John Whitney Hall

American Japanologist

John Whitney Hall (September 13, 1916 – October 21, 1997),[1] was an American academic, historian, editor and professor at Yale University.[2]

Early years


Hall was born in Kyoto in 1916. He lived in Japan until he was a teenager. According to his wife, "Being brought up in Japan and by missionaries, he was a very straight-arrow kind of person. There is this kind of missionary feeling, that you must make something of this [life], not just throw it away."[2]

At Amherst College, he was awarded a degree in 1939. He returned to Japan an instructor in English at Doshisha University in Kyoto until 1941.[2]

Hall earned his Ph.D. in East Asian languages and literatures from Harvard University in 1950. At Harvard, he became one of the first graduate students to study under Edwin O. Reischauer.[2]



In 1948, Hall began teaching at the University of Michigan.[3]

His earliest book was Tanuma Okitsugu, 1718-1787.[4] Among other interests, his research focused on the Kamakura period in the history of Japan.[5]

He taught at Yale University until he retired in 1983.[2] Yale's John W. Hall Lecture Series in Japanese Studies was established in his memory.[6]

Selected works


In a statistical overview derived from writings by and about John Whitney Hall, OCLC/WorldCat encompasses roughly 90+ works in 200+ publications in 8 languages and 10,000+ library holdings[7]

  • Japanese History; a Guide to Japanese Reference and Research Materials (1954)
  • Tanuma Okitsugu, 1719–1788, Forerunner of Modern Japan (1955)
  • Government and Local Power in Japan, 500 to 1700; a Study Based on Bizen Province (1960)
  • Japanese History: New Dimensions of Approach and Understanding (1961)
  • Twelve Doors to Japan (1965) with Richard K. Beardsley
  • Studies in the Institutional History of Early Modern Japan (1968) with Marius Jansen
  • Japan, from Prehistory to Modern Times (1970)
  • Japan in the Muromachi Age (1977) with Toyoda Takeshi
  • The Cambridge history of Japan (1988-  )



Since 1994, the Association for Asian Studies (AAS) has awarded the John Whitney Hall Book Prize for an English language book published on Japan[9] or Korea.[10]


  1. "John Whitney Hall papers,"[permanent dead link] Yale University Library
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Scott, Janny. "John W. Hall, Historian of Japan, Dies at 81," New York Times, October 27, 1997.
  3. Conlon, Frank. F. (1997). "John Whitney Hall, 1916-1997," World History Archives. Retrieved 2012-12-6.
  4. Hardacre, Helen. (1998). The Postwar Development of Japanese Studies in the United States, p. 92.
  5. Hardacre, p. 57.
  6. "Ishida Gives Hall Lecture," MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies, Fall 2010. Retrieved 2011-12-6.
  7. WorldCat Identities: Hall, John Whitney 1916-
  8. "Japan Foundation Award, 1976". Archived from the original on 2012-06-06. Retrieved 2011-12-06.
  9. "John Whitney Hall Book Prize of the Association for Asian Studies, list". Archived from the original on 2011-11-24. Retrieved 2011-12-06.
  10. Since 2010, the James B. Palais Book Prize Archived 2011-11-24 at the Wayback Machine of the AAS has honored work on Korean subjects.

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