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Open Access Thesis
Master of Arts (M.A.)
Year Degree Awarded
Month Degree Awarded
Benjamin Smith Lyman was a geologist from Northampton, Massachusetts, who was contracted by the Japanese government in 1872 to carry out coal surveys on the island of Hokkaidō 北海道. What started out as a standard geological survey, quickly evolved into a lifelong interest in Japan for Lyman. The large collection of letters, books, photographs, and other documents housed under the Benjamin Smith Lyman Collection at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, serve as a primary source on both early relations between the Japanese and the West and the beginnings of the large network of academic writings which today can be classified as Japanese Studies. His Japanese career can be broken into two parts, 1872-1881, and 1881-1920. Highlights of the first part include problems with early Japanese government bureaucracy, feuds between fellow oyatoi gaikokujin, living conditions for foreigners living in Japan, the transmission of knowledge from foreign professionals to Japanese students, and even a small insight into the Dutch community in Tokyo. Highlights of the second include interactions with men such as Murray, Chamberlain, and Satow; several articles on topics ranging from mirrors to sociology; Lyman’s adopted Japanese son; and the Japanese community in 1890s Philadelphia.
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Ashby, Benjamin, "Benjamin Smith Lyman: Geologist at the Intersection of Hokkaido, Japan, and the United States" (2021). Masters Theses. 1091.