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Collection Overview

Orita, Hikoichi, 1849-1920
Hikoichi Orita Diary
Princeton University Archives
Permanent URL:
1 box
Storage Note:
  • Mudd Manuscript Library (scamudd): Box 1


This photocopied two-volume diary was written by Hikoichi Orita (1849-1920), a Japanese student, while he attended Princeton University between 1872 and 1876. Upon his graduation from Princeton, Orita returned to Japan and became a leading educational reformer. Orita made entries in English for each day of his time at Princeton, including accounts and bills paid, as well as memoranda written in Japanese. For the most part, the entries are brief, listing classes and recitations, visits to the chapel, letters from friends, the weather, and some personal notes such as visits with faculty and friends, illnesses and his loneliness. He also writes of travels to New York City, New Brunswick and New England.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The diary is photocopied in two volumes. The first volume dates from January 1, 1872 to December 31, 1873 and the second from January 1, 1874 to December 31, 1876. The handwritten entries are written in English, but the memoranda, which are placed at the end of each year, are written in Japanese. There are also listings of bills and accounts by month.

Generally, the entries are brief. Orita notes the weather for each day, classes and recitations, his studies, visits to chapel, letters received from friends, visits with faculty--including President and Mrs. McCosh--and occasional personal comments regarding his health or loneliness.

Orita occasionally took trips to New England, New York City and New Brunswick. In a typical entry describing a visit to New Brunswick on August 15, 1872, Orita wrote on learning of the death of a countryman, "It was a very sad matter, although we could not help it."

He attended the College chapel almost daily, as required at the time, and the Second Presbyterian Church on Sundays. He writes often of Bible studies and prayer meetings with classmates. "Fine, warm day," Orita writes of the day he was baptised, May 28, 1876. "After the morning chapel the ceremony of baptism was done by Dr. McCosh. Profs Alexander, Atwater, Packard and my classmates present. Partook Lord's supper in chapel..."

Collection Creator Biography:

Orita, Hikoichi, 1849-1920

Before coming to Princeton, Hikoichi Orita was a samurai retainer of the lord Satsuma, who in turn was one of the lords responsible for disposing of the last shogun and creating Japan's modern emperor-centered state structure. After his service to Satsuma, Orita studied at Nagasaki. When court leader Prince Iwakura decided to send his two sons to the United States to study at Rutgers University, Orita was chosen to accompany them. However, influenced by Reverend Edwin T. Corwin of Millstone, who became Orita's counselor and friend, Orita decided to attend Princeton.

Orita attended Princeton from 1872 to 1876. He occasionally received visitors or traveled through New England and New Jersey. Most of his time was spent studying and attending chapel. A highlight of his time at Princeton was his baptism by President James McCosh and Professors Stephen Alexander, Lyman Atwater and William Packard. Following graduation, Orita returned to Japan to begin a thirty-year tenure as the head of the Third Higher School in Osaka and later Kyoto. He instituted reforms modeled on the university structure he had come to know at Princeton, but in a very different context. He replaced foreign language texts with those written in Japanese, hired native Japanese instructors to take the place of Europeans, and introduced new courses in classical Japanese and Chinese literature. Today, Orita is recognized as a leader in Japanese educational reform during the early part of the 20th century. (For more information about Orita and the diary, see the Princeton Alumni Weekly, January 25, 1995, p.64).

Collection History


This photocopy of the diary was presented to Princeton in October, 1993 by a delegation of Japanese students and descendants of Orita. The original diary is retained by his family in Japan.


No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

Described by John S. Riddle, April, 1995.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. The Trustees of Princeton University hold copyright to all materials generated by Princeton University employees in the course of their work. For instances beyond Fair Use, if copyright is held by Princeton University, researchers do not need to obtain permission, complete any forms, or receive a letter to move forward with use of materials from the Princeton University Archives.

For instances beyond Fair Use where the copyright is not held by the University, while permission from the Library is not required, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

Hikoichi Orita Diary; Princeton University Archives, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library
Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library
65 Olden Street
Princeton, NJ 08540, USA
(609) 258-6345
Storage Note:
  • Mudd Manuscript Library (scamudd): Box 1