Tsuruko Haraguchi

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Tsuruko Haraguchi
Tsuruko Haraguchi, circa 1910.PNG
Haraguchi, c. 1909
Tsuru Arai

18 June 1886
Died26 September 1915(1915-09-26) (aged 29)
Academic background
EducationTakasaki Women's High School
Alma materJapan Women's University,
Teachers College, Columbia University
ThesisMental Fatigue (1912)
InfluencesMatsumoto Matataro, Edward Thorndike, Robert S. Woodworth, James McKeen Cattell
Academic work
Main interestspsychology

Tsuruko Haraguchi (Japanese: 原口鶴子, 18 June 1886 – 26 September 1915) was a Japanese psychologist and the first Japanese woman to receive a Doctor of Philosophy.

Life and career[edit]

Haraguchi was born Tsuru Arai (新井つる) in Tomioka in 1886. Her father was a wealthy farmer and she had two sisters. She attended Takasaki Women's High School, graduating in 1902, two years earlier than her classmates of the same age.[1] She enrolled at Japan Women's University in 1903 to study humanities in the Faculty of English Literature. At the time, women were not allowed to earn graduate degrees or beyond at Japanese universities, and higher educational institutions for women were not yet officially recognized.[2] Thus, when her mentor, the psychologist Matsumoto Matataro, encouraged her to pursue further education, she left Japan for the United States after graduating in 1906.

Studies at Columbia University[edit]

She entered the Teachers College of Columbia University in 1907 to complete a doctorate in psychology.[1] She focused on experimental psychology and pedagogy, and was taught by Edward Thorndike, Robert S. Woodworth and James McKeen Cattell.[3] She completed her thesis, titled "Mental Fatigue", in 1912, based on experiments on herself in which she multiplied four-digit numbers and translated sentences of John Dewey's writing. She received her doctorate on 5 June 1912, becoming the first Japanese woman to attain a PhD in any field.[1] She was married that same day.[1]

Later life in Japan[edit]

Haraguchi returned to Japan, where she expanded her doctoral thesis and translated it into Japanese. It was published under the title Studies on Mental Work and Fatigue in 1914.[2] She lectured at Japan Women's University occasionally and was involved in the establishment of an experimental psychology laboratory at the university.[1][3]

She also wrote a memoir, Tanoshiki omohide, "Pleasant memoirs", in 1915, in which she drew from her experiences studying at Columbia University to advocate for women's education and value.[4]

Personal life[edit]

Haraguchi married Takejirō Haraguchi, a Waseda University professor,[5] on 5 June 1912.[1] They had a son and daughter.[1]

Death and legacy[edit]

Haraguchi died of tuberculosis on September 26, 1915, at age 29.[1] Her last work, a Japanese translation of Francis Galton's Hereditary Genius (first published in 1869), was published posthumously in 1915.[1] A record of her experiences at Columbia University and her observations of cultural differences between Japan and the U.S., Happy Memories, was also published in 1915.[2]

Two documentaries have been produced about Haraguchi's life and work: The Life of Tsuruko Haraguchi (2007) and Psychologist Tsuruko Haraguchi: Memories of Her Days at Columbia University in the Early 1900s (2008).[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Takasuna, Miki. "Tsuruko Haraguchi (1886 - 1915)". American Psychological Association Society for the Psychology of Women. Retrieved 8 November 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d Jenkins, Amanda (2013). "Tsuruko Haraguchi". Psychology's Feminist Voices. Retrieved 8 November 2015.
  3. ^ a b "Japanese Psychologists: G–H". A Brief Guide to the History of Japanese Psychology. Oklahoma State Psychology Museum. Retrieved 8 November 2015.
  4. ^ Patessio, Mara (Dec 2013). "Women getting a 'university' education in Meiji Japan: discourses, realities, and individual lives". Japan Forum. 25 (4): 556–581. doi:10.1080/09555803.2013.788053. ISSN 0955-5803. Retrieved 23 December 2015 – via EBSCO's Academic Search Complete (subscription required)
  5. ^ Mulhern, Chieko Irie (1991). Heroic with Grace: Legendary Women of Japan. M.E. Sharpe. p. 214. ISBN 978-0-7656-3265-4.