Skip to main content

John Perry Papers

Call Number: MS257

Scope and Contents

This collection contains the papers of John Curtis Perry, a professor of East Asian and Maritime Studies at Tufts University from 1980 to 2015. He founded both the North Pacific Program, which ran from 1985 – 1997, and the Maritime Studies Program at Tufts University. The Maritime Studies Program is documented in this collection, as are his many connections to students and colleagues from East Asia and the United States, formed during the North Pacific Program or by his own research interests. Independently of the two programs, Perry traveled frequently to East Asia both for personal reasons and for research, trips are detailed in this collection by correspondence and travel arrangements. This collection also contains the records for visiting researchers and lecturers from the North Pacific. As a leader in the field of East Asian Studies, Perry’s papers include drafts and correspondence regarding his published works and his reviews of other books in the field. Materials date from the 1950s through the 2010s.  


  • Creation: circa 1951 -- 2014



This collection contains some restricted material. Restrictions related to specific material are listed in the detailed contents list.

Conditions Governing Use

Some material in this collection may be protected by copyright and other rights. Please see “Reproductions and Use” on the Digital Collections and Archives website for more information about reproductions and permission to publish.

Biographical / Historical

John Curtis Perry (1930-) was the Henry Willard Denison Professor of History at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy from 1980 to 2015. He focused on East Asian and Maritime Studies during his career.

John Perry was born on July 18, 1930 in Orange, New Jersey. He grew up near Washington, D.C. and in New York, where he graduated from the Friends Seminary School. Due to his proximity to the capital during his childhood, Perry was able to work as a messenger boy for the Chinese embassy. He attended Yale University, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Chinese Studies in 1952 and a Master of Arts in Foreign Area Studies. After serving in the US Army in Japan in the 1950s, Perry pursued his PhD in history at Harvard University, earning it in 1962.

Perry began his teaching career at Connecticut College in 1962. In 1966, he was offered a position at Carleton College in Minnesota, where he remained until he was offered a research fellowship at Harvard from 1976 until 1980. After this return to the Boston area, he accepted a position at Tufts University’s Fletcher School in 1980, where he remained until his retirement in 2015.

In 1985, he founded the North Pacific Program, which brought ten to fifteen students from Tufts to some part of the North Pacific, usually Eastern Asia, for a yearly summer seminar. This program brought together students from Mexico, the United States, Canada, the Korean peninsula, China, Japan, and the Soviet Union/Russia for lectures and seminars, which prompted students to discuss “the cultural, economic and political trends of the participating countries” throughout history. In 1991, Perry received an imperial decoration, the Order of the Sacred Treasure, from the Japanese Government for his work with Japanese-American relations.

In 2000, the John Curtis Perry Fellowship was established to aid one Fletcher student with an interest in East Asian studies and policy. Colleagues and alumni, created the fellowship fund in Perry’s honor and encouraged others to donate.

In addition to his work at Tufts, Perry also founded the Institute for Global Maritime Studies, a publicly supported educational non-profit. According to their website, one of the organization’s responsibilities is to “research the various roles of the ocean as an avenue for the flow of goods, people and ideas; as an arena for combat and struggle; as a source of foodstuffs, energy, and minerals; and as a stimulus for creativity and recreation.” Perry has served as a board member for the organization since its foundation in 2008.

In 1957, Perry married Sarah Hollis French. As of 2019, they have five children and ten grandchildren.


3.4 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



This collection contains the papers of John Curtis Perry, professor of East Asian and Maritime Studies at Tufts University from 1980 to 2015 and founder of both the North Pacific Program and the Maritime Studies Program at Tufts University. The collection includes correspondence, reports, maps, and other materials.


This collection is arranged in one series.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of John Perry, 2018, accession number MS-2019-042.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Darcy Foster and Leah Edelman in 2019. Materials were placed in archival boxes if the original housing was damaged, and loose materials were placed in folders where needed. Received rough chronological order was maintained. A file level inventory was created via spreadsheet and imported, and series and collection level descriptions were created at the time of processing.

Repository Details

Part of the Tufts Archival Research Center Repository

35 Professors Row
Tisch Library Building
Tufts University
Medford Massachusetts 02155 United States