  40. 1984, "Inazo and his Roots," (draft) by John F. Howe prepared for Nitobe-Ohiro Conference, University of British Columbia
  41. 1984, Friends Journal [Nitobe Portrait/Bank note]
  42. 1984/5/24, "Nitobe, League of Nations, and the Geneva Spirit" by Thomas Burkman
  43. 1984, Letter from the President of Johns Hopkins University concerning the planting of a memorial dogwood in Japan for Inazo Nitobe
  44. 1986/8/17, Program to Japanese Christian Church of Philadelphia, announcing a presentation of "Bridge across the Pacific."
  45. 1988, Friends World News. "Bridge across the Pacific."
  46. 2001, Interview of David C. Elkinton with Mr. Katamaya concerning Nitobe. (in Japanese)
  47. 2005, Proceedings of the Japan Studies Association of Canada Conference, 2004. "Rethinking Nitobe's Bushido: Text and Context," by Tadanubu Suzuki
  48. undated, "A Tribute to the Late Dr. Inazo Nitobe" by Yasaka Takagi (microfilmed)
  49. undated, "The Foundations of Dr. Inazo Nitobe's Character" by Gilbert Bowles (microfilmed)
  50. undated, "'As I Remember It': Stories about Dr. Inazo Nitobe," by Gurney Binford. (microfilmed)
  51. undated, [An Account of the Marriage of Inazo Nitobe and Mary Elkinton.] author unknown (microfilmed)
  52. undated, "Dr. Inazo Nitobe" by Tamon Mayeda. From his "Sanso Seishi"--Quiet Thoughts in a Mountain Villa.
  53. undated, [An Account of J.P. Elkinton's visit to Japan.]
  54. undated, "Memo" [regarding the educational philosophy of Inazo Nitobe.] by Tamon Mayeda.
  55. undated, "The Nitobe Memorial Lectureship." (microfilmed)
  56. undated, "His Special Characteristics as an Educator" by Tatsuo Morito, an excerpt from "Dr. Nitobe as an Educator" in Recollections of Dr. Nitobe.
  57. undated, "Recollections of Mrs. Inazo Nitobe" by Kate Goodman Inazawa (microfilmed)
  58. undated, "Dr. and Mrs. Nitobe."
  59. undated, [Dr. Nitobe's Contributions to the League of Nations]. Extracted from Nippon Times.

Scope and Contents

Correspondence and related papers. 20 original manuscripts on fragile paper, all photocopied. Microfilm also available.

Inazo Nitobe, correspondence sent, 1890-1926.
Box 2
Scope and Contents

Includes: Sarah W. Elkinton, 1890 2mo 21; Beulah M. Rhoads, 1891 1mo 4; Joseph Elkinton, 1891 4mo 23; Joseph Elkinton (with typed copy), 1891 8mo 22; Joseph Elkinton (typed copy), 1892 4mo 21; Joseph Scotton Elkinton, 1892 9mo 14; Joseph Elkinton, 1893 2mo 19; Joseph Elkinton, 1894 11mo 23; Joseph Elkinton, 1895 3mo 22; Joseph Elkinton, 1895 7mo 4; Ragged School Account (Also includes a District Nurse Account), 1895 12mo 31; Joseph Elkinton, 1896 1mo; "Extracted from a letter written by Inazo Nitobe to his wife", 1896 8mo ; Joseph Scotton Elkinton, 1899 2mo 15; Elizabeth C. Dunn , 1900 1mo 30; Robert Hoag, 1904 8mo 11 ; Anna H. Chace (typed copy), 1919 8mo 12; J. Passmore Elkinton, 1922 6mo 2; Richard R.?] Wood, 1926 10mo 7

Photocopies of preceeding correspondence,, 1890-1926.
Scope and Contents

72 letters, mostly to her family and friends in America. Fragile originals: Have been photocopied and the photocopies integrated into other folders. Most also have been microfilmed

Letters sent, mostly to her family and friends in America, 1891-1892.
Box 2
Letters sent, 1893-1903.
Box 2
Letters sent, 1904-1905.
Box 2
Letters sent, 1922-1935 and n.d.
Box 2
Letters sent, 1891-1935.
Box 2
Letters received, 1904-1938 and n.d.
Box 2
Bound volume containing manuscript copies of letters sent, 1891-1892.
Box 2
Scope and Contents

Note: letters are on pp. 100-282, but pp. 13-89 are Sarah W. Passmore's lesson book for Geology and Art, Westtown School, 1878-1880.

Physical Description


Letters sent, 1950-1962.
Box 3
Letter to David Elkinton and correspondence Yoshio Katoko, 1973.
Box 3
Takeko Nitobe Katoh and Eilyn Katoh, correspondence, 1953-1991.
Box 3
Correspondence, 1904-1935.
Box 3
Physical Description


Correspondence, 1938-1949.
Box 3
Physical Description


Correspondence, 1954-1970 and n.d.
Box 3
Correspondence, 1982-1994 and n.d.
Box 4
Correspondence, 1983-1985.
Box 4
Correspondence, 1984-1987.
Box 4
Miscellaneous Correspondence, 1911-1951 n.d.
Box 4

Inazo Nitobe, Radio Addresses, 1932.
Box 4
Physical Description


Inazo Nitobe, miscellaneous.
Box 4
Mary Elkinton Nitobe, printed articles.
Box 4
Joseph Elkinton, Address Before the Westtown Old Scholars, 1906.
Box 3

Medal, Japanese Red Cross, 1888.
Box 4
Memorials to Inazo Nitobe.
Box 4
Physical Description


Description of Nitobe's Mt. Fugi painting, from Yoma Abiko, 1941.
Box 4
Stamp and first day issue, 1952.
Box 4
Scope and Contents

Commemorative stamp (10 yen); First Day Issue cover, issued October 16, 1952, 4"x6.5", showing portrait of Inazo Nitobe on the stamp and a photo of him at his desk on the cover. 20 mint stamps included in packet.

Title Pages Used in Microfilming Nitobe Material.
Box 4
"Bridge Across the Pacific," script for Japanese television documentary first broadcasted December 1983., 1983.
Box 4
Memorial Garden and Asian Centre, Vancouver, B.C., visited by David and Marian Elkinton, 1983.
Box 4
Bank note (5000 Yen) bearing Nitobe's portrait, 1984.
Box 4
Map of Tungchwan District.
Box 4
Postcards (7) and Iwate Prefecture scenes (6) and others (2).
Box 4
Brochures (3) in Japanese: Nitobe Museums, Marioka.
Box 4
Frederick Leman Whelen, calling card.
Box 4
Letter to William and Eleanor Elkinton from Hakodate, 3/2/1891.
Box 4
Photocopies of transfer correspondence of Montsuki (ceremonial robe with family crest) of Inazo Nitobe to Morioka Museum of Great Predecessors, Morioka, Japan.
Box 4
Scope and Contents

Includes 12 color slides of the robe. [2 color prints (1) of robe and (2) of J. Passmore Elkinton's letter of explanation are on display at the museum.]

Pictures of Inazo Nitobe and family.
Box 4
Photos, Takeko Nitobe and Eilyn Katoh, ca. 1953, 1987-88.
Box 4

Print, Suggest