Doll Diplomacy

Hi, I’m Blossom. Or should I say, konnichiwa? That’s Japanese for hello. I’m a friendship doll. In 1927, I was one of 12,739 American dolls sent to Japanese children as a good-will gesture. Talk about timing! In return, Japanese children sent 58 elaborately costumed Japanese dolls to America.

Like Mie.

The doll exchange was a prize project of the Gulick family, specifically Luther’s father, Sidney Lewis Gulick, who was a missionary in Japan — Luther was actually born there in 1892 — and never lost his love for Nippon, even after Pearl Harbor (which put him under an F.B.I. cloud, as you might imagine). During the war, American dolls in Japan had to be elaborately hidden — discovery could subject their owners to death!

Today, the story is being preserved by Sidney’s grandson, Denny — his father was Sidney’s last son (and Luther’s brother) Sidney Jr., which makes Denny a nephew of Luther’s. We met Denny and his wife, Frances, math professors at the University of Maryland, at a talk we gave on Luther Gulick last October at the George Washington University. http://blogs.baruch.cuny.edu/ipaprocessing/2016/10/spreading-the-word-the-word-is-gulick/

Since then Denny, and Luther’s grandaughters Lisa and Leslie, have augmented our Gulick collection with donations of  important family letters and other memorabilia, including records of the Dolls of Friendship.

Here’s Sidney L. Gulick and his wife, Cara Fisher Gulick, with the Japanese Ambassador and his wife at a presentation of Japan dolls in 1927:

Dr. Gulick took it seriously enough to equip each doll traveling to Japan with a letter of greeting to her new Japanese family: http://wgordon.web.wesleyan.edu/dolls/exch1927/recjapan/gulickletter.htm

Here’s a good synopsis of the story: http://www.bill-gordon.net/dolls/exch1927/gulick/index.htm

Look Japan wrote up the story in 1995: http://wgordon.web.wesleyan.edu/dolls/media/magazine/lookjapan.htm

Valparaiso University in Indiana mounted a museum exhibit on the dolls as recently as 2015: http://www.valpotorch.com/arts_and_entertainment/article_aaadd7d8-58cb-11e5-9890-e3d039049e7b.html

President John F. Kennedy was a proud recipient of Japanese friendship dolls, and his daughter, Caroline, President Obama’s Ambassador to Japan, played with them as a child. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/01/18/national/politics-diplomacy/caroline-kennedy-bids-fond-farewell-to-japan/


The Gulicks never lost their warm feelings for Japan and its dolls. Today, Denny’s daughter Sharon keeps the flame of friendship burning. http://wgordon.web.wesleyan.edu/dolls/otherprog/gulick/sharon/index.htm


The World According to Luther Gulick


We all know who this is, right?

Of course — Arnold J. Toynbee, the prolific British historian (1889-1975) renowned for his majestic opus, “A Study of History” that traced the rise and fall of 26 civilizations in 12 volumes. He graced the cover of Time the week of March 17, 1947. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arnold_J._Toynbee

Why are we telling you this?

Because Luther Gulick (who knew everyone) consulted Toynbee during World War II for his thoughts on the global cataclysm. How long was the world likely to be in turmoil? Gulick asked the most famous living historian in 1941. (Gulick himself guessed three or four generations. ) So he was taken aback when Toynbee answered 300 to 400 years.

Both were wildly off, we now know. Within four years, the Allies had vanquished the Axis and set the world on the path to peace and unprecedented prosperity, through many zigs and zags.

But it looked mighty gloomy to Gulick as he sat down at the end of 1948 to compose his annual Christmas letter to his sons Clarence and Halsey (Luther Jr.) and their families. The hot war was over but the cold war was just beginning. Jan Masaryk, the Czech patriot who had worked closely with Gulick to write a constitution for his homeland in the years after World War I, was dead, fallen — or thrown –from a window. https://blogs.baruch.cuny.edu/ipaprocessing/2014/11/and-thanks-for-the-binoculars/

Soviet-encircled Berlin had narrowly escaped strangulation, saved only by an American airlift. Chiang Kai Shek had fled Mao’s China for Taiwan.


The Generalissimo and Madame

Everywhere Gulick looked, “the revolution was on” as a scary new world struggled to be born.

In an insight that looks extraordinarily perceptive nearly seven decades later, Gulick saw America as the victim of its success, amid “the spread of materialism and technology without a corresponding advance of ethical and moral standards and sanctions.”

Here we were, with more than half the productive power of a war-savaged world, “so over-important and yet so underexposed to the real problems” that we were being dragged along into an dangerous and uncertain future.




Letters, We Get Letters!

To Luther Gulick, he was simply and affectionately “Chief” — long before Herbert Hoover became the 31st President. The two had met around 1915 when Luther was a young graduate student of government at Columbia University and Hoover was leading President Wilson’s wartime Food Administration. Gulick was soon to enter government service himself, as a military statistician.


Pacific and Atlantic/1930









We learned more about their friendship from an extraordinary trove of family letters given us by Gulick’s nephew Denny, who recently visited the Archives with Gulick’s grandaughters Leslie and Lisa, children of Gulick’s son Luther Jr.

We see, for example, that Gulick and his wife, Helen, socialized with Hoover in his apartment in the Waldorf Astoria in 1963, celebrating publication of Hoover’s whimsical book on fly fishing.


Hoover, who sat on Gulick’s board at the Institute of Public Administration, reminisced about his dashing exploits in fin de siecle China, Russia and Egypt and shared his assessments of leaders from Wilson to Harry Truman. You can read Gulick’s full account here:



We’ll be posting much more from the letters — and many others already in our files — in days and weeks ahead.


Spreading the Word: (The Word is Gulick)


Luther Gulick spent much of his career in Washington, reorganizing the executive branch for President Franklin Roosevelt in later years of the Depression, overseeing military production and refugee relief during World War II, and planning the postwar peace. So it was fitting for three members of our Baruch Library Archives team to travel to Washington on Monday, Oct. 17, to tell the story of…well, Luther Gulick in Washington, as well as Luther Gulick in Japan…and New York… and Germany….

Never ones to miss a chance to promote our historic Institute of Public Administration Collection and Luther Gulick Papers, we jumped at an invitation by Prof. Brian J. Cook of Virginia Tech to deliver a web and oral presentation at the Marvin Center of The George Washington University on the figure we call “The Man Who Loved Government.”

What better time, in fact, three weeks before a momentous national referendum on the role of government and who was fit or unfit to lead it?

And to our delight, who turned out for the occasion but four members of the Gulick clan?

Here’s the leaflet that went out:


Co-sponsoring the event at George Washington’s Cloyd Heck Marvin Center


were the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration and its director Kathryn Newcomer https://tspppa.gwu.edu/, and Administration & Society http://aas.sagepub.com/, the scholarly journal edited by Dr. Cook. https://profiles.spia.vt.edu/bcook/

Joining us there were Denny Gulick, Luther’s nephew (a son of Luther’s baby brother Sidney Jr.) and Denny’s wife, Frances, both math professors at the University of Maryland; and Lisa and Leslie Gulick, granddaughters of Luther — their father was Luther’s son Luther Jr.

Leslie is a retired physician, and Lisa is Assistant Commissioner of Planning, Research and Policy in the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development.

We made a point of bringing down one of the Gulick tee-shirts we had made up for last November’s annual conference, in Brooklyn, of NASPAA, the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration  — here’s Ralph displaying it:


and we presented it to Denny, the senior Gulick there:


(That’s Lisa, on the left; Leslie and Frances next to Denny.)

We looked for Denny’s father, Luther’s brother, in this photo of the missionary family from 1901.


That’s young Luther on the right. But it turned out that Sidney Jr. was not yet born — he came along a year later.

Ralph talked about Gulick’s achievements and the treasures of the collection (highlighted in earlier posts). Things like the signed letter from Albert Einstein, and the vintage posters and maps.

Einstein Letter



Jessica discussed the ongoing digitization process,


using high-tech equipment like our ATIZ book-scanner

atiz 3

and Steven described the processing and organization of the collection, and access procedures for scholars and researchers.



(He’s not in the Washington photos because he took the photos.) But we found one of him anyway.

use this

All we can say is, too bad the Acela wasn’t around in Luther’s day.


Psst! Wanna Buy a…Torpedo Boat?

Luther Gulick was instrumental in mobilizing industry to fight World War II, so it’s no surprise the IPA Collection includes a good sampling of vintage war posters from 1944. Collectors prize these originals.



But we were particularly struck by this one calling on patriotic Americans to “Back the Attack” by investing in War Bonds — Uncle Sam needed the loans to pay for the war.


The captions, interestingly, put a pricetag on the particular military equipment the money would buy. An Army jeep cost $1,165 in 1944 dollars — that would be the equivalent of about $15,942 today. A walkie-talkie? $200 — $2,737 today. A flamethrower? $950  — $13,000 today. All the way up to a medium tank, $57,570 ($787,835 today); a motor torpedo boat, $500,000 ($6.8 million today); and an LST, or landing ship tank, $2 million ($27.3 million today).

But those price conversions seriously misrepresent the skyrocketing costs of military equipment since. That’s largely a function of the increasing sophistication of modern weaponry. But it’s also attributable to what the D-Day hero and postwar President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, warned was the appetite of the military-industrial complex.

So an armored Humvee (a grown-up jeep) will today cost as much as $600,000. An Abrams M1 tank, $8.5 million (still perhaps a bargain compared to the top-of-the line French AMX-56 at $12.6 million.) A Seawolf class nuclear submarine will run you $3.5 billion (again, the French have a pricier version in their Triomphant class sub at more than $4 billion each). And the latest American aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford, is coming in at more than $13 billion. With two sister carriers, the trio will set American taxpayers back at least $42 billion.


Well, war (and peace) is expensive. World War II (apart from the horrific loss of life) cost more than $4 trillion in today’s dollars, as we noted in a previous post. http://blogs.baruch.cuny.edu/ipaprocessing/2014/09/the-cost-of-war 

But not all war equipment is costlier today. Cell phones are cheaper than walkie-talkies. And you can buy yourself a flamethrower these days for under $1,800.


How quaint it all seems back then!