Shively, Donald H. 1921-2005

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SHIVELY, Donald H. 1921-2005
(Donald Howard Shively)


Born May 11, 1921, in Kyoto, Japan; died August 13, 2005, in Berkeley, CA; son of American missionaries; married Mary Elizabeth Berry (a professor of Japanese history); children: Bruce, Kent, Evan, Anne, Catherine. Education: Harvard University, B.A., M.A., Ph.D. Hobbies and other interests: Tennis, old jazz, Sierra hikes, banana plants, Japanese pots, and Kyoto noodles.


Journal of Asian Studies, editor, during the late 1950s; Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, professor of Japanese history and literature, 1964; Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, Cambridge, editor, 1975-83; University of California, Berkeley, professor of East Asian languages and cultures, head of East Asian Library, 1983-91.

Served variously as the chair for the Center for Japanese Studies at the University of California, Berkeley; chair of the Department of Asian Languages at Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA; chair of the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, and director of the Japan Institute (later the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies) at Harvard University. Member of National Commission for UNESCO, 1958-60; chair of U.S. delegation to the Commission for U.S.-Japan Cultural Educational Exchange, 1969-71. Military service: Served as a Japanese language officer in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II.


Bronze Star for service in World War II: Order of the Rising Sun, from the Japanese government, 1982.



(Translator) Monzaemon Chikamatsu, The Love Suicide at Amijima, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1953.

(Author of Introduction and editor, with Albert M. Craig) Personality in Japanese History, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 1970.

(Editor) Tradition and Modernization in Japanese Culture, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1971.

(With James R. Brandon and William P. Malm) Studies in Kabuki: Its Acting, Music, and Historical Context, University Press of Hawaii (Honolulu, HI), 1978.

(Editor, with William H. McCullough) The Cambridge History of Japan, Volume 2, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1999.


Donald H. Shively was an educator, writer, historian, and one of the foremost authorities on Japanese popular culture in the United States. Born in Kyoto, Japan, to American missionaries, Shively studied at the Canadian Academy in Kobe, Japan, before returning to the United States. He attended Harvard University, where he received his bachelor's and master's degrees, as well as his doctorate. During World War II, he put his background to use as a Japanese language officer in the Marine Corps, a tour for which he was awarded the Bronze Star.

After the war, Shively worked with various organizations to improve Japanese-American relations. He built a career as an educator, serving as professor of East Asian languages and studies at Harvard University, Stanford University, and the University of California, Berkeley, as well as the editor for such periodicals as the Journal of Asian Studies and the Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies. In addition, he was the head of the University of California, Berkeley, East Asian Library, where his duties included the preservation and cataloging of the Mitsui Collection, the largest grouping of early Japanese maps and books outside of Japan.

Shively's writings and research focused on the Tokugawa period in Japan, a time when shogun law was tested by the up-and-coming bourgeoisie. He co-wrote or edited several books on Japanese culture and history, his final effort being the second volume of The Cambridge History of Japan, with William H. Mc-Cullough. The book covers the Heian period, from 794 to 1185, in a series of essays about the dissolution of the bureaucratic state, the life of the aristocrats at court, and the way in which warriors eventually rose to replace the government after it failed to maintain its financial base of control. Robert Borgen, in a review for the Journal of the American Oriental Society, remarked that this volume in the series "has flaws. It was born prematurely gray and would have benefited from a stronger editorial hand. Readers willing to overlook these problems, however, will discover that it also contains much first-rate scholarship, mostly of the old school."



Directory of American Scholars, Volume 1: History, 8th edition, Bowker (New York, NY), 1982.


American Historical Review, December, 2001, review of The Cambridge History of Japan, Volume 2.

Journal of the American Oriental Society, October-December, 2002, Robert Borgen, review of The Cambridge History of Japan, Volume 2, p. 839.



Los Angeles Times, August 20, 2005, "Donald Shively, 84; UC Berkeley Teacher, Expert on Japanese Culture," p. B17.

New York Times, August 24, 2005, Margalit Fox, "Donald H. Shively, 84, Leader in Japanese Studies in the U.S.," p. C16.

San Francisco Chronicle, August 15, 2005, Meredith May, "Donald H. Shively—Scholar on Japan,"p. B2.*