John W. Dower (AC 1959) Papers
Scope and Contents
This is chiefly a collection of primary and secondary research materials compiled by John W. Dower in the course of several decades of teaching, research, writing and publication on the history of Japan, particularly with regard to World War II and its aftermath, popular media and racial representation. It includes articles, archival source material, correspondence, photographs, research notes, and draft manuscripts for several of Professor Dower's publications.
- Majority of material found within 1941-2010
- Dower, John W. (AC 1959) (Person)
Conditions Governing Access
There is no restriction on access to the Dower Papers for research use. Particularly fragile items are restricted for preservation purposes.
All requests for materials from this collection must be made at least 24 hours in advance.
Conditions Governing Use
Requests for permission to publish material from the Dower Papers should be directed to the Archives and Special Collections. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.
Biographical / Historical
John W. Dower is a noted American scholar on the history of Japan. He received a B.A. from Amherst College (American Studies, 1959), and the M.A. (1961) and Ph.D. (1972) from Harvard University (History and Far Eastern Languages). Born in 1938 in Providence, R.I., Dower has taught at the University of California, San Diego (1986-1991), the University of Wisconsin at Madison (1971-1985), and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1991-2010). He has received numerous prestigious awards for his writings, many of which are detailed below.
Books by Professor Dower include the following:
- The Elements of Japanese Design (1971)
- Origins of the Modern Japanese State: Selected Writings of E. H. Norman (1975)
- Empire and Aftermath: Yoshida Shigeru and the Japanese Experience, 1876-1945 (1979; an expansion of his Harvard doctoral dissertation)
- A Century of Japanese Photography (edited, 1980)
- The Hiroshima Murals: The Art of Iri Maruki and Toshi Maruki (co-edited, 1985)
- War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War (1986)
- Japan in War and Peace: Selected Essays (1994)
- Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II (1999) Cultures of War: Pearl Harbor/Hiroshima/9-11/Iraq (2010) Ways of Forgetting, Ways of Remembering: Japan in the Modern World (2012).
War Without Mercy won several prizes in the United States and Japan, including the National Book Critics Circle Award. Awards for Embracing Defeat include the Pulitzer Prize (for general nonfiction), National Book Award (for nonfiction), Bancroft Prize (for U.S. history), Fairbanks Prize (for history of Asia), Los Angeles Times Book Prize (in history), and two prestigious Japanese prizes for the documentary version of its work. Professor Dower also was executive producer of a documentary film Hellfire - A Journey from Hiroshima that was a finalist for an Academy Award in 1988.
In his curriculum vitae Professor Dower describes his scholarly interests this way: "His major publications draw on Japanese and English-language resources to examine Japan's emergence as a modern state in a turbulent global milieu. He is particularly known for his writings on the Pacific War, as well as on the dynamics of starting over in a shattered land in the first decade that followed Japan's defeat; and also for his use of visual images as a vibrant resource for enhancing our historical understanding of Asia in the modern world."
Professor Dower received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Amherst College in 2002.
69.5 Linear feet (1 record storage box, 1 oversize box)
Language of Materials
Chiefly a collection of primary and secondary research materials compiled by John W. Dower in the course of several decades of teaching, research, writing and publication on the history of Japan, particularly with regard to World War II and its aftermath, popular media and racial representation. It includes articles, archival source material, correspondence, photographs, research notes, and draft manuscripts for several of Professor Dower's publications.
This collection is organized into nine series:
- Series 1: Personal Affairs, circa 1963-2010, undated
- Series 2: Occupied Japan (Embracing Defeat), circa 1944-1991, undated
- Series 3: War Without Mercy, 1850-1999, undated
- Series 4: Cold War in Asia, 1941-2007, undated, bulk: 1941-1984
- Series 5: War Films, 1853-1992, undated
- Series 6: Miscellaneous Publishing Projects, 1852-2011
- Series 7: Author and Subject Files on Japanese History, 1905-2006, bulk: 1965-2006
- Series 8: Teaching Sourcebooks and Primary Sources, 1868-2007, undated
- Series 9: Research Materials on Special Topics, 1868-1999, undated
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift of John W. Dower, 2014.
Processed in 2014-2015 by Peter A. Nelson, with assistance from Noah Gordon (AC 2014), Catherine Morse (AC 2014), James O'Connor (AC 2017), and An Hoang (AC 2018), Student Assistants.
Grateful acknowledgment is given to the Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations for partial funding of the project.
Together with the papers, Professor Dower donated a large collection of books and videos on Japanese history, culture, and cinema. These will be catalogued and added to the main collection of the Amherst College Library or to Archives and Special Collections. In addition, his gift also included 37 boxes of books and files comprising the bulk of the research library for a program and website at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2002-2014) called "Visualizing Cultures," focusing on Japan and China in the modern world.
- Peter A. Nelson
- Language of description
- Script of description