Earlham College and Japanese Americans 1942-1945

Earlham's History with Japan

Kaifu Chuzo, Earlham's First Japanese Student, Arrived in 1890


Earlham had ties with Japan that went back to the 1880s, when Earlham alumnus Joseph Cosand had opened a school for girls in Tokyo.

In 1890, Earlham's first Japanese student, Chuzo Kaifu, arrived, and over the next fifty years there was usually at least one student from Japan on campus.

In 1926, when Congress officially ended Japanese immigration to the United States, Earlham students, as a protest and act of friendship, raised funds for Wilfred Jones to spend a year at the Imperial University in Tokyo.

Kaifu Chuzo photo

1942 - American Friends Service Committee
Edna and Homer Morris (right rear) with Family


When the internment began in 1942, the Quaker humanitarian agency, the American Friends Service Committee, sent two of its staff, Earlham alumni Homer and Edna Morris, to California, to try to aid Japanese Americans. Since the internment order did apply to Japanese Americans outside of the exclusion zone, Japanese American college students had already begun attempts to transfer to Midwestern and Eastern schools.

Photo Homer and Edna Morris

1942 - William Dennis


In January 1942, Earlham’s president, William C. Dennis, was on a fund-raising trip in California. William O. Mendenhall, a former member of the Earlham faculty and the president of Whittier College, a Quaker school, contacted Dennis about accepting Japanese American students enrolled at Whittier. Dennis immediately agreed.

After consultation with the Morrises (Homer Morris was a member of the Earlham board), Dennis agreed to accept up to 12 Japanese American students.


William Dennis photograph

1942-1945 - William Dennis

Dennis was conservative by temperament, and an attorney by vocation, so he planned carefully for what he knew could be a ticklish situation. If he had any reservations abut his course, no record of them has survived.

But he was exacting in his requirements for enrollment.

Dennis photo and quote