Resource: Joseph Berry Keenan Digital Collection

Those researching or just interested in modern Japanese history will find much to explore in Harvard University’s Joseph Berry Keenan Digital Collection. A compilation of manuscript materials and photographs related to the Japanese War Crimes Trial, these works originate from Joseph B. Keenan, an American overseeing the International Prosecution Section (IPS) of the International Defense Panel and a part of SCAP.

The collection consists of two major sections, the Joseph Berry Keenan Papers, 1942-1947 and the Joseph Berry Keenan Visual Materials Collection, which can be accessed through Harvard’s HOLLIS image repository.

As described by the website, the papers section contains:

primarily of correspondence written during Keenan’s work as Chief Counsel in the International Prosecution Section. Most of the correspondence relates directly to the trial. There is a small subsection of letters between Keenan and colleagues from his Washington, D.C. law firm. Additional documents in the collection include: material relating to the court-martial of Major Walter V. Radovich; a three-page transcript of a 1946 interview with Madame Chiang-Kai-Shek; letters from Japanese and American citizens expressing their opinions on the war crime trials and the war itself; as well as some candid notes by Keenan on Japan and his work. The collection also includes newspaper clippings, photographs, business cards and notes.

In addition to the digitized images of these materials, there is also a separate finding aid section that summarizes and lists the materials within the archive, which may be of use for those searching for something specific or who just want to get a sense of the collection at a glance. The image collection consists largely of personal rather than official photographs, though they do include notable military figures, formal events, daily life and scenery, and post-1945 aerial shots of the Japanese landscape.

The collection is rich in content with a huge variety of personal and official materials that would be useful for research or use in the classroom. Be sure to take a look and see what there is to explore from this fascinating moment in history.

About Paula

Paula lives in the vortex of academic life. She studies medieval Japanese history.
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