Born in New Zealand in 1907, Bill Holland first traveled to Japan at the age of 21 to take part in the conference of the Institute of Pacific Relations, beginning over thirty years of association with the organization. During his time at IPR, Holland held a number of leadership positions, including Research Secretary (1933-1944), Secretary-General (1946-1960), and editor of its periodicals Far Eastern Survey and Pacific Affairs. He took leave from the IPR twice: to study for a MA in economics under John Maynard Keynes at Cambridge (1934) and, during the Second World War, to become acting director of the Office of War Information in Chungking, China. Founded on an internationalist philosophy as a forum to discuss relations between Pacific nations, the IPR was targeted under the McCarthy-era McCarran act during the 1950s, accused of Communist sympathies. After political pressure led the IPR to disband in 1960, Holland accepted a position on faculty with the newly created Department of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia (1961-1972), helping to lead that department to international prominence. He remained in BC until the death of his wife Doreen in 1990, after which he settled in Amherst to live with his only child, Patricia G. Holland. Holland died in Amherst in May 2008.
The Holland Papers are a dense assemblage of correspondence of Bill Holland, his wife Doreen, and their family, from his first trip abroad in the 1920s through the time of his death. Although largely personal in nature, the letters offer important insight into Holland’s travel in pre-war Asia, his work with the IPR, the war, and the of the 1950s. The collection also includes a wealth of photographs, including two albums documenting trips to Japan, China, and elsewhere 1929-1933.
The collection is open for research.
Background on William L. Holland
William Lancelot Holland was born in South Malvern, New Zealand in 1907, the oldest of four sons. He came from humble beginnings: his father was a railroad worker and he worked on sheep stations to support himself. While at Canterbury College, a professor recommended that he work at a conference put on by the Institute of Pacific Relations (IPR) in Japan. So began a more than thirty year association with the organization, serving in various roles: as Research Secretary (1933-1934), Secretary-General (1946-1960), and editor of its periodicals Far Eastern Survey and Pacific Affairs. Holland twice took leave from the organization: in 1934 to pursue a degree in economics at King's College, Cambridge University under the tutelage of John Maynard Keynes, and from 1944-1945 to serve as acting director of the Office of War Information in Chungking, China.
The IPR was immensely important as a forum to discuss the internationalist approach to understanding political relations of the countries around the Pacific Rim. Long before the Far East became a part of the common consciousness as a result of the Pacific Theater in World War II, the IPR advocated increased understanding of Asian-North American relations through rigorous scholarly pursuit. Because of its internationalist philosophy and supposed pro-Communist leanings, the IPR came under attack by Alfred Kohlberg and Joseph McCarthy and was formally investigated under the McCarran act in the 1950s. In 1955, the institute lost its tax exempt status, and it subsequently engaged in a five-year political battle to regain its status. Though the IRS eventually ruled that the IPR was not guilty of spreading any partisan-propaganda, the drain on funds due to taxes and legal fees caused the IPR to disband in 1960. However, they continued to separately publish Pacific Affairs, the institute's journal, with Holland serving as editor until 1978. Pacific Affairs is published to this day.
Upon leaving the Institute in 1960, Holland became head of the newly-created Asian Studies department at the University of British Columbia. Holland led the growth of the department into one of the pre-eminent Asian Studies departments in America. In 1972 he achieved the title of Professor Emeritus, while in 1989 the University Awarded him an honorary Doctorate of Laws due to his contributions to the field of International Law. Holland lived in British Colombia until 1990, when he left after the death of his wife, Doreen. He reloacted to Amherst, Massachusetts to live with his only child, Patricia G. Holland. William L. Holland died at the age of 100 in 2008.
The Holland papers are a rich assemblage of materials from the life of William Holland, largely correspondence between William and his wife Doreen, as well as the rest of their family. The collection spans from his first trip abroad in the late 1920s until the time of his death. Largely personal in nature, this collection offers insight into the personal aspirations and motivations of William Holland, as well as frank recollections and descriptions of his experiences as leader of the Institute of Pacific Relations. Topics that receive particular attention are Holland's travel in pre-war Asia, day-to-day work at the IPR, the Second World War and the war in Korea in the 1950s.
The collection also includes a wealth of photographs, including two albums documenting trips to Japan, China, and other countries later in Holland's life, as well as some photos from his first trip to Asia between 1929-1933. Of particular note are two photograph albums of tours of Japan and China in the early 1930s, and a packet of personal images taken at the Japanese surrender of Nanjing, 1945. The collection also includes an album composed of farewell notes given to Holland on occasion of his departure from the IPR in 1960; contributors to this album include Abe Fortas (Supreme Court Justice), Ralph Bunche (Nobel Peace Prize Laureate) and Phillips Talbot (U.S Ambassador to Greece), among others.
Valuable audio recordings focused on Holland's career and his experience with the Institute of Pacific Relations include personal reminiscences, extensive interviews with historians Paul F. Hooper and John F. Howes in the late 1980s, and an oral history of Holland and his wife Doreen conducted by their daughter Patricia G. Holland. Also recorded are lectures delivered by Holland at the University of British Columbia in 1973.
Gift of Patricia Holland, May 2013.
Processed by I. Eliot Wentworth, June 2013.
Selected material in the collection has been scanned and are available online through our digital repository, Credo.
Additional materials on William L. Holland and his career can be found in several archives, including:
Cite as: W. L. Holland Papers (MS 782). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.