This post is the eleventh in a series featuring interviews from the Marlene J. Mayo Oral Histories. Currently, 29 of the oral history transcripts are available online. The remainder are available onsite in the Maryland Room, the reading room for Special Collections and University Archives at the University of Maryland. For other featured oral histories, see this page.
Today is Earl Miner’s birthday! Marlene Mayo interviewed Professor Earl Miner, a scholar of Japanese and early modern English literature, on August 19, 1980. She was particularly interested in his experiences in the Japanese-language program at the University of Minnesota and his assignment to Allied Occupied Japan.
Born in Marshfield, Wisconsin on February 21, 1927, Miner graduated from high school at 17 and signed up for the Army Specialized Training Program. In 1944, he attended a Japanese-language program at the University of Minnesota, whose chief purpose was to train participants as interpreters. He was sent to Japan in March 1946 as an interpreter, Private First Class. Based in Shikoku and then Kyushu, he was a part of a team that traveled to towns and villages to collect information on population, food and water supplies, fuel and clothing, general conditions or problems, and the attitude toward the Occupation Forces. He was discharged from the Army and worked as a civilian in the military government headquarters in the Economic Section in Nagoya (November 1946 – November 1947). In that capacity, he was primarily responsible for taking inventory of machinery in factories and ensuring that land reform was being carried out. He recalls having informal conversations with Japanese about mandated changes to the educational system by GHQ/SCAP and about democracy in general.
Miner held positions in the English Departments of Williams College (1953–1955) and UCLA (1955–1972), and Princeton (1972-2000).