William P. Woodard papers , 1869-1974

Overview of the Collection

Woodard, William P. (William Parsons), 1896-1973
William P. Woodard papers
1869-1974 (inclusive)
61.5 linear feet, (125 containers, 105 volumes)
Collection Number
Coll 153
William P. Woodard (1896-1973) was a scholar of Japanese religion, and served as an advisor on religion and cultural resources during the allied command after World War II. His research and study of Japanese religions resulted in his book The Allied Occupation of Japan and Japanese Religions (1972). The collection contains correspondence, literary manuscripts, Allied Occupation documents, research files, mission records, films, and audiotapes.
University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives
UO Libraries--SCUA
1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR
Telephone: 5413463068
Access Restrictions

Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time. Collection includes sound recordings, moving images, and digital files to which access is restricted. Access to these materials is governed by repository policy and may require the production of listening or viewing copies. Researchers requiring access must notify Special Collections and University Archives in advance and pay fees for reproduction services as necessary.

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Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Historical NoteReturn to Top

William Parsons Woodard was born September 10, 1896, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He attended public schools in Kalamazoo and graduated from Kalamazoo College with a history degree in 1918. After a short period of military service as a sergeant during World War I, Woodard continued his education at Union Theological Seminary, graduating in 1921.

In the same year, Woodard with his wife Harriet Mead Woodard, went to Japan as a missionary of the American board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (Congregational Christian Churches). After three years of language school, he worked six years in Sapporo, followed by five years in Keijo (Seoul, Korea), and in 1935, once again in Japan. During this latter period, he served as secretary in the headquarters of the Kumiai Christian Church. In September, 1941, as a result of worsening political conditions preceding World War II, he returned to the United States.

From 1942 to 1947, Woodard served in the U.S. Navy as an intelligence officer, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Commander. He returned to Japan in October, 1945, with the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey. In 1946, he accepted appointments as Chief of the Religious Research Branch, Special Projects Officer, and Advisor in Religions and Cultural Resources within the Religions and Cultural Resources Division, Civil Information and Education Section of the allied command. In this capacity, he worked closely with Japanese religious leaders on issues related to military shrines and state religion, and assisted in the development of the Religious Juridical Persons Law. After 1947, Woodard retained these positions as a civilian employee until the end of the occupation in 1952.

After a year in the United States, Woodard once again returned to Japan and founded the International Institute for the Study of Religions, which assisted scholars of all nationalities in the study of religions in Japan. Woodard served as director of the Institute and editor of its English language journal, Contemporary Religions in Japan, until 1966. He also wrote articles on religion for the Japan Times from 1962 to 1966, and contributed regularly to other newspapers and journals.

His first wife died I 1956. Woodard later married Margaret Cuddeback, a missionary and Y.W.C.A secretary when he met her. In 1961, he received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Kalamazoo College. After returning to the United States, Woodard lectured at Claremont Graduate School from 1966 to 1972. During this time he also continued to research and write about the religious policies during the occupation of Japan. This study culminated I the publication of his book, The Allied Occupation of Japan and Japanese Religions, in 1972.

Woodard died February 20, 1973, in Pomona, California at the age of 76.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The William P. Woodard Papers contain correspondence, manuscripts, allied occupation documents, research files, mission records, copies of his published writings, personal materials, films, and audiotapes.

The correspondence is arranged chronologically from 1916-1974. A large portion of the correspondence is to and from family and friends, including a few items received by his family after Woodard's death. The letters contain information of interest to historians, such as the 1923 Kanto earthquake and pre-World War II conditions.

Some correspondence relating to Woodard's research on religion during the allied occupation is present. Correspondence with John Foster Dulles (February 6, 1951), Douglas MacArthur (October 12, 1962), Edwin O. Reishchauer (September 25, 1964; December 28, 1964l and March 25, 1968), and John D. Rockefeller (October 22, 1951; November 5, 1951; May 21, 1952; and July 7, 1955) is in the collection.

The literary manuscripts have been divided into those of book length, article length, and works by others. The book length manuscripts include drafts ad related material to Woodard's The Allied Occupation of Japan and Japanese Religions as well as his dissertation. The article length manuscripts include not only articles but also book reviews, sermons, prayers, and speeches. Also included in this section are Woodard's diaries which range tin date from 1921 to 1961. These manuscripts reflect Woodard's interest in religions in Japan including Shinto, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, and the new religions and sects which proliferated after World War II. Woodard's concern with religious freedom and tolerance appears in the manuscripts addressing the development of religious law in Japan.

The allied occupation documents section consists of bulletins, correspondence, memoranda, special reports, translations of press reports, religious policy, surveys of religion, and other items generated, primarily by Woodard's branch, during the occupation. These materials are separated into series. The series are arranged alphabetically, and material within each series is ordered chronologically. Many of the documents are drafts, but some are in final form. Of special interest are four boxes of material relating to the Yasukuni Shrine (the central state shrine for the veneration of the war dead) and a nearly complete set of Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers Instructions (SCAPINS).

The research files comprise the bulk of the collection. Materials are grouped by subject and arranged alphabetically. These files contain notes, information, and other research matter by and/or about individuals and subjects of interest to Woodard. Major subjects in this section are: Allied Occupation of Japan and Japanese Religions reference material; Buddhism, Christianity, education, emperor, new religions, new sects, religion in Japan, Religious Juridical Persons Law, and Shinto. Woodard focused his research on religion, but the section includes general social, cultural, and historical subjects.

The mission records contain correspondence and documents of the mission with which Woodard was associated, dating from 1869. The largest portion of this material is pre-World War II. It is an important source for researchers of the Christian missionary movement in Japan. The subjects remain grouped as they were received, arranged roughly chronologically with small subject files ordered alphabetically. Darley Downs figures prominently in these documents. His papers are also housed in Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries.

Woodard's published writing contained within the collection includes articles in journals, newspapers, and reports. Kodansha, a publishing firm, reproduced all the Japan Times articles by Woodard and these are in this section.

The personal materials include information and memorabilia of Woodard's family; military service; travel; and from schools, shrines, and temples. A collection of business and calling cards is included. A copy of the Imperial Rescript on the Declaration of War on the United States and Great Britain is also present.

Another section contains a series of thirty, 8 mm films on topics from firewalking, sumo wrestling, and traditional costume through religious places and rituals, including India and Thailand. These films are without audio and, with one exception, appear to have been made by non-professionals. The films are only identified by short notes on the containers.

Sixteen audiotapes of interviews with, and speeches by, prominent religious leaders in Japan are also with the papers. The tapes are mostly in English, but include some Japanese.

The collection includes 105 free-standing volumes. Woodard authored The Allied Occupation of Japan and Japanese Religions. He also edited and contributed to other volumes in the collection. Of special note, William K. Bunce's Religions in Japan: Buddhism, Shinto, Christianity is based on a report prepared during the occupation to which Woodard made important contributions. Other volumes in this section contain annotations by Woodard.

Photographs series include slides, prints, negatives, and picture post cards. A large portion of these photographs depict Shinto shrines, Buddhist temples, and paraphernalia. Other photographs show Christian churches, religious leaders, individuals, and Japanese scenery. Many of the photographs are not identified, although some can be identified by signs in the photographs.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Congregational churches--Japan
  • Japan--History--Allied occupation, 1945-1952
  • Japan--Religion--1945-
  • Japan--Social conditions--1912-1945
  • Missionaries--Japan
  • Missions--Japan
  • Religion and state--Japan
  • Religious law and legislation--Japan
  • Shinto

Personal Names

  • Downs, Darley
  • Dulles, John Foster, 1888-1959
  • MacArthur, Douglas, 1880-1964
  • Reischauer, Edwin O. (Edwin Oldfather), 1910-1990
  • Rockefeller, John D., III (John Davison), 1906-1978
  • Woodard, William P. (William Parsons), 1896-1973
  • Woodard, William P. (William Parsons), 1896-1973

Corporate Names

  • Japan. Shukyo hojinho, English

Form or Genre Terms

  • Motion pictures (visual works)
  • Photographs
  • Slides (photographs)
  • Sound recordings