- October 14, 1979
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Biographical / Historical
Jacob Van Staaveren (April 9, 1917 - July 4, 1999) was a historian and author who grew up in Portland, OR. He received his bachelor’s from Linfield College and his master's from the University of Chicago in 1943. He took courses at the Oriental Institute at Chicago and soon became aware of job opportunities in Japan, taking a job with Civil Affairs while he was doing Ph.D. work at the University of Chicago. He arrived in Japan in 1946 and worked in the Civil Information and Education Section of the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers. While in Japan, Van Staaveren worked with the Yamanashi Military Government Team to inspect schools in the area to make sure there was no resurgence of militarism. He stayed with this job for two years before leaving to continue his work at the University of Chicago in 1948. He soon left again for Japan when he got an offer from Civil Services to work as a historian in the Economic Affairs Division to write about the history of the occupation. He went on to work as the historian for the Fifth Air Force during the war in Korea and then for the Far East Command and United Nations Command in the Military History Liaison Office in Tokyo until 1956. He soon after moved back to the United States and resided as historian of the Office of Air Force History for more than twenty years until his retirement in 1981. On July 4, 1999, Jacob Van Staaveren passed away at the age of 82. A day after his death, he was posthumously honored with Japan's prestigious Noguchi Prize for his book about his time in Japan titled, "An American in Japan, 1945-1948: A Civilian View of the Occupation."