- 1885-1931 and undated.
Language of Materials
Conditions Governing Access
1 collection (.1 linear feet (1 box))
Correspondents include Henri Bergson, Phillips Brooks, T. S. Eliot, William James, Bertrand Russell, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, and George Santayana.
Biographical / Historical
After completing his Ph.D. studies in Germany with a thesis entitled “Erktennis-Theorie und Causalität,” he returned to Harvard, where he continued to pursue his studies and spent two years teaching as an Instructor of Anthropology and Philosophy. He developed an interest in Indic philosophy, which led him back to Europe to study under Paul Deussen (1845-1919), one of the founders of Indic studies in Europe. Woods would later translate into English Deussen’s magisterial System des Vendanta, the first comprehensive presentation of an Indian philosophical system to be published in the West. After further study in India at Benares and in Kashmir, he returned to Harvard in 1903 and was appointed to the Department of Philosophy, first as Instructor, and then Professor of the Philosophical Systems of India. He remained in the department until his retirement in 1934. During this time, he served as the Chair of the Division and Department of Philosophy from 1915-18, 1920-27, and 1930-33. He published numerous translations of Pali and Sanskrit scriptures, as well as works of secondary scholarship that include Practice and Science of Religion: A Study of Method in Comparative Religion (1906) and Integration of Consciousness in Buddhism (1929).
Woods’s interest in Buddhism led him into the study of East Asia, and he made several extended trips to Japan during his years on the Harvard faculty. He actively promoted the development of academic positions dedicated to the study of East Asia, and succeeded in securing funds for the temporary appointments of Professors Anesaki (1913-15) and Hattori (1915-16), who taught the first classes on Japanese history and culture ever offered at Harvard. He also worked to establish a permanent chair in Chinese, which was first filled by Chao Yuen Ren in 1922. His greatest success, however, came from working in tandem with Wallace Donham and others to secure funding from the estate of Charles Hall for the founding of the Harvard-Yenching Institute, for which he served as a trustee. Although Woods passed away before the Department of Far Eastern Languages was established, he helped to provide the institutional and intellectual backing that became the framework for its success.
(Text adapted from the Harvard University Dept. of East Asian Languages and Civilizations website.)
Immediate Source of Acquisition
2013M-88. Purchased with funds from the Amy Lowell Trust, 2014 February 28.
- Woods, James Haughton, 1864-1935, recipient. Letters to James Haughton Woods, 1885-1931: Guide.
- Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
- Description rules
- EAD ID
Part of the Houghton Library Repository
Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, literary and performing arts archives, and more. The library's holdings of primary source material are managed by an expert staff and shared with scholars, students and the public in the reading room.
Cambridge MA 02138 USA