James F. Downs Papers

Identifier: 99-38

Scope and Contents

The bulk of the James F. Downs Papers consists of Downs' published and unpublished writings, including articles written for both scholarly and popular journals, magazines, and newspapers; books and novels; and autobiographical short stories. His earliest paper is dated 1951; the latest 1994. There are also articles which are undated. Topics include many aspects of anthropology, from text books to applied research, and include the Washoe and Navajo Indians, Japan and Japanese-U.S. relations, the Navy, and inter-cultural issues.

There are few personal materials in the Downs collection; they include resumes and vitas for Downs and his company, International Bridge, Inc.; assorted clippings about Downs; obituaries; and correspondence written by Downs to his family in 1966-1967 while he was in India and Tibet on a research trip.

The collection also includes two series of articles and books written by other authors. Series 4 contains articles about the Washoe Indians and Africa by Dr. Warren D'Azevedo and a book on Mormonism by M.E. Mason. Series 5 consists of U.S. Navy procedure manuals and a magazine which features photos of Downs.


  • 1859-1999
  • Majority of material found within 1951-1999


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Materials must be used on-site; advance notice suggested. Access to parts of this collection may be restricted under provisions of state or federal law.

Biographical Note

James Frances Downs was born in Pasadena, California, in 1923. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and the Korean War and retired as a Chief Warrant Officer (3) of the United States Naval Reserve. He received a B.A. in Anthropology/Oriental Languages in 1958, an M.A. in Anthropology in 1960, and his Ph.D. in Anthropology in 1962, all from the University of California, Berkeley. He participated in post doctoral studies in Japanese and Chinese.

Downs taught anthropology at the graduate and undergraduate level at a number of major universities; developed training and educational programs for varying audiences, including Naval personnel and dependents, police officers, student nurses, U.S. government civilian personnel, Peace Corps volunteers, and corporate employees involved in international business activities (especially with Japan); and wrote at least eight books and over sixty articles for both academic and popular audiences.

Downs' thesis and dissertation were based on his studies of the Washo and Navajo Indians. Both were published:

Two Worlds of the Washo: An Indian Tribe in California and Nevada. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1966.

The Navajo. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1972.

Throughout his long career, Downs focused on inter-cultural issues and in particular, Japanese-U.S. relations. His academic writings reflect that expertise. He also wrote extensively for periodicals such as Japan Times, Agriculture Today, The NewYork Times, Daily Racing Form, Jockey News, Chronicle of the Horse, and California Thoroughbred. At the time of his death, Downs was researching the history of the horse in Japanese culture and had begun several novels and autobiographical articles.

Dr. Downs traveled, conducted research, and lived in Japan periodically from 1945 to 1992. In January 1992 he moved to Tokyo permanently to manage his international consulting firm, International Bridge, Inc. He was married to Shizuko Downs. James Downs died in Tokyo on June 11, 1999. For more biographical information about Downs, consult his extensive resumes in Series 1 of this collection.


1.5 Linear Feet (2 boxes)

Language of Materials



Included are resumes for James F. Downs and his company, International Bridge, Inc.; obituaries; letters by Downs written in India while on a research expedition to Tibet; unpublished articles and books on anthropological topics, Japanese-U.S. relations, and horses in Japan; articles by Downs' former professor, Dr. Warren L. D'Azevedo; and U.S. Navy training manuals, mostly historic in nature (1859-1999). Downs taught anthropology at the graduate and undergraduate level at a number of major universities.


Arranged into the following series: 1) Personal Materials; 2) Unpublished Articles and Novels; 3) Published Articles and Books; 4) Articles by Dr. Warren D'Azevedo and Others; 5) U.S. Navy Publications

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Shizuko Downs in October 1999.

Separated Materials

Photographs transferred to the photographic archives of the Special Collections Department as collection number UNRS-P2008-07. Three books received in the collection about Japan transferred to the Special Collections book stacks.


Guide to the James F. Downs Papers
Susan Searcy
October 8, 1999
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Nevada, Reno. Special Collections Department Repository

Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center
1664 N. Virginia St.
Reno Nevada 89557-0322 USA
775-682-5724 (Fax)