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Archive for the ‘Doshisha Connections’ Category

Last week, Doshisha University President Koji Murata and Amherst College President Biddy Martin met to formally extend the already friendly relationship between the two schools that dates back to 1875.  (See photos of the signing ceremony.)  This recent event prompted me to look back at the origins of our relationship with Doshisha, and consequently at the founder of the University, Joseph Hardy Neesima.

Joseph Hardy Neesima

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We are delighted that so many people are using the Emily Dickinson manuscripts we made available through Amherst College Digital Collections. Over the past six months we have digitized other materials from the Archives and are pleased to announce that hundreds of new digital images have been uploaded and are now available to researchers the world over.

The development of Amherst College Digital Collections — ACDC for short — is a highly collaborative process. We work closely with the good folks in the Frost Library Digital Programs and Technical Services departments, and Amherst’s Information Technology to identify materials, image them, provide useful metadata, and get them uploaded to ACDC. The latest additions come from a wide range of collections in the Archives, including some great material from Dickinson’s contemporaries Edward and Orra White Hitchcock.

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Image

Otis Cary, 1989. Source: Otis Cary and His Broad Vision, 1921-2006

During World War II, whenever fellow Americans asked Otis Cary (AC 1943) where he came from, he felt pained to have to answer “Massachusetts.”  It was a half-truth.  Though the product of Deerfield Academy and Amherst College (the latter having also educated his father and grandfather before him), Otis Cary was born and raised in Japan.  He always considered it his home.  His family’s roots there, in fact, reach back to his grandfather Otis Cary (AC 1872), who arrived as a Christian missionary in 1878, a mere 24 years after the opening of that long-secluded country to foreigners.  The younger Cary thus developed absolute fluency in Japanese — not just linguistic, but cultural.  When he died in 2006, having served as a professor and Director of Amherst House at Doshisha University for 45 years (Amherst’s sister institution in Kyoto), he was widely considered one of the foremost American authorities on Japanese culture.

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Between July 19th and September 6th, 1936 an adventurous art collector named Lilla S. Perry traveled to Japan and kept a diary about her trip. At some later date she typed up portions of her diary and correspondence, entitled it “A Treasure Hunt in Japan, 1936” and included many photos and pamphlets. She may have intended to eventually publish her story, or perhaps only share it with family and friends, but the unpublished typescript is now in the collection here at Amherst College. It was donated to the college in 2002 by William Green¹, a fellow art collector who had been acquainted with Mrs. Perry’s son, E. Caswell Perry.

Lilla Perry was in her mid-50s at the time of her trip, lived in southern California and had become widowed a few years earlier. She was fascinated by the art form of Japanese woodblock prints known as ukiyo-e. Her son described her 1936 journey as a “print pilgrimage…visiting dealers and collectors and some museums, and finding many worthwhile prints, both old and new.”²

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