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Anna B. Shepley Omori Papers, 1904-1940

Identifier: E 1

Scope and Content Note

The Anna B. Shepley Omori papers contain correspondence, guidebooks and maps, souvenirs, receipts, diaries, and other miscellaneous items. It has been organized into two series.

Series I. Correspondence primarily contains letters from Annie Shepley Omori to her close friend, Mrs. Oliver Edwin (Bella) Williams of Boston, Massachusetts. With the exception of two early letters, the series begins in 1907, after Annie's marriage to Hyoso Omori. The letters chart her introduction and gradual adjustment to Japanese life and are filed chronologically.

Much of the correspondence is personal. However, Annie, particularly in the early years, meticulously records her impressions of Japanese daily life, culture and customs. There are intermittent references to Japanese architecture, history, philosophy, and religion, the international community in Tokyo, and current national international everts. Also of particular interest are the passages devoted to the social and educational work undertaken by the Omoris within the Japanese community. Annie often refers to the growth and development of the Yurin En, the settlement house that the Omoris established in Yodobashi in 1910.

Included in the series are typed copies of Annie's correspondence to other friends and family members. Contained in a miscellaneous folder (B1 F6) are pamphlets, newspaper articles, pictures, and a manuscript translated from Japanese.

Series II. Charles Baldwin Papers is comprised of items relating to Charles Baldwin's trip to Japan in 1909. These materials include letters, guidebooks, maps, ephemera, diaries, and travelogues describing Baldwin's perceptions and opinions. The material is arranged chronologically. The diaries, which document the trip in considerable detail, follow their own internal order. Folder 4 in box 2 contains two postcards to Baldwin, two letters to Mrs. Williams, and photocopies of photographs of Charles Baldwin.

Finally, this collection contains four letters sent by Edward S. Morse to Mr. and Mrs. O. E. Williams (B2 F5).


  • Creation: 1904-1940


Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research use.

Biographical Sketches

Anna Barrows Shepley was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1857, the child of James C. and Mary Barrows Shepley. She studied art in New York under Harry Siddons Mowbray and in Paris at Académie Julian. After that, she established studios in New York and Connecticut, where she worked as a portrait painter and children's book illustrator. Two paintings were exhibited at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair and Exposition: "Work and Play" and "The Wonderful Story".

While living in Boston, Annie met and fell in love with Hyoso Omori, a Japanese man studying in the United States. On October 1, 1907, they were married quietly and within a year settled permanently in Tokyo. Here Hyoso, an educator interested in introducing American methods of physical training into children's education, pursued projects at various institutions, He also wrote articles, gave lectures, and was eventually employed by the government to oversee sport facilities in Tokyo.

Annie, who worked occasionally with her husband, established a fledgling settlement house, the Yurin En, in 1910 at Yodobashi, a poor suburb of Tokyo. The Yurin En's activities focused on young people's needs and included playgrounds, clubs, and classes. After the death of her husband in 1913, Annie chose to remain in Japan and continue the work that she and Hyoso had begun. It was not until 1935 that Annie retired from the Yurin En. In 1938 she was decorated by the government for her service to the country. Annie Omori's years in Japan were the source of inspiration for two books. One was a translation of medieval court ladies' diaries and the other was a history of the life of Prince Shotoku. Annie's last years were taken up by her family and her farm in Hirose. She died in Japan in 1943.

Charles Baldwin was the father of Mrs. O. E. (Bella) Williams to whom most of these letters were sent. He was also a friend of Annie's and in 1909, undertook a voyage to Japan to visit her. Born at Mount Vernon, Maine, in 1938, the son of Dexter and Lavinia Howard Baldwin, he came to Boston and grew prosperous in the meat-packing industry. A prominent member of the local business community, Mr. Baldwin was a charter member of the Boston Chamber of Commerce. In 1861, he married Esther Allen Cole, the sister of the artist Joseph Cole, with whom he had three children. He died in Winchester, Massachusetts, on October 13, 1927.


0.75 linear feet (2 boxes)

Language of Materials



The Anna B. Shepley Omori papers contain correspondence, guidebooks and maps, souvenirs, receipts, diaries, and other miscellaneous items.

Series List

SERIES I. Correspondence

SERIES II. Charles Baldwin Papers

Physical Location

Phillips Library Stacks


This material was donated by Mrs. Esther Williams McKinney on February 3, 1970 (acc #19,197) and March 4, 1971 (acc #19,562) and given in memory of her mother, Mrs. Oliver E. Williams.

Bibliography and Related Collections

Wikipedia contributors. "Annie Shepley Omori." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 6 Aug. 2015. Web. 26 Apr. 2016.

Diaries of court ladies of old Japan translated by Annie Shepley Omori and Kochi Doi, DS824 .O413

Processing Information

Collection processed by Clara Rubinstein and Gregor Trinkaus-Randall, August 1984. Updated by Tamara Gaydos, April 2016.

Processed by: Clara Rubinstein and Gregor Trinkaus-Randall; Updated by: Tamara Gaydos; machine-readable finding aid created by: Rajkumar Natarajan.
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Phillips Library Repository

Peabody Essex Museum
306 Newburyport Turnpike
Rowley MA 01969 USA