The Ainu and Ezochi Rare Collection is an online collection by the Library of Congress featuring materials related to Japan in the 18th and 19th centuries. The collection features a description page, describing the focus and scope of the materials included within it. In this case, the collection focuses on the expansion of the ethnically Japanese “Wajin” people into the northern islands of present day Japan (specifically the Hokkaido prefecture, and the Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands in Russia), which was the territory of the Ainu people. The expansion into and subsequent colonization of the Ainu territories combined with the lack of a written language of the Ainu people means that there are few early textual accounts of this culture; however, this collection documents the few that there are, as well as the Wajin perspective on Ainu culture as they expanded into their territory.

Beyond this collection, the Library of Congress website is an open-access resource available for students and teachers to browse. It boasts a wide selection of documents, many of which are free to use. These documents include photographs, books, films, web archives, legislation and more, from a range of subjects and time periods. The Library of Congress also offers some lesson plans making use of primary sources they host, a blog describing teaching methods, and other resources to enhance both the student and teacher experience. These resources, combined with its easy to use platform, make it, as well as this collection, great resources and guides for use in the classroom.

This collection is an excellent resource for students, as it is a self contained collection of sources, expanding the materials students may be able to find on their own, while also not becoming too overwhelming. It also may be used in the classroom as a way for students to learn critical historical thinking skills, such as how perspective may change the trustworthiness or meaning of a source.

Reviewed by Carolyn Mason, George Mason University
How to Cite This Source
Carolyn Mason, Ainu and Ezochi Rare Collection in World History Commons,