The Washington D.C. area is an optimal place to study the Occupation of Japan. The University of Maryland, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), and the Library of Congress have complementary collections that, as a whole, provide an unparalleled window on the immediate post-World War II years in Japan. Throughout the United States, however, universities and colleges are now making available significant collections related to the Occupation, especially image collections. We are highlighting five such collections here. They are freely accessible from anywhere in the world. No travel required!
The Pacific War Postcards Collection contains 36 postcards sent from Japanese civilians to surrendered Japanese soldiers in the Philippine Islands, Sumatra, and the South Seas. The postcards were censored by the Civil Censorship Detachment (CCD). Identifiable postmarks range from August 19, 1945 to March 10, 1946.
The Gerald & Rella Warner Japan Slides includes 567 color slides from the personal collection of U.S. State Department official Gerald Warner and his wife Rella Warner. The majority of the slides were produced between 1947 and 1951, during the Allied Occupation, and were taken in various locations across Japan. Many depict the lives of ordinary Japanese, such as cherry blossom viewing on the bank of a river, a May Day demonstration, or a doll maker’s workshop. Portraits of political and military figures, such as Douglas MacArthur and Yoshiga Shigeru, are also included.
John W. Bennett was an anthropologist who worked in the Public Opinion and Sociological Research Division (PO&SR) of the Civil Information and Education Section (CIE) of SCAP between 1948 and 1951. In 1949, he became Chief of the PO&SR. PO&SR’s mission was to plan, execute, and evaluate studies leading to social reform. Studies of agricultural land reform, prostitution, local political development, and family structure, among other things, were completed. Bennett’s son, John M. Bennett, curated the digital collection, “Doing Photography and Social Research in the Allied Occupation of Japan, 1948-1951: A Personal and Professional Memoir”, which documents his father’s experiences in Allied Occupied Japan.
Oliver L. Austin, Jr. was Head of the Wildlife Branch of the Fisheries Division in the Natural Resources Section (NRS) of SCAP from 1946 to 1949. The Oliver L. Austin Images consists of almost 1,000 color slides of postwar Japan under reconstruction. Highlights include American expatriate life, ordinary Japanese families in Tokyo and in the countryside, and Japanese veterans purveying street entertainments.
Lt. Col. Walter A. Pennino (1915-1998) joined the Occupation Forces in Japan as a press attaché to General MacArthur. In addition to his military duties, Pennino published articles in the Boston Daily Globe on such topics as women, marriage, and shopping in Japan. In 1948, as News Chief for MacArthur, he wrote the eyewitness accounts of Tōjō Hideki’s execution. The eighty photographs in this collection were taken by Pennino in the late 1940s (exact dates are unknown). They are divided into ten subject areas: Children, Ceremonies & Festivals, Daily Life, On the Street, Entertainment, Buildings, Women in Kimono, Women at Work, Men at Work, and Repatriated Soldiers.