Cultural exchange

Special Collections and University Archives (SC/UA) documents the experiences of Americans abroad, focusing on Latin America and East Asia. Their contact with other cultures changed their world view and influenced those back at home.

Left: Sacheita Yokoi (1845-1877) and Daihei Yokoi (1850-1871), the first Japanese students to enter the Rutgers College Grammar School (source)


In the mid-twentieth century, there was disagreement among politicians, economists, diplomats and activists about the best foreign policy towards our neighbors to the south. The Monroe Doctrine and the “big stick” gave way to a policy of engagement through economic, political, and cultural development projects. In the environment of the Cold War, leaders were divided whether to support fascist dictatorships that took a strong stand against communism. Special Collections holds the papers of two individuals who tried to follow a “middle way,” opposing both fascist and communist regimes.

Frances R. Grant (1896-1993)

Human rights activist Grant served for thirty-five years as executive officer of an organization that publicized and supported a network of anti-communist liberals in both hemispheres.

Robert J. Alexander (1918-2010)

Rutgers professor Robert Alexander collected rich documentation of many debates in Latin American history. He was also an eyewitness to revolutions in Cuba, Bolivia, and the Dominican Republic.


William Elliot Griffis (1843-1928)

William Griffis was a Civil War veteran and graduate of the Rutgers Class of 1869. At Rutgers, he befriended some of the earliest Japanese students to study in the United States. After graduation, he worked for four years in a Japan that had recently opened to the West. He spent his life as a writer, speaker, and documenter of East Asia. His large collection of books, manuscripts, photographs, and ephemera came to Rutgers after his death.