Japanese wood block prints

Identity elements

Reference code

MS 205

Level of description



Japanese wood block prints


  • 1830, 1910-1920 (Creation)


0.0625 cubic feet (0 box)

Name of creator


Administrative history

The McGovern Historical Center (MHC) is the historical and special collections department for The TMC Library. The MHC maintains rare book and archival collections. Artificial collections have been created to provide access to materials without clear provenance in order to increase discoverability.

The earliest acquisition records for the books in the MHC are found in the Houston Academy of Medicine’s (HAM) Library Committee reports for 1935 and 1936. Thirty Fellows of the Academy raised $300 to purchase a collection of 275 French medical books published between 1730 and 1830. In 1949, HAM and Baylor College of Medicine combined their medical libraries. In anticipation of the completion of the Jesse H. Jones Building for the library, the MD Anderson Foundation purchased the rheumatology collection of a New York physician, Dr. Reginald Burbank. This purchase was followed by a gift from the Cora and Webb Mading Foundation of more than 1,000 titles on sanitation and communicable diseases. After the 1954 dedication of the library building, many physicians donated books or historical pamphlets to be stored in a very small, locked room on the second floor. Soon after his arrival in Houston, Dr. McGovern became one of the Library’s most staunch supporters, annually supplying funds for the purchase of rare books and travel support for the librarians to attend meetings of the American Association for the History of Medicine. In 1977, The Library formed a new department with new quarters to collect historical materials and to enhance the rare book collections. In 1982, Dr. McGovern donated his personal collection of rare and historical books to the Library. In 1996 the Library’s Board of Directors named the historical department in his honor.

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

The Japanese wood block prints collection consists of Japanese woodblock prints that were acquired by the McGovern Historical Center over time. How the prints came to archive is uncertain. However, it the opinion of the archive staff that the prints were part of other Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission collections acquired by ABCC staff during their work in Japan. The prints lack provenance, but because of their cultural value the prints are being preserved. The collection contains one folder in the Small Manuscript Collection (SMS) oversize box.

There are three prints. “Plum Blossoms and Long Tailed Bird” by Utagawa HIROSHIGE (1797-1858), printed in 1830 in Edo period in the uyiko-e style and measuring 6 15/16 inches wide by 15 1/16 inches tall. HIROSHIGE is considered to be the last great artist in that style. This print is a polychrome woodblock print, in and color on paper.

The other two prints are in the Shin-hanga style, which is a style associated with prints produced around 1910 to 1920. They are from the famous Night Scenes series, characterized by the use of blue and black ink to create the night scences. The prints are known as “Lake Biwa,” depicting a small boat on Lake Biwa and “Ohashi Bridge at Atako,” depicting travelers crossing the bridge at night. The artist for both prints is Shoda KOHO (1878-1946). The prints measure 7.5 inches wide by 10.25 inches tall. They are referred to by collectors as (chuban-sized prints).

Subjects: Wood block prints, Hiroshige, Koho, ukiyo-e style, shin-hanga print, Ohashi Bridge, Lake Biwa.

System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use elements

Conditions governing access

No restrictions to access.

Physical access

The materials are in good condition.

Technical access

Conditions governing reproduction

Copyright restrictions may apply.

Languages of the material

  • Japanese

Scripts of the material

Language and script notes

Finding aids


Acquisition and appraisal elements

Custodial history


Immediate source of acquisition

Unknown. Possibly acquired through one of the ABCC-related donors.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information


No accruals are expected for this collection.

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Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

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Notes element

Specialized notes

  • Citation: Japanese wood block prints; MS 205; John P. McGovern Historical Collections and Research Center, Houston Academy of Medicine-Texas Medical Center Library. Please cite the box and folder numbers where appropriate.

Alternative identifier(s)



Description control element

Rules or conventions

Sources used

Archivist's note

Some documentation compiled by Philip Montgomery, 2015.

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Physical storage

  • Shelf: 1.17
  • Box: OV 066