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A new database for the Special Collections and University Archives

The Special Collections and University Archives has launched a new database for our archival and manuscript collections.

You can search materials with keywords, request items to view in our reading room (Maryland Room), and even submit a duplication order directly from the database.   A majority of Prange Collection’s gift collections are available in the database.

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Prange Staff Pick from the Exhibition – Bassin Photographs

The Prange Collection exhibit, “Crossing the Divide: An American Dream Made in Occupied Japan, 1945-1952,” will be on display in the Maryland Room Gallery, Hornbake Library North, University of Maryland, through July 2019.  In our series, “Prange Staff Picks from the Exhibition,” we will share with you our personal favorites from the exhibit. 

The Prange Collection exhibition team chose a photograph from a Julius Bassin family photo album (included in the gift collection, the Julius Bassin photographs) as our main poster image for the exhibition. The image of N. Jay Bassin, the younger son of Julius Bassin, held by his nanny Shizuko, can be seen on the photo album page at left.

These family photographs were taken during the Occupation period, when the memory of years of devastating war must have still been fresh for both Shizuko and the Bassins.  The photographs, however, do not reveal even a hint of mixed feelings toward each other; rather, one can even see a strong trust between the photographer (most likely Julius Bassin) and Shizuko.  Think about it — just a few years earlier, their nations were mortal enemies!  In addition, Jay’s smile in all of the photographs with Shizuko indicates that, to him, she was truly a member of the family.  Between nations, the divide between victor and vanquished may have been clear, but on a personal level, people were already forging friendships and moving forward together.

This exhibition focuses on a variety of interactions and relationships between Americans and Japanese in Occupied Japan.  The photograph of Jay and Shizuko was a great starting point for me, as I immersed myself in the exhibit preparation.  The Bassin photographs are available in the University of Maryland Libraries Digital Collections.

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Kana Jenkins, Coordinator of the Prange Collection

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Featured Exhibit Item of the Month [February]

The Prange Collection exhibit, “Crossing the Divide: An American Dream Made in Occupied Japan, 1945-1952,” will be on display in the Maryland Room Gallery, Hornbake Library North, University of Maryland, from October 2018 through July 2019.  Each month, we will feature one or two items from the exhibit.  For other Featured Exhibit Items of the Month, please visit here

Our fifth Featured Exhibit Item of the Month is a newsletter published by the Ernie Pyle Theatre staff members.  The Prange Collection holds five issues of “Ernie Pyle Theatre” (September 1948 – May 1949).  Though off limits to Japanese as patrons, several hundred Japanese were employed at the Ernie Pyle Theatre as performers, artists, typists, boilermen, and elevator operators.  The circulation ranged from 400 to 500 copies, presumably enough for all Japanese employees of the theatre. The newsletter included personal announcements (births, deaths, weddings), essays, short explanations of GI slang, movie reviews, and Haiku.

You can read the full-text article of its October 10, 1948 issue in the online exhibit.

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Featured Exhibit Item of the Month [January]

The Prange Collection exhibit, “Crossing the Divide: An American Dream Made in Occupied Japan, 1945-1952,” will be on display in the Maryland Room Gallery, Hornbake Library North, University of Maryland, through July 2019.  Each month, we will feature one or two items from the exhibit.  For other Featured Exhibit Items of the Month, please visit here

Our fourth Featured Exhibit Item of the Month is the article entitled, “Visiting Women’s Vocational Schools,” published in the December 1947 issue of Josei Raifu [Women Life].

The article included photographs of several vocational schools for women, such as schools for typists, Western garment designers, nutritionists, hairstylists, and housemaids.

The description of the school for housemaids stated,

  • “Because Japanese maids work hard, the Americans may start to look at the Japanese people more positively.”
  • One of the teachers at the school, said, “I want them [the maids] to start Japanese diplomacy at the household level.”
  • “The maids have a great opportunity to learn about American life first-hand. From that experience, I’m sure that they can learn how to be good Japanese housewives in the future.”

You can read other magazine articles related to Japanese housemaids in our online exhibit of “Crossing the Divide“.

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“Celebrating the New Year – Japanese Style!” – An Exhibit in the Maryland Room

The Prange Collection currently offers a mini exhibit, “Celebrating the New Year – Japanese Style!” in our reading room (Maryland Room) on the first floor of Hornbake Library North.  We are featuring Takoage, Hanetsuki, Fukuwarai, and Sugoroku.  The Maryland Room is open to public.

Displayed items are:

  • Kurosaki, Y., & Miyashita M. (1946). Dobutsu no oshogatsu [Animal’s New Year]. Tokyo: Myogi Shuppansha.
  • Kaneso, M. (1946). Oshogatsu [New Year’s Day]. Osaka: Miharu Shobo.
  • Tako wa nishi ni agaru daroka, higashi ni agaru daroka? [Would a Kite Flies to the West or East?] (1948). Kodomo Kagaku Kyoshitsu [The School Room of Science], 2(1), 4-5.
  • Prince Yoshi joins the crowds: A kite festival in Hibiya [Photograph]. (1948). Tokyo: Kyodo Tsushin [Kyodo News Agency].
  • Manga sugoroku Nihon no Shiki No. 2 [Illustrated Board Game: Seasons in Japan, No. 2]. Tokyo: Kodomo Manga Shimbunsha, 1946. Board Game.
  • Tanoshii oshogatsu [Fun New Year’s Day] (1949). Yochien [Kindergarten]. Tokyo: Shogakukan, 1(1), 1-2.
  • Kita no kodomo [Kids from the North] (1948). Sapporo: Shin Nihon Bunka Kyokai, 3(1).
  • Tamako-chan no fukuwarai [Tamako’s fukuwarai] (1949). Bokura no yochien [Our Kindergarten]. Tokyo: Mori no kodomosha, 3(1).

Check out the slideshow below!

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Preservation: Re-boxing

In order to be safely shelved, some of our books are stored in pre-made boxes after they are un-stapled for scanning.  When the boxed books are returned from the digitization vendor, the pages of the books are slightly askew.  A Prange staff member carefully realigns the pages and puts the books back in the boxes.  See the slideshow below for that process.

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Prange Staff Pick from the Exhibition – Blondie

The Prange Collection exhibit, “Crossing the Divide: An American Dream Made in Occupied Japan, 1945-1952,” will be on display in the Maryland Room Gallery, Hornbake Library North, University of Maryland, through July 2019.  In the series “Prange Staff Pick from the Exhibition,” a member of the Prange Collection exhibit team will share with you their favorite item from the exhibit. 

The comic strip, Blondie, first published in 1930, depicts the everyday life of Blondie and Dagwood Bumstead, their children, pets, and neighbors in suburban Joplin, Missouri.  The strip was popular in the United States, but also found a following in Japan, where it was serialized in a Japanese weekly magazine, Shūkan Asahi, beginning in 1946.  It was picked up by Asahi Shimbun, one of Japan’s major daily newspapers, in January 1949. Blondie is one of several examples in the exhibit of the Japanese fascination with American everyday life.

In the essay, American Life and Japanese Life,” Dr. Shiho Sakanishi, who had been a librarian at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. before her repatriation to Japan in June 1942, analyzed the Japanese response to Blondie, based on her experience living in the U.S. The Japanese, she thought, idealized the daily life portrayed in Blondie because of the material prosperity portrayed there. She wrote, “Blondie, who has a family of four with three dogs and no maid, must always be tired. But she has a radio, refrigerator, heater, phone, stove, coffee maker, toaster, electric clothes washer, and vacuum cleaner [which makes her life so much easier]. . . . They also have access to hot water 24 hours a day. They live like millionaires from our [Japanese] perspective.”

The Prange Collection has two volumes of collected Blondie comic strips, as seen below, as well as many of the strips in Shūkan Asahi and Asahi Shimbun.

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Amy Wasserstrom, Manager of the Prange Collection