The Ohio State University Libraries have been fortunate to receive various donations over the years. The Japanese Studies collection is no different, having recently received a unique donation from Dr. James Bartholomew, an Emeritus Professor of History and specialist of modern Japan. During his career, Professor Bartholomew conducted research in the History of Science, Medicine, Higher Education, and Japanese Business. His recent donation manifests the tremendous knowledge he garnered over the course of his career.
Related to Professor Bartholomew’s research, one of the most fascinating topics in modern Japanese history is the so-called “opening” of Japan (or kaikoku) in the mid-nineteenth century. In the final decades of the Tokugawa period (1603-1868), various foreign powers, including the United States, Great Britain, France, and Russia, were making overtures to Japan to open its borders to expanded trade and foreign diplomacy. Throughout much of the Tokugawa period, Japan had had very limited relations with a small number of foreign countries. In the 1850s, the question of whether to open Japan to Western trade was becoming increasingly pressing for two main reasons: Western powers were threatening military action to open Japan’s ports, and many Japanese were anxious to learn about Western military technologies.