Science for God’s Sake


Science for God’s Sake: Three Archival Reviews

Salvation Army Research Room (救世軍研究室), Tokyo, Japan [website] – Archives of the Episcopal Church, Austin, Texas, United States [website] – Salvation Army National Archives and Research Center, Alexandria, Virginia, United States [Library of Congress listing]

For my dissertation, The Exponent of Breath: The Role of Foreign Evangelists in Combating Japan’s Tuberculosis Epidemic in the Early Twentieth Century (University of California, Berkeley 2011), I had the pleasure of pursuing research at the far-flung archives of a number of different evangelical organizations, including The Salvation Army Research Room (Kyūseigun kenkyūshitsu 救世軍研究室) in Tokyo, The Salvation Army National Archives and Research Center in Alexandria, Virginia, and the Archives of the Episcopal Church in Austin, Texas. Racking up research materials and frequent-flyer miles from 2008 to 2010, it is my pleasure to introduce the Dissertation Reviews community to these three fine institutions.

Ed. Note: See also Ruselle Meade’s review of Elisheva Perelman’s dissertation.

My first stop, during a research trip in March 2008 was to The Salvation Army Research Room next to the Booth Memorial Hospital in Suginamiku, Tokyo, to learn about The Army’s work at that same institution against tuberculosis.

It is not a mistranslation to call the archives a “research room”, as the entire collection filled the back of a room in The Salvation Army Men’s Social Service Center (救世軍男子社会奉仕センター) that seemed to serve primarily as a gathering place for a handful of elderly officers of The Army to meet and kibitz daily. As I had contacted the Officers a month or so prior to my arrival, the presentation of my affiliation letters was little more than a formality after the electronic correspondence and that they suddenly were interacting with a foreign female may have struck them as odd, but they were wholly welcoming and interested in my work, although not to the extent that it was a struggle to complete it. I visited, the hours during which I was permitted to work were weekdays (excluding Wednesday), 9am-4pm, and Saturdays, although Saturday work was often difficult due to the number of boisterous visitors to the bazaar that The Army held weekly from 9am-2pm.

The archives consist primarily of bookcases of back issues of The Salvation Army’s Japanese edition of its official fortnightly publication, The War Cry, here published as 鴇の声 Toki no koe. These works are not digitized, nor is there an index for them, so research can become tedious. However, to ease the monotony, the other gentlemen will offer guest researchers the occasional snack with tea. I even managed to score an invitation to a homemade lunch in an officer’s home one Saturday.

A copy machine is available, and researchers are expected to make their own copies. Though the system for pricing copies was rather haphazard, one can expect to pay around 10 yen a page. Only cash is accepted. There are no restrictions on bringing in your own digital camera. I would urge you, however, to consider using the facility’s copy machine rather than a digital camera, if that option is available. Not only is the quality of the print better, but the research room is clearly not high on the expenditures budget, and researchers, few and far between though we may be, can help inform The Army of the room’s utility.

These archives are a leisurely ten minute walk from the nearest train station, Nakano-Fujimicho中野富士見町 (which does, in fact, occasionally offer views of Mt. Fuji, as promised) on the Eidan Marunouchi line丸ノ内線. As mentioned, the building is next to Booth Memorial Hospital and within a virtual compound of Army building. Address: 2-21-2 Wada, Suginamiku, Tokyo 東京都杉並区和田2-21-2.

Upon returning stateside, I spent a week in Austin, Texas in October 2009 at the Archives of the Episcopal Church nestled in a lovely neighborhood home to the Seminary of the Southwest. The Archives of the Episcopal Church are home to a repository of sources that deal with Dr. Rudolf Bolling Teusler (1876-1934) and his work at St. Luke’s International Hospital. As per the request on their website, I scheduled my appointment three weeks ahead of my visit, and found the archive to be a significant repository of the Church’s proselytizing work in Japan. The archivists with whom I interacted were extremely solicitous and, though I was not offered snacks at teatime (!), did their utmost to ensure that I had more than enough documents to merit my trip. Seated in the next room, an archivist was always available to answer questions or provide the next series of documents in a timely manner, but were far enough away that neither I disturbed them or vice versa.

The Archives of the Episcopal Church are open to researchers by appointment Monday through Thursday from 9am to 4:45pm, with a $25.00 weekly fee for reading room usage. Reproduction services are available for a variety of source types, including photograph, audio, and moving image reproduction. As was the case in every American archive I visited, only pencil, paper and computer were permissible in the research room, and food (Japanese or otherwise) was most certainly frowned upon. Due to the location of the archive in a residential neighborhood, I found it best to pack my own lunches and snacks. It was not best, however, to reproduce my own documents, as no photocopiers are present. Document reproduction can be scanned or photocopied, and costs fifty cents per page, plus a $20 processing fee, which can be paid by cash, check, money order or PayPal.

The Archives of the Episcopal Church are located at 606 Rathervue Place, P.O. Box 2247,
Austin TX 78768. They can be reached at +1 (512) 472 6816 or

My last stop on this trip was Alexandria, Virginia, in June 2010 for more information on The Salvation Army’s attempts to combat tuberculosis in Japan. The Salvation Army National Archives and Research Center were just far enough from the old town (and even further from the Metro) to merit the need for my own transportation. Although presumably not as large as the international headquarters in London, the archives are located in the expansive American headquarters, meaning that my affiliation letters and copies of my prior correspondence with the Archives’ Director were extremely helpful each day I arrived at the front desk of the complex. As I am neither an Officer nor a Soldier of The Army, and was a visitor to the organization, I was required to be accompanied each morning to the small, extremely quiet reading room, where I found the documents I had requested awaiting my arrival.

Though I think there are some sort of dining or vending facilities on the premises, I did not see them, and again, both due to the check-in process and to the location of the headquarters, which comprised its own section in a corporate park, any food I required had to be brought with me, and could not be consumed of course in the research room. Although I was unsure of the location of the Director’s office in relation to the research room, I never had to wait for materials or found myself idling, awaiting her return. Neither intrusive nor absent the staff permitted me the opportunity to be alone with my work, marking the perfect sort of interaction.

Open every weekday 9am-4pm, the collections at the Archives included extensive document holdings, comprising manuscripts, monographs, and periodicals including every issue of The War Cry. When I visited, digitization did not appear to be a priority, but the archivist is extremely helpful in obtaining works, including those still unprocessed. Photocopying was prompt, however, and was provided by the staff, at a quarter a page, and was paid upon receipt, by either cash or check.

The Archives are located at: National Archives and Research Center, 615 Slaters Lane, P.O. Box 269, Alexandria VA 22313. They are contactable at +1 (703) 684 5529 or

All three archives proved exceedingly valuable to my study of not only Japan’s religious history, but its medical history as well. I would invite you, as I strongly believe the staff at each of these institutions would, to consider visiting them where useful.

Elisheva A. Perelman
History Department
Millikin University

Image: “Shakai-nabe(Christmas kettle) in 1930s”, Japanese magazine “Historical Photograph, January 1934 issue” published by Rekishi-Shasin Kai, Wikimedia Commons.

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