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Howard B. Hamilton Japanese Theater Papers, ca. 1956-1994
25.5 Linear feet 25 records storage boxes, 1 flat box
Collection number: MA.01023

Abstract:
Hamilton (1918-2007), a physician and medical researcher associated with the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission and the Radiation Effects Research Foundation in Hiroshima, Japan, was equally noted for his enthusiastic patronage of and participation in Japanese Noh theater, and for his lecture-demonstrations of Noh for English-speaking audiences. The collection consists of several thousand photographs, albums, films, theater programs related to Noh, Kabuki and Bunraku, as well as a small number of props and costumes. (His collection of Japanese art and theater books will be cataloged separately. Many of his Japanese art and artifacts are also part of the Mead Art Museum's collections.)

Terms of Access and Use:

Restrictions on access:

There is no restriction on access to the collection for research use. Particularly fragile items are restricted for preservation purposes.

Restrictions on use:

Requests for permission to publish material from the collection should be directed to the Archives and Special Collections. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Amherst College Archives and Special Collections

Biographical Note

Howard B. Hamilton (1918-2007) received a BA from the University of Rochester (1941) and MD from the Yale University School of Medicine (1945). He served in the U.S. Navy, 1942-1945. In the late ’40s and early ’50s he conducted research as a biochemist at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard, and other institutions. He moved to Hiroshima, Japan, in 1956, where he stayed for thirty years, serving as the Chief of Clinical Laboratories for the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission (ABCC), 1956-1975, then for the Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF) until 1984. He published extensively on medical topics. However, Dr. Hamilton was also well known for his enthusiastic patronage of and participation in Japanese Noh Theater. After his retirement, Dr. Hamilton catalogued Noh and Kabuki works and published Noh plays.

The oldest extant theater tradition in the world, Noh is a highly symbolic, aesthetic, non-realistic, poetic monodrama with origins in dance and religious ceremony in Japan and China, perfected to its present form in the 14th century. Noh’s three elements are song, dance and drama. It is performed by elegantly costumed and often masked actor-dancers on an uncluttered stage devoid of realistic scenery and properties. The highlight of Noh drama is the dance section, consisting of abstract movement and gesture in symbolic pantomime of verses chanted by the chorus. [Source: Howard B. Hamilton, "Japanese Noh Theater: A Lecture-Recital," n.d.] Noh is a monodrama in that it is completely dominated by the leading role: "In western drama, something happens; in Noh, someone appears" (Paul Claudel). Song is always present; dance and drama only sometimes. Its effect is sculptural (a square stage viewed from the front and sides) rather than pictorial, as in traditional western theater.

Shortly after his arrival in Hiroshima, Dr. Hamilton met IZUMO Tsunekazu, a Kita Noh school professional actor. He began taking weekly lessons in September 1956. He soon performed various shimai in Hiroshima. (A shimai is a simplified version of Noh performed by the shite, or lead role, wearing a crest-adorned kimono and Japanese-style trousers; it generally involves no masks, costumes or props, with the exception of a long sword or cane.) In 1959 Dr. Hamilton was involved in his first public Noh performance as the shite in Chikubushima. His first performance on a true Noh stage was in Miyajima, the ancient stage at Itsukushima Shrine, as part of its annual Tokasai Festival. He generally performed twice a year: once on temporary stages in Hiroshima, and again at Miyajima. Eventually he also performed at the Kita Noh stage in Tokyo and elsewhere. For the benefit of non-Japanese speaking attendees at Miyajima, Dr. Hamilton prepared summaries of the plays in English, and translations of the play in which he performed.

Dr. Hamilton presented many lecture-demonstrations for American audiences. These events consisted of two parts: first, an illustrated slide lecture of Noh performances, some in the Kita Nohgakudo in Tokyo, and others from the Tokasai performances at Miyajima. The second part consisted of Dr. Hamilton presenting several examples of Noh shimai, accompanied by utai (choral recitations) on tape recordings.

Scope and Contents

Albums, programs, notes, lectures, correspondence, photographs, slides, videotapes, and films related to Dr. Hamilton's interest in Japanese theater, particularly Noh, chiefly from his time living in Japan, 1956-1980s, and afterward in retirement in the United States. Dr. Hamilton took lessons in Noh performance under Izumo Tsunekazu, a professional actor in the Kita Noh school, starting in 1956, and was involved in his first public performance in 1959. He lectured widely to audiences about the Noh theater tradition, and prepared English-language translations and summaries of Noh plays in which he performed. These translations were incorporated into albums together with photographs. The collection also includes a number of Noh costumes and props.


Information on Use
Terms of Access and Use
Restrictions on access:

There is no restriction on access to the collection for research use. Particularly fragile items are restricted for preservation purposes.

Restrictions on use:

Requests for permission to publish material from the collection should be directed to the Archives and Special Collections. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Preferred Citation

Please use the following format when citing materials from this collection: [Identification of item], in Howard B. Hamilton Japanese Theater Papers [Box #, Folder #], Amherst College Archives and Special Collections, Amherst College Library.

History of the Collection

Gift of John Dunbar, 2010.


Additional Information
Contact Information
Amherst College Archives and Special Collections
Robert Frost Library
PO Box 5000
Amherst, MA 01002-5000

Phone: (413) 542-2299
Fax: (413) 542-2692

Email Reference Form: http://www.amherst.edu/library/archives/askus
URL: http://www.amherst.edu/library/archives
Language
English
Contents List
Series 1: NOH PAPERS AND PERSONAL AFFAIRS



Series 1 consists of correspondence, notes, programs, clippings, photographs and other materials chiefly concerning Dr. Hamilton's lecture-performances on Noh theater in Japan and the United States.

Personal Affairs



Personal affairs: miscellaneous clippings
ca. 1960-1973

Box 1: folder 1
Personal affairs: Japanese Literature in European Languages: A Bibliography
1961

Box 1: folder 2
Personal affairs: miscellaneous
ca. 1985

Box 1: folder 3
Noh Theater Papers



Arrangement:

Chronological arrangement, with undated material at the end.

General

Additional copies of "Japanese Noh Theater" booklet (see box 1, folder 7) are at end of box 1.

Lecture-performance: correspondence and news items
1968-1974

Box 1: folder 4
Onoe Baiko VII, Nagayo Kita, etc.: correspondence re: Kabuki performances
1962-1977

Box 1: folder 5
Newsletters of the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission (ABCC)
1966-1980

Box 1: folder 6
"Japanese Noh Theater": pamphlet prepared by Akira Matsui and Howard Hamilton
(bulk ca. 1970s)

Box 1: folder 7
Noh information
(bulk ca. 1970s)

Box 1: folder 8
Translation of Noh, Kabuki and Bunraku, and correspondence with notable performers
(bulk ca. 1970-1972)

Box 1: folder 9
Programs for "Saint Francis" and other Noh plays
1970-1981

Box 1: folder 10
Lecture-performances: correspondence
1973-1976

Box 1: folder 11
Lecture-performances
1973

Box 1: folder 12
Abstracts for Noh lecture-performances
1973-1984

Box 1: folder 13
Publicity about Noh performances
1976-1978

Box 1: folder 14
Correspondence with Chifumi Shimazaki
1977-1984

Box 1: folder 15
TORU notes and photographs
[1978?]

Box 1: folder 16
4th International Symposium, "Noh in the World," Hosei University
1979-12

Box 1: folder 17
Noh performances - miscellaneous
ca. 1980

Box 1: folder 18
List of Noh translations
ca. 1980

Box 1: folder 18a
Chronology of Noh (and other) performances, 1957-1980, in which Hamilton appears to have performed
[1980?]

Box 1: folder 18b
YORIMASA performed by Hamilton at Miyajima
1980-04

Box 1: folder 19
Correspondence with Chifumi Shimazaki re: Shura-Noh Ms.
1981-1982

Box 1: folder 20
Correspondence with Chifumi Shimazaki (partly re: Yashima Ms.)
1982-1983

Box 1: folder 21
Correspondence with Chifumi Shimazaki
1984

Box 1: folder 22
Yale Medical Alumni weekend (featuring program of Noh performance by Hamilton)
1984-06

Box 1: folder 23
Hiroshima International Relations Organization (HIRO)
[1985]

Box 1: folder 24
Clippings about Noh
1985

Box 1: folder 25
Workshops and symposia - Virginia
1988

Box 1: folder 26
Correspondence re: donating slide collection to Library of Congress
1994

Box 1: folder 27
Kabuki information
ca. 1994-2001

Box 1: folder 28
Noh "Oedipus" production at Towson State University
1996-1997

Box 1: folder 29
Lecture notes on Noh; readings
n.d.

Box 1: folder 30
Photograph and program
n.d.

Box 1: folder 31
Shura Noh: introduction and Yashima
n.d.

Box 1: folder 32
TATSUTA notes
n.d.

Box 1: folder 33
TATSUTA notes (continued)
n.d.

Box 1: folder 34
Noh plays - notes and summaries in English (1 of 2)
n.d.

Box 1: folder 35
Noh plays - notes and summaries in English (2 of 2)
n.d.

Box 1: folder 36
Noh masks list
n.d.

Box 1: folder 37
Kuma screen explanation by Yamazaki
n.d.

Box 1: folder 38
"Exotic stationery" featuring Noh artwork
n.d.

Box 1: folder 39
Japanese - misc.
n.d.

Box 1: folder 40
Series 2: PROGRAMS
ca. 1956-1997 and n.d.


Theatrical programs, chiefly related to kabuki performances that Dr. Hamilton attended in Japan, but also including bunraku, ca. 1956-1997.

Programs, ca. 1956-1997 and n.d.


Box 2
Programs, n.d.
(bulk undated)

Box 3
Bound programs - "Bunraku 1"
1958 Nov - 1960 Jun

Box 3
Bound programs - "Bunraku 2"
1960 Jul - 1962 Jul

Box 3
Bound programs - "Bunkraku 3"
1962 Oct - 1964 Dec

Box 3
Bound programs - "Bunraku 4"
1965-1969

Box 3
Series 3: NOH ALBUMS
1957-1978


Scope and content:

Bound albums of photographs and (usually) English text for Noh performances in which Hamilton performed.

Arrangement:

Arranged chronologically by date of performance.

"Noh 4" album
1957-1962

Box 4
Funa Benkei (Benkei in the Boat)
1961 Oct

Box 4
Tatsuta
1962 Nov

Box 4
"Noh 3" album
1962-1963

Box 4
Makurajido (The Pillow Page)
1963 Apr

Box 4
Tomoe
1963 Oct

Box 4
Tamura
1964 Oct

Box 4
Kokaji (The Swordsmith)
1964 Apr

Box 5
Kurozaka (The Black Mound)
1965 Apr

Box 5
"Noh 8" album
1963-1965

Box 5
"Noh 2" album (Kurozuka, Makurajido, Ama, Sanomori, Nue)
1965-1966

Box 5
Nue (Supernatural Night Bird); Funabenkei (Benkei in the Boat)
1966 Apr-May

Box 5
Funa Benkei (Benkei in the Boat)
1966

Box 5
"Noh 5" album (Nue, Funabenkei, Kantan, Nomori)
1966-1967

Box 6
"Noh 10" album (Miwa, Tadanori, Ataka)
1967-1968

Box 6
Miwa; Ukai
1968 Apr-Oct

Box 6
"Noh 6" album (Makiginu; Ukai; Kazuraki)
1968-1969

Box 6
Kazuraki; Ebira (The Arrow Quiver)
1969 Apr, Oct

Box 11
"Noh 7" album (Kazuraki; Yaro; Ebira; Makiginu)
1969-1970

Box 6
"Noh 9" album (Makiginu, Shamoji, Yumiyhawata, Tenko)
1970

Box 7
Tenko (The Dream of Heaven); Makiginu (Rolls of Silk)
1971 Apr, Oct

Box 7
Kita Minoru assumes title of Iemoto, Tokyo
1971

Box 7
"Noh 1" album (Ebira, Ataka, Chikubushima)
1971 Apr, May

Box 7
Tamura
1971

Box 7
Chikubushima (The Bamboo Isle); Tamura
1971 Apr, May

Box 7
Ama (Woman Diver)
1972 Apr

Box 8
Kamo
[1974?]

Box 8
Kanwaw (The Iron Crown)
1974 Apr

Box 8
Momijigari (The Maple Viewing Party) (Tokyo)
1974 Dec

Box 8
Momijigari (The Maple Viewing Party) (Tokyo)
1974

Box 8
Sessho Seki (The Death Stone)
1975 Oct

Box 9
Tenko (The Drum of Heaven)
1977 May

Box 9
Toru
1978 Apr

Box 9
Unidentified play
n.d.

Box 10
Noh masks photographed (4 pocket albums)
n.d.

Box 10
"Kuma to 1965" (1 pocket album)
ca. 1957-1965

Box 10
"Kuma - no index" (1 pocket album)
n.d.

Box 10
Yashima
n.d.

Box 11
Yorimasa
n.d.

Box 11
Kantan (Life is a Dream)
n.d.

Box 11
Tenko
n.d.

Box 11
Series 4: PHOTOGRAPHS



Unsorted, mostly unidentified loose photographic prints of Noh performances.

Photographs and negatives - mostly unidentified Noh performances


Box 12
Photographs and negatives - mostly unidentified Noh performances


Box 13
Series 5: SLIDES



The color slide images consist almost entirely of photographs of Noh performances in which Dr. Hamilton participated. Some are arranged in slide carousel cartridges used for his lecture-demonstrations. In addition, there are images of Noh masks and a small number of personal travel photographs.

Inventories to 35mm slides: groups B1-B42, C1-C39; slide boxes 1-63; and his Noh "Lecture Series" slides. Also includes a letter, 30 Jan 1980, written to Poh Sim, explaining his organizational scheme, his notational practices, and general photographic work. Finally, a 7-page chronology of Noh (and other) plays in which Hamilton appears to have either attended and photographed or actually performed in between 1957 and 1980.


Box 14
Groups B1-B6


Box 14
Groups B6 (continued) - B11


Box 14
Groups B11 (continued) - B12


Box 14
Groups B11 (continued) - B17


Box 14
Groups B17 (continued) - B22


Box 14
Groups B22 (continued) - B28


Box 14
Groups B28 (continued) - B33


Box 14
Groups B33 (continued) - B38


Box 14
Groups B38 (continued) - B43


Box 14
Groups B44 - B49


Box 14
Groups B49 - B55


Box 14
Groups C1 - C6


Box 14
Groups C6 (continued) - C11


Box 14
Groups C11 (continued) - C16


Box 14
Groups C16 (continued) - C21


Box 14
Groups C22 - C27


Box 14
Groups C27 (continued) - C32


Box 14
Groups C32 (continued) - C37


Box 14
Groups C37 (continued) - C39


Box 14
Slide boxes numbered 43-58


Box 14
Slide boxes numbered 59-63


Box 15
Slides, unsorted


Box 15
Slides, unsorted


Box 16
Series 6: FILMS AND VIDEOTAPES


Box 17 Box 18 Box 19 Box 20

Film reels and VHS videotapes, chiefly of Noh plays performed in Japan, but also including some commercially-produced opera performances in VHS.

Series 7: COSTUMES AND OTHER TEXTILES


Box 21 Box 22 Box 23

Chiefly Noh costumes.

Series 8: OBJECTS


Box 24

Miscellaneous Noh props.

Series 9: DIGITAL MEDIA


Box 25

Motion picture and still images converted to digital format from Dr. Hamilton's collection in the early 2000s.

Series 10: OVERSIZE MATERIAL


Box OS-1

A small amount of miscellaneous oversize material, such as posters and publications.


Search Terms
The following terms represent persons, organizations, and topics documented in this collection. Use these headings to search for additional materials on this web site, in the Five College Library Catalog, or in other library catalogs and databases.

Contributors
  • Dunbar, John
  • Hamilton, Howard B.


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