Guide to the Kanto Earthquake Materials, 1923


Materials from the aftermath of the earthquake that struck the Japanese region of Kanto on September 1, 1923. Includes a map of Tokyo and the disaster area, a copy of the special issue International Graphic Magazine from September/October 1923, a photo-illustrated pamphlet, 18 postcards with color-tinted photographs, and a scrapbook of photographs and newsprint about the event.

Descriptive Summary

Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, Duke University
Kanto Earthquake Materials 1923
Language of Material
2.0 Linear Feet, 25 Items
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.

Collection Overview

Materials in this collection include a mixture of formats documenting the aftermath of the Kanto earthquake. A set of 18 postcards, tinted with color in some cases, contain photographs of wrangled railroad systems, destroyed buildings, evacuees, and mass casualties from the earthquake. There is a photo-illustrated pamphlet, which includes black and white images of the devestated areas. Also included is a copy of International Graphic Magazine, which includes reporting in Japanese as well as images from the disaster. This magazine appears to be missing its back cover. Two special issues of Daishinsai Shashin Gaho, from September and October 1923, include photo illustrations of destruction along with early attempts at rescue and recovery. Finally, the collection includes a folded color map of Tokyo and the affected area, and a scrapbook of newsprint and printed images from after the earthquake. The scrapbook has been bound as a folio, and its news articles are also in Japanese.

Administrative Information

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warning Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48 hours to retrieve these materials for research use.

Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library to use this collection.

warning Use Restrictions

The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library.

Contents of the Collection

18 postcards
Box 1
Daishinsai Shashin Gaho (Osaka Asahi Shinbunsha, Vols. 1-3., September and October, 1923.
Box 1
International Graphic Magazine, September/October Taisho^ 12 (1923)
Box 1
Daishinsai Shashincho illustrated pamphlet, 1923
Box 1
Taisho^ Daishinkasai Tokyo Panorama Chizu (folded color map)
Box 1
Scrapbook, 1923
Box 1

Historical Note

The Great Kanto earthquake struck the Japanese island of Honshu at 11:58 a.m. on September 1, 1923. With a magnitude of 8.3 on the Richter scale, the earthquake leveled Tokyo and the surrounding areas of Yokohama, Chiba, Kanagawa, and Shizouka. Along with the destruction of buildings and land, the earthquake resulted in widespread fires, as many people had been cooking their lunch around the time that the earthquake struck. A simultaneous typhoon in Northern Japan led to high winds that caused firestorms in cities across the region.

Estimated casualties from the earthquake and the resulting fires range from 100,000 to 150,000 people. About 2 million people were left homeless. Over the next several years, Tokyo was rebuilt with stricter safety standards, and more parks were added to offer open spaces as refuges. In 1960, the Japanese government declared September 1 to be Disaster Prevention Day.

Subject Headings

Related Material

Related Material

This material was acquired along with a book on the event, Taisho^ Daishin kasaishi, which is a circulating item at Duke's Lilly Library.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Kanto Earthquake Materials, Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, Duke University.


The Kanto Earthquake Materials were received by the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library as a purchase from the Boston Book Company in 2007. Its collector is unknown.

Processing Information

Processed by Meghan Lyon, February 2010

Encoded by Meghan Lyon, February 2010

Accession(s) described in this finding aid: 2010-0037

This collection is minimally processed: materials may not have been ordered and described beyond their original condition.

Descriptive sources and standards used to create this inventory: DACS, EAD, NCEAD guidelines, and local Style Guide.

This finding aid is NCEAD compliant.