Diaries 1-11, GBW Collection, UO Special Collections Reading Room 12/2016

The Gertrude Bass Warner Collection includes a hefty set of diaries, eleven in total, written by Warner detailing her daily experiences traveling throughout Asia. Easily accessible at the UO Libraries Special Collections and University Archive or digitally at Oregon Digital, these firsthand early-twentieth century accounts reveal some of the fine details a Westerner perceived about social and cultural exchanges, religious practices, and the ambiance of provincial life. Warner failed to log her thoughts and experiences in a similar fashion while living in Shanghai from 1904 to 1909, and these earnest reflections appear to be her subsequent steps toward developing a distinct transnationationalist approach. In general, Warner methodically details daily shrine (jinja, 神社) visits, local calendar events, and oral histories from shrine priest (guji). That said, she jots down numerous anecdotal moments, fleeting descriptions of her travelling companions, cuisine, and especially mannerisms and customs.

Occasionally throughout her journals, she explains the primary motive for her detailed notes: the creation of fieldnotes for a set of encyclopedic lexicons. She generated three in total (see the images below), and, though the first indicates “Gertrude Bass Warner. Shanghai. Boston, September, 1908”, it is likely that Warner added to the lexicon over time, especially considering the dating for the diary collection. The entries in Warner’s lexicons are sketches of particular topics of interest that vary in length. In Lexicon 1 under “M”, for instance, we find “Marriage – Japan” followed by “Musical instruments:”, with the previous receiving far more detail than the latter. It is likely that Warner planned to use these lexicons for more than personal and archival work. Her unpublished manuscript evinces a deep interest in Shintoism and Buddhism, and she may have hoped to have her lexicons printed as part of a larger compendium for future scholars.

Lexicons 1 and 2 (of 3), GBW Collection, UO Special Collections Reading Room 12/2016

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