ASCJ 2009
Session 29: Room 11-221

Early Twentieth Century Japanese Women's Schools as Sites of International Exchange

Organizer: Sally A. Hastings, Purdue University
Chair: Anne Walthall, University of California Irvine

Because women were largely excluded from the network of publicly funded universities that produced the civilian leadership of modern Japan, private institutions, some of them mission-sponsored, continued to attract bright and ambitious women in the early twentieth century. In several respects women’s schools were sites of international exchange. Native speakers of English from the United States and Canada served as teachers. Some schools facilitated opportunities for their graduates to study abroad. The facility in English that students acquired allowed them to serve as interpreters and translators and to produce what Mary Louise Pratt has termed “autoethnographies,” constructions of subordinate Japan for consumption in the cultural metropole. In this panel, three historians will examine three women’s schools as sites of international exchange: Tsuda, founded by Tsuda Umeko with American financial support; Kobe, originally founded by women supported by the Congregationalist American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Missions; and Tōyō Eiwa, a project of Canadian Methodists. The three papers will contribute not only to understanding of women’s education but also to recognition of how women have functioned as agents of international exchange across the divide of war.

1) Noriko Kawamura Ishii, Otsuma Women’s University
Kobe College Graduates as Students in the United States

Kobe College, which traces its origins back to the activities of American Congregationalist missionaries in 1875, aspired in the late nineteenth century to establish a collegiate department to train Japanese women educators. By the early twentieth century the school had graduated hundreds of Japanese women, a few of whom pursued further education in the United States. From 1922, Kobe maintained a sister college relationship with Rockford College in Illinois, the alma mater of one of the two founding missionaries, Julia Dudley. This paper will focus on the American education of some of the Kobe College graduates and the contributions that the women made to Japan. Some, such as Mibai Sugi and Takeda Kiyoko became academics or reformers in the public sphere. One case of particular interest is that of Makiko Hitotsuyanagi Vories, class of 1908. An adopted daughter of Tsuda Umeko’s friend Alice Bacon, Makiko attended the Preparatory Course for Bryn Mawr College and spent a year as a regular college student before dropping out because of illness. She subsequently married William M. Vories, the missionary-architect of Omi Mission. Makiko was dedicated to educational work, especially the pre-school education at Omi Brothers Academy.

2) Patricia G. Sippel, Toyo Eiwa University
Toyo Eiwa Girls’ School As a Site of International Exchange: The Experiences of Canadian Methodist

In the last days of 1882, Martha J. Cartmell arrived in Tokyo as the first overseas missionary of the newly founded Women’s Missionary Society (WMS) of the Methodist Church of Canada. Less than two years later, in September 1884, Cartmell had completed her initial mission of establishing a school for girls in Azabu, Tokyo. From its earliest years, Toyo Eiwa Girls’ School was an educational and even financial success, attracting enrolments from the daughters of Japan’s political and cultural elite while at the same time reaching out to poorer families. Through the early decades of the 20th Century, it gained attention for its modern facilities, for its progressive, Western-style curriculum, and for the international environment created and sustained by the Canadian missionary women who followed Martha Cartmell in supporting it.

    While much of Toyo Eiwa’s success can thus be attributed to its international character, for its foreign staff, the experience of international exchange was neither simple nor universally positive. Even among those who enjoyed long and productive careers as teachers and administrators, the personal and professional challenges were enormous. Many struggled to maintain their health and a sense of well-being. Some were embroiled in a near-disastrous conflict with male missionaries. A few experienced physical violence. There was even occasional disenchantment with the ideals that had brought them to Japan. This presentation will examine Toyo Eiwa Girls’ School as a site of international exchange, focusing on the complex experiences of the Canadian women missionaries who participated in its early development.

3) Sally A. Hastings, Purdue University
Learning from Travel: Tsuda Graduates in the United States, 1900–1941

The school that Tsuda Umeko founded in Tokyo in 1901 served not only as an institution for educating Japanese women in the English language but also as a space in which students encountered women from the United States and could observe their way of life. Alice Bacon, Anna Hartshorne, and Fanny Greene were just a few of the American teachers at Tsuda. Thanks to a strong network of international friendships, a select number of graduates of Tsuda traveled to the United States to study at women’s colleges such as Wellesley and Bryn Mawr. The American-educated students, in turn, became educators and writers, continuing to facilitate international exchange. This paper will examine the memoirs of Tsuda graduates such as Sumie Seo Mishima, Hoshino Ai, and Kamiya Mieko in order to explore how Tsuda prepared them for study abroad and facilitated their admission to American institutions, how study in America was financed, and how the time in the United States affected the students’ understanding of both international relations and personal relationships.

Discussant: Anne Walthall, University of California Irvine