Collections: The US Navy Japanese/Oriental Language School Archival Project (JSLP)
The Archives maintains The US Navy Japanese/Oriental Language School Archival Project, preserving the legacy of the US Navy Japanese/Oriental Language School, located at CU Boulder from 1942-1946.
In April, 2000, the Archives launched a third attempt to gather the papers, correspondence, photographs, and records of graduates of the US Navy Japanese / Oriental Language School, University of Colorado at Boulder, 1942-1946. We assembled these papers in recognition of the contributions made by JLS/OLS graduates to the War effort in the Pacific, the successful occupation of Japan, and postwar diplomacy, intelligence, reconciliation, and academia regarding Asia and the Pacific. Of certain historical interest are the activities of graduates in World War II code breaking, translation, interpretation, and intelligence. But the work of combat interpreters and interrogators has also attracted research attention. Those graduates who served in various capacities during the Occupation of Japan and during the attempts to gain surrender of the bypassed territories also had experiences fascinating to historians. Our new areas of interest are the post war roles played by graduates: in the teaching of Japanese and Asian languages, civilization and culture in higher education, in the US Foreign Service, in the intelligence community, and in grass roots efforts to establish sister cities, exchange programs, and reconciliation projects with Japan. In many instances, the graduates' war-time experiences had only tangential effects on their careers, but even those influences are interesting to scholars. These papers have been collected for use by scholars in Japanese history, World War II history, diplomacy and foreign affairs, and East Asian language and culture.
Captain Roger Pineau, USNR, began collecting information, and consulting with the Archives in the late 1970s, regarding the graduates of the school for the purpose of including their contribution to World War II naval history in the official record. In 1992, the Archives began to collect materials relating to the Japanese Language School, acquiring the papers of the Captain Roger Pineau and William Hudson. In addition, portions of the collections from Sidney DeVere Brown, Calvin Dunbar, Howard Boorman, Ross Ingersoll, Warren Johnston, Paul Sherman, Dean Towner, and Glenn Nelson were also acquired. The initial acquisitions were focused mainly on the Navy Japanese Language School and World War II.
In 2000, in response to research interest, we initiated a broad, intensive effort to document the US Navy Japanese Language School, located at the University of Colorado (1942-1946), the Chinese, Russian and Malay language programs that were added in 1944, and the careers and contributions of the sensei, instructors and the 1650 entrants to the language programs.
The Sensei, Attendees, and Graduates
In 2000, project students and staff located address lists in the Pineau and Hudson Collections and reconciled addresses on computer white-page listings, cold-telephoning the veterans and their families. During the first several years more than 390 USN JLS/OLSers or their families were located. Between 2004 and 2006, we made a concerted effort using web searches to find information or addresses for each of the 1650 attendees. Eventually, our mailing list included 680 JLS/OLSers, or their kin. Moreover, we were able to find information on all but a small minority.
The USN Japanese/Oriental Language School Archival Project has been promised, or has received 202 collections during the past twelve years, with a large number of potential collections pending. A total of 66 collections (32.6%) have received some processing. Of this total, 39 (19.3%) of the acquisitions, including the largest collections, have been fully processed. Four have preliminary inventories. Eight have surveys. Most of the collections received, range from a folder to 2 linear feet. Since more than 80% of the collections are, as yet incomplete, in transit, or only promised, they await full arrival for processing and have only received surveying or inventorying. Twenty of the thirty-nine processed collections have received cataloging on Chinook, the University of Colorado at Boulder Libraries online catalog, OCLC, or have had their finding aids placed on Rocky Mountain Online Archives (RMOA). The collections received reflect not only the USN JLS/OLS wartime experience, but also the graduates’ many academic, diplomatic, and intelligence careers. All of the collections are available for use by researchers.
John F. Magee
Assistance Provided to Other Facilities and Projects
The USN JLS/OLS Project has assisted many Navy and WWII archives and historical efforts. We helped the Pacific Basin Institute of Pomona College with grant funded USN JLS reunions and its video interview project, 2000-2005. We assisted HQCINPAC, US Navy, create a display on its WWI era Joint Intelligence Center Pacific Ocean Area in 2002. We shared information with the National Museum of the Pacific War & Nimitz Museum, of Fredericksburg, Texas, in 2004. In 2008, David Hays participated in the Japanese American National Museum National Convention in Denver as a panelist, discussing the USN JLS sensei. We provided history and images for a historical monograph developed by the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language School and Presidio of Monterey, California, in 2011. Various university alumni associations have been notified regarding the activities of their alumni/alumna who attended JLS/OLS. Throughout, we have encouraged museum, research and archival websites to create links to our project.
The USN JLS/OLS Archival Project was reinitiated as a result of research pressure in 2000. Since that time, several books have been written on US Military and Naval training in the Japanese language during World War II.
- The first is Irwin and Carole Slesnick, Kanji & Codes: Learning Japanese for World War II, 2nd Edition. The book takes an integrated approach, also discussing the Army's 6000 plus interpreters and enlisted military language efforts. It is available at the purchase price of $20.00, plus $2.50 shipping, add $1.00 shipping for each additional book, if ordering multiple copies. Checks can be made out to Irwin or Carole Slesnick, and orders sent to them at 500 N. State Street #201, Bellingham WA 98225.
- The second, more specifically about the University of Colorado USN JLS/OLS and its graduates, is Roger Dingman, Deciphering the Rising Sun: US Navy and Marine Corps Codebreakers, Translators, and Interpreters in the Pacific War, Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2009 [Item #: 9781591142119]. This book is available from the Naval Institute Press. You can order the book from their website. $25.95 is their non-member price (members pay a lower price). Or you can contact: USNI Customer Service: 800-233-8764 for instructions.
- Jessica Arntson published an article, “Journey to Boulder: The Japanese American Instructors at the Navy Japanese Language School, 1942-1946” in Enduring Legacies: Ethnic Histories and Cultures of Colorado, Arturo Aldama, et al, Eds., (Niwot, CO: University Press of Colorado, 2011).
- Gerald A. Meehl, One Marine's War: A Combat Interpreter's Quest for Humanity in the Pacific, (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, May 2012) is a WWII biography of Robert Sheeks, JLS 1943. You can check the US Naval Institute website for it, or contact: USNI Customer Service: 800-233-8764 for instructions.
Other scholars and authors have used the USN JLS/OLS materials to produce works on other topics.
- Professor Atsuhiko Wada formerly of Shinshu University, now of Waseda University, published The Japan-US Relationship Viewed from Book Circulation: Toward the Literacy History [in Japanese] (2007). In it, he finds that USN JLS/OLSers played a significant role in building Japanese language libraries in the US after the War.
Several works have been researched on the breaking of Japanese Naval codes:
- Donald A Davis, Lightning Strike: The Secret Mission to Kill Admiral Yamamoto and Avenge Pearl Harbor, New York: 2005;
- Elliot Carlson, Joe Rocheforts's War: The Odyssey of the Codebreaker who Outwitted Yamamoto at Midway, (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2011). They used the Pineau and Hudson Collections.
- Cameron Binkley, The Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center: A Pictorial History, (Presidio of Monterey: Command History Office, Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center, US Army, 2011), includes photographs and information on the US Navy Japanese Language School, 1910-1946, in their official pictorial history.
Televised documentaries have been created using USN JLS/OLS materials, including: Gayle Yamada’s Uncommon Courage: Patriotism & Civil Liberties (2003) on Nisei in the Army; the treatment of Japanese POWs at Camp Tracy; an Aloysius M. Soden biography; a Lennox Tierney biography; as well as other projects underway.
In June 2002, the Archives, with the Center for Asian Studies, hosted the 60th Anniversary Reunion of the USN Japanese Language School. From 2003 to 2007, the JLS/OLS Project has made use of several computer databases: The Master Biographical and Genealogical Index®, Google®, and MyFamilyPeopleFinder®. We used the former index to locate attendees and graduates from our entrants list in the various Gale Publications Who’s Who® and other biographical titles. Then using the latter data we located the addresses and telephone listings for JLS/OLSers (often because that database lists age and spouse name). This method of search has allowed us to increase the number of contacts from 450 to 6580 between 2003 and 2007. At the same time, we constructed a spreadsheet for all JLS/OLS entrants. The spreadsheet included name, date entered, home-town, vital status, whether included in the Pineau or JLS/OLS Collection individual files, on our mailing list, whether we have papers for the person, and which language program they attended. The spread-sheet assisted us in locating previously un-contacted entrants.
We created a composite guide to all JLS/OLS photographs, so that we, and researchers, can locate appropriate images more rapidly. In 2007, Arthur Dornheim contributed funds for a state of the art scanner, on which we began the digitizing of all USN JLS/OLS photographs and negatives, along with their metadata. We also sent out “photo-albums” of images to our mailing list, as a supplement to our newsletter. By 2011, most of the photographs of the Pineau and Hudson Collections had been scanned as well as those in other JLS/OLS collections, even the unprocessed collections with photographs are being scanned.
I have also contacted various university alumni associations to advise them of their JLS alumni, seeking to prod them into honoring them.
Over the past eleven years, we have conducted: a number of on-campus visiting lectures for several history classes; community talks on the project to our library friends group, the Arleigh Burke Branch of the Military Officers Association of America in Boulder; a panel talk at the 2008 Denver Convention of the Japanese American Museum; provided tours; and hosted authors who have spoken on books researched in our holdings.
The Cataloging Department of the University Libraries began cataloging our holdings on OCLC in 2005: on our Libraries catalog, Chinook, and finding aids on Rocky Mountain On-line Archives (RMOA). By 2011, they had cataloged the following collections: Roger Pineau, William Hudson, Frank Bauman, Vernon Chaffin, Arthur Dornheim, Gerald A. Hoeck, Charles T. Cross, Solomon and Elizabeth Levine, Marion Levy, Paul Boller, John D. Swanfeldt, J. Owen Zurhellen, Philip Bridgham, Calvin Dunbar, John M. Yomoto, Edgar Whan and Orville B. Lefko. They are still working on the collections of Headley M. Cox, Jr., Jessica N. Arntson [Sensei], Dean Towner, Philip Bridgham, Robert Thornton, and Lawrence Vincent, John D. Swanfeldt, Daniel D. Karasik Collection. Rocky Mountain On-line Archives (RMOA) allows researchers free access, around the world, to the finding aids to these collections.
We continue to work on three JLS bibliographic efforts: one on Japan/Asia/Pacific; one on biographical/autobiographical; and the other of individual bibliographies for the files.
In June 2000, the USN JLS/OLS Archival Project began a twice-monthly newsletter, entitled The Interpreter, to serve several purposes: to keep in touch with all the contacts and potential donors of materials (attendees, graduates, and sensei) that the project had gleaned from the Pineau and Hudson Collections; to answer all archival questions asked by the 250 early contacts; and to provide information as to our progress. Within the first year, we started including the memoirs, comments, and stories of the sensei, attendees and graduates, as well as spouses and children. Over time, the JLS/OLSers’ stories began to fill up the newsletter, pushing archival news and announcements aside. After 2003, the Archives began to restrict USN JLS/OLS Archival Project news to an annual “Status Report” issue, preferring to dedicate the remaining issues to the comments, stories, obituaries, and conversations of JLS/OLS veterans. In this way the newsletter became an informal “alumni newsletter” for the former instructors, veterans and their families. From 2004 through 2006, several hundred veterans and their families were added to the mailing list. By that time, it was clear that the newsletter had become the favorite aspect of the archival program for JLS/OLS veterans. Posted on the website, it had also become its own historical source for online researchers. In 2007 The Interpreter went from 1.5 pages twice a month to 4 pages once a month. 11 years after renewing the US Navy JLS/OLS Archival Project, we have maintained our contact with over 554 sensei, graduates, attendees and their kin.
All along, we had created completed issues far in advance, a backlog, as we found stories, information and obituaries to include in future issues. At the request of Lawrence Myers, JLS 1944, we placed our backlog of completed issues up on the website, not being able to create larger or more frequent issues of the newsletter. Our mailed project newsletter is now up to #168 (we use the “B” issue for status reports so as not to take up a regular issue on our project news), or 230 regular, reunion and status report issues mailed and 259 issues up on the website. We continue interweaving the stories, spacing particular writers, spreading out class groups, incorporating all language programs, including Sensei and WAVE stories, as well as adding wife and kin stories. In order to maintain the newsletter’s spirit, I still add in my own asides and editor’s notes [in italics] to provide commentary, further information, and addresses. Forrest “Woody” Pitts, OLS 1946, our volunteer proof-reader, continues to edit most of the newsletters prior to mailing. We appreciate his contribution.