Collection inventory

Special Collections home page
printer friendly version

Joseph Heco Collection

An inventory of the collection at Syracuse University

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Heco, Joseph, 1837-1897
Title: Joseph Heco Collection
Inclusive Dates: 1852-1991
Quantity: 2.5 linear ft.
Abstract: Papers of Japanese-American businessman and newspaper publisher Joseph Heco (Hikozo Hamada). Includes letters, manuscripts, memorabilia, photographs, clippings. Also later printed material about Heco, including books, serials, and Joseph Heco Memorial Society newsletters.
Language: English Japanese
Repository: Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010

Biographical History

Joseph Heco (1837-1897) was a Japanese-American journalist and newspaperman.

Hikozo Hamada, the farmer's son who would become Joseph Heco, was born in 1837, toward the end of the Tokugawa Era, a time of the closing of Japan to foreign influence. A few years after his father's death, his mother remarried. Fortunately the fatherless boy had been accepted to a temple school for training and education, an unusual occurrence for someone of his social class. His stepfather, a seaman on a freighter often away from home, loved and continued to care for the boy when the mother subsequently died during his twelfth year.

At thirteen years of age, Heco's stepfather took him on a sightseeing tour of Edo. On their way home, a severe storm in the Pacific wrecked the ship. Seventeen survivors, Heco among them, were rescued by the American freighter "Auckland." According to Payson Jackson Treat's book Japan and America, these seventeen were the first Japanese to reach California.

In 1852 the United States Government sent the group to Macao to join Commodore Perry, a gesture they hoped would help open diplomatic relations with Japan. Afterwards Heco went to Baltimore where he studied at a Catholic school and was baptized "Joseph" in 1854. In 1858 he became a naturalized citizen. He was the only Japanese to have shaken hands with Presidents Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan.

In 1859, Heco entered Japan as an interpreter for American merchant and diplomat Townsend Harris and for the first U.S. Consul at Kanagawa, E.M. Dorr; these were his first steps on his native soil since the rescue nine years before. After the Civil War broke out in the United States, Heco returned briefly to his adopted country, becoming the only Japanese to shake the hand of President Abraham Lincoln.

In 1863, Heco established a trading firm in Japan and also began his publishing career. His knowledge of English and of foreign customs and his belief in the value of newspapers proved helpful in the growing diplomatic community.

Heco died in 1897. He is regarded in Japan as the father of Japanese journalism, and the Joseph Heco Memorial Society continues to honor his accomplishments and contributions.

Return to top

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Joseph Heco Collection consists of Joseph Heco's papers and of printed material about him. Heco's Papers include letters, manuscripts, speeches, copies of various official documents, memoranda, and maps. Printed material includes Joseph Heco Memorial Society newsletters, Yokohama Historical Archives issues and reprints, and several books on Heco and on Japan generally. All printed material is in Japanese.

Return to top

Arrangement of the Collection

The original papers are in no particular order. Printed material is in alphabetical order by title, as far as possible.

Return to top


Access Restrictions

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Return to top

Subject Headings


Hamada, Hikozo, 1837-1897.
Heco, Joseph, 1837-1897.


Japanese American authors.
Japanese Americans -- Archives.
Journalism -- Japan.
Journalists -- Japan.


Japan --History -- 19th century.

Genres and Forms

Clippings (information artifacts)
Journals (periodicals)
Manuscripts (document genre)
Speeches (documents)



Return to top

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Joseph Heco Collection,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Portions purchased; portions gift of Haruyoshi Chikamori; portions gift of Hisako Ito.

Finding Aid Information

Created by: -
Date: 1984
Revision history: 26 Sep 2005 - EAD file created (MRR); 19 Jul 2006 - minor changes to subject headings (MRR); 19 May 2008 - corrections, additions (MRC)

Return to top


Box 1 Item 1 - Narrative of a Japanese (Heco's autobiography) (2 volumes)
Box 1 Item 2 - Work folder
letters; negative of Heco photograph [missing as of 9/26/05]; letters from Saunder's daughter; copy of article in "Friend," Honolulu; several articles about Heco in Japanese from Japanese newspapers
Box 1 Item 3 - Ledger notebook marked "Prices current."
letters in Heco's handwriting, data concering export duties etc., clipping and newspaper reports of the arrival of the steam-sloop Wyoming from her trip to Shimonoseki, 20 July 1863. Also handwritten note from George S. Fisher, U.S. Consul, dated 12 July 1863 telling "Mr. Heco" to be on board the Wyoming at 4 o'clock sharp "without fail." Pencil drawing by Heco of the vessel telling how many shots they fired and where they hit. Map of Shimonoseki.
Box 1 Item 4 - Old Japan
48 page ms. In Heco's hand, 6 pp inserted between pp 10 and 11
Box 1 Item 5 - 2 ordinances 1872
Copy in Japanese of 2 ordinances concerning prostitutes and "long term contracts."
Box 1 Item 6 - commercial treaty 1858
Copy in Japanese of commercial treaty between the U.S. and Japan
Box 1 Item 7 - "The Convention of Yedo" 25 June 1866
Copy of the Convention, signed by England, France, America, Holland and Japan including a revised tariff, printed by Japan Times.
Box 1 Item 8 - ordinance 1869
Copy in Japanese of an ordinance regarding the fundamental structure of the new government formed after the Meiji Restoration.
Box 1 Item 9 - Hyoryu-ki (Memoirs of a Castaway)
Japanese edition published in 1863. The original from which Narrative of a Japanese was later written. This is Heco'scopy.
Box 1 Item 10 - Document 1865
In Japanese, written by Heco. Presented to the Tokugawa government but refused as impossible of realization.
Box 1 Item 11 - Three letters in Japanese concerning revision of the tariffs 1866
Box 1 Item 12 - Five speeches by the Honorable Charles Sumner in the U.S. Senate 10 Dec 1861, 11 Dec 1861, 9 Jan 1862, 20 Jan 1862, 13 Feb 1862
On the back of one of these is written in Heco's hand in pencil, "Recd from the Senate Jany. 25/62."
Box 1 Item 13 - Manifesto issued during Tokugawa era
Dated in pencil in Heco's hand, "Yedo 1863," the time of Choshu trouble. Document in Japanese.
Box 1 Item 14 - Joseph Heco's memorandum to the Prince of Hizen 1868
Annotated in pencil in Heco's hand, "Osaka June 10, 1868 by J.H. Presented to the Prince of Hizen in Kyoto." Document in Japanese.
Box 1 Item 15 - A lengthy explanation of military drill and strategy occidental style, with illustrations 1868
In Heco's hand in English, "Written by J. Heco Nagasaki in 1868." Document in Japanese.
Box 1 Item 16 - Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Commerce between Her Majesty and the Tycoon of Japan 1858
Signed, in the English, Japanese and Dutch languages, at Yedo, August 26, 1858. Autographed "Joseph Heco, Esq., Yokohama. With Edward Clarke's compts." Printed copy in English.
Box 1 Item 17 - Explanation to Prince Hosokawa how to operate and manage the warship he had purchased from England. Document in Japanese. 1867
Box 1 Item 18 - Exhibition catalogue (87 pages.)
Catalogue of exhibition by Yokohama City of Perkins Collection in 1940, with explanation of documents in Japanese.
Box 1 Item 19 - Document 1862
In Japanese. Written by Heco, 1862, to be presented to Sakai Utanokami, a prince in the Tokugawa government
Box 1 Item 20 - Speech of Hon. D.W. Voorhees of Indiana in the House of Representatives 20 Feb 1862
Box 2 Item 21 - Remarks of Hon. Henry May of Maryland 18 July 1861
Remarks on the oppression of Maryland, given in the House of Representatives. Autographed "Henry May to Jos. Heco."
Box 2 Item 22 - Speech of Hon. M.S. Wilkinson on the expulsion of Mr. Bright from the Senate, given in the Senate 20 Jan 1862
Box 2 Item 23 - Speech of the Hon. J.D. Bright on the Resolution proposed for his expulsion, given in the Senate 5 Feb 1862
Box 2 Item 24 - Map of Tokyo
In Japanese, with strip of paper attached showing "Mr. Waters' house"
Box 2 Item 25 - Ms 4 March 1866
In Japanese. Heco's suggestions to Miyamoto Koichiro, Mayor of Yokohama, about a warehouse. Annotated in pencil, "Written by self, 1866."
Box 2 Item 26 - Map
In Japanese, inscribed "To Heco Edq. S.Q. Araki Land Office."
Box 2 Item 27 - Description of 100 cities and large towns of America 1852
With railroad distances through the U.S. and 13 maps of New York, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Boston, Baltimore, Washington, St. Louis, Buffalo, Milwaukee, New Orleans and San Francisco. NY 1852.
Box 2 Item 28 - Japan Daily Mail 14 Feb 1889
Box 2 Item 29 - Pencil sketch: "Mr Bates' house, Dec. 16 1858." 1858
Box 2 Item 30 - Documents A, B, C, and D and Heco's copies of them. 1872
These comprise Heco's recommendations to Secretary of Ministry of Finance concerning setting up a system of feudal domains, parliament and law courts in such domains, and the transfer of the capital back to Kyoto.
Box 2 Item 31 - Key to the guide map of Nikkosan, Japan 1884 (belonged to Heco)
Box 2 Item 32 - Photographs
Joseph Heco in middle age
Heco as an older man with commemorative stone marker "The Old Residence of Joseph Heco, Pioneer of Japanese Newspaper"
Mr Saunders
U.S.S. St. Mary
Engraving: The President and the Japanese Embassy
Box 2 Item 33 - Nihon Gaiko Tembyo (in Japanese, about Heco) March 1934
Box 2 Item 34 - America Hikozo, Heco's autobiography
Translated from the English, published October 1932
Box 2 Item 35 - Two books in Japanese. Shimbun no Kwanso (Pilot of Recent Journalism). Hamada Hikozo no Jiseki (Works of Hikozo Hamada).
Box 2 Item 36 - Shin kyujidai, "Hiko no kaigai shinbun ni tsuite. Kaigai Shimbun." Feb 1915
In Japanese. Edited by Hikozo.
Box 2 Item 37 - 2 issues of Meiji Bunkwa, "Beri no Bankoku to Hiko no Kaigai shimbun." Oct 1929, Nov 1929
In Japanese.
Box 2 Item 38 - Correspondence between P.D. Perkins and T. Nakamura, Yokohama (and other notations concering Heco).
Box 2 Item 39 - Japanese popular songs about "Kurobune" (Black Ships)
In Japanese. Added by collector, not part of Heco's original estate.
Box 2 Item 40 - Unidentified mss
In Japanese. Added by collector, not part of Heco's original estate.
Printed material
Box 3 Clippings about Heco 1964 - on centenary of Heco's founding of first newspaper in Japan (2 items)
Box 3 Exhibit catalog 1985 - mentions Heco
Box 3 Joseph Heco Memorial Society newsletter, no's 1-8 1973-1976
Box 3 Kaigai Shinbun 1976
Box 3 Yokohama Archives of History 1976 - Articles about Heco; 2 copies of one issue plus various photocopies, reprints, etc. (2 folders)
Box 3 Miscellaneous books on Heco or on Japan in general 1976 (3 items)

Return to top