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Dr. Sidney L. Gulick

Dr. Sidney Lewis Gulick (1860-1945) was an American missionary. Beginning in 1888, after graduating from Columbia Theological Seminary, he worked for 25 years in Matsuyama, Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan. During his time there, he grew to understand and appreciate Japanese culture, and he became fluent in reading, writing, and speaking the Japanese language.

Poor health necessitated Dr. Gulick's return in 1913 to the United States, where he found both American attitudes toward Japan and conditions between the two countries worsening steadily. Japan suffered an economic depression before the Great Depression hit the United States, and many Americans were concerned about labor and economic problems that might result if large numbers of Japanese, fleeing conditions at home, were to come to America. Several Immigration laws passed between 1907 and 1924 made it virtually impossible for Japanese to enter the United States.1 Dr. Gulick continued to work throughout his life for better understanding and acceptance of Japan and its people through writing and lectures. As quoted by his grandson, Sidney Gulick III, he wrote: "I am as truly a missionary working for Japan as if I were in Japan.2"

Since adult sentiments were so difficult to change in the face of the circumstances, he was encouraged by the idea that children could be brought together in goodwill and friendship before their attitudes became hardened. With this beginning, perhaps as adults they would be able to build better relationships among nations based on understanding and peace. Dr. Gulick was one of the founders of the Committee on World Friendship Among Children, and he conceived the friendship doll exchange as one way to bring the children of America and Japan closer together3.


Sidney Gulick III

Sidney Lewis Gulick III is the grandson of Dr. Sidney L. Gulick. After taking 2 new dolls to a school in Kyoto, Sidney Gulick III said "By the expressions of excitement and love on the faces of the children as they received and held the new dolls, we knew immediately that we should begin a new doll mission.4" Sidney Gulick III and his wife, Frances, believe that it is still important to promote international understanding, and to that end, since 1986, they have carried on the tradition, continuing to send friendship dolls to schools in Japan, with passports, letters of introduction, and clothing and accessories made by Mrs. Gulick.

He Saw the Need for Understanding

Dr. Sidney L. Gulick

Dr. Sidney L. Gulick


1 Gulick, Sidney L. Toward Understanding Japan: Constructive Proposals for Removing the Menace of War,The MacMillan Company, New York, 1935, pp. 92-104.

2 Nishimura, Kunio "The Friendship Dolls," Look Japan, July 1995, available on-line at http://wgordon.web.wesleyan.edu/dolls/media/magazine/lookjapan.htm (2002-10-04).

3 Apparently, the Friendship Doll program was effective in promoting this attitude in American and Japanese children. Dolls of Friendship (The Committee on World Friendship Among Children, The MacMillan Company, New York, 1935) provides several examples of letters written by children which indicate that the message was received and embraced. As an illustration, the following is an excerpt from a 'thank-you' letter written by a fifth-grade Japanese girl: "...Dear American children, we shall not forget you, even in our dreams. This doll is a messenger of peace...we children in America and Japan are really brothers and sisters." (p. 69)

4 Nishimura, Kunio "The Friendship Dolls," Look Japan, July 1995, available on-line at http://wgordon.web.wesleyan.edu/dolls/media/magazine/lookjapan.htm (2002-10-04).

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