Robert Hewson Pruyn: An Albanian in Japan, 1862–1865

November 21, 2012–December 21, 2021

This library exhibition will feature highlights from the Albany Institute's collection of private papers from Robert Hewson Pruyn (1815–1882). Pruyn was appointed the second U.S. minister to Japan by President Abraham Lincoln on October 12, 1861, under the recommendation of Secretary of State and former New York Governor William H. Seward. The papers include exceptionally detailed and descriptive weekly correspondence with his family that recount his travels, his audience with the Japanese Tycoon, and the travails of his diplomatic mission in Japan during the Bakumatsu era. The exhibition includes some of the earliest photographic views of Yedo (Tokyo), c. 1860; diplomatic ephemera; accounts and maps of the Battle of Shimonoseki; pressed flowers, ferns, and leaves; invitations, cards, programs, and announcements for social events; the account book for Pruyn's household expenses; as well as documents in pre-Meiji Japanese.