Dissertation Research Assistance

Emily Seger's picture

Hi all,

My name is Emily Seger. I am a PhD candidate in the History Dept at the University at Buffalo. I am in the process of doing research for my dissertation tentatively titled “An Empire of (Dis)Order: Training Schools, Transnational Exchange and the Making of American Intellectual Disability.” My project looks at the importance of an organization called the Association of Medical Officers of American Institutions for Idiotic and Feeble-minded Persons (AMO) in both crafting a medicalized understanding of children’s intellectual disabilities in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. From its inception, the AMO hinged on participation from a diverse range of social authorities from places like Scandinavia, England, France, Germany, and Canada, and Japan.

As such, I’m hoping that someone on this network may be willing to help me sort through some information/point me in the right direction concerning some research questions I have about my chapter related to the US and Japan. There seems to be a contingency of Japanese educators and missionaries working at various schools for children with intellectual disabilities in Pennsylvania at the turn of the century. For example, Kanzō Uchimura spent several months working at the Pennsylvania Training School for Feebleminded Children.

I have come across a reference to “Mr. T. Kawada” a Japanese educator working at the Polk State School (training school in western PA) in 1916. This is referenced under the History section on the PA Department of Human Services website (https://www.dhs.pa.gov/Services/Disabilities-Aging/Pages/Polk.aspx).  The site goes on to say that “Based on what Mr. Kawada learned, he returned to Japan and designed a home and training school for those with intellectual disabilities. In 2004, a group of professors from Japan's University of Tsukuba returned to trace Mr. Kawada's experience and update themselves on the progress of Polk Center through the years. They left impressed and published their experiences in a Japanese textbook.” However, I have not been able to figure out anything else about Kawada (even a full name) or the aforementioned training school.

Any information, help, or book/article recommendations related to Kawada or the training schools in Japan would be greatly appreciated. I’m also happy to chat via email (emseger@buffalo.edu). Thanks, H-Japan!

Could it be Kawada Teijirô 川田貞治郎 (1879-1959)? In June 1919, Kawada founded the Fujikura gakuen 藤倉学園 as "Home & School for Mentally Retarded", which still exists today. Unfortunately, certain publications about him in the National Diet Library Digital Collections are not accessible, at least not from Germany, but he has apparently earned great merits in the educational work with the mentally handicapped.

Fujikura gakuen: http://www.fujikuragakuen.or.jp/