Skip to main content

Arthur R. Dornheim Collection

Identifier: COU:538

Scope and Contents

The Arthur R. Dornheim Collection was organized in the same manner in which it was received. I. BOULDER CAMPUS contains the JLS memorabilia, newspaper clippings, and photographs of the JLS and Boulder area. II. JICPOA consists of JICPOA memorabilia and a photograph of Hugh Mitchell in Dornheim and Mitchell’s room at Makalapa BOQ JICPOA. III. GUAM OPERATION contains Dornheim’s detachment orders for the Guam Operation in 1944. IV. POST NAVAL PERIOD includes Arthur Dornheims “Reflections” on His Boulder Experience & Questionnaire, an account of his post-Boulder career, newspaper clippings, materials on the 1976 Boulder Reunion, and materials on the 1981 Washington D.C. technology exchange symposium.


  • Creation: 1942 - 1944

Biographical Note

Arthur R. Dornheim was born in New York City on March 12, 1921. In 1925 he moved with his parents and sister to the suburb of Bronxville, New York. Dornheim attended school in Bronxville and graduated in 1938. He attended Yale University, majoring in international relations, and graduated in 1942. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Dornheim enrolled into a Japanese language class in place of an international economics course. In March 1942, Dornheim was recruited for the US Navy Japanese Language School located at the University of Colorado.

After graduating from JLS in 1943, Dornheim was sent to JICPOA in Pearl Harbor where he served primarily as a translator of captured Japanese documents. But in May through August of 1944, Dornheim was detailed to the forces assigned to recapture Guam. He flew to Guadacanal to join the command ship Appalachian. In June 1944, Dornheim delivered sacks of orders to naval units at Espiritu Santo and Efate. He returned to his ship and was sent to Kwajelein. At Kwajelein, Dornheim was reassigned as interpreter to the attack transport Ormsby, which was detailed to accept any POWs captured on Guam.

In August 1945, Dornheim left JICPOA for home leave and reassignment to the Office of Naval Intelligence in Washington. In October he took assignment in Tokyo. He was assigned to the Shipping Control Authority, Japanese Merchant Marine (SCAJAP). As a part of this, Dornheim worked to provide ships for coastal trade of Japan and to repatriate approximately six million Japanese from places in Asia and the Pacific. In February 1946, he started working for the Language Reform Section in SCAP’s Civil Information and Education Division, with the intentions of inducing the Japanese to write their language in English letters. By May 1945, the Civil Information and Education (CI&E) leaders converted the Language Reform Section into the Language Simplification Section, concluding that any active pursuit of reform was inadvisable. Language Reform Section realized that this was a futile attempt. Dornheim left Japan in July and was demobilized in October 1946.

In early 1944, Dornheim finished a 70-plus page translation of a notebook kept by a Japanese ensign killed on Tarawa. Proud of it, he kept it. About twenty years ago, he thought the ensign might have some relatives who would like to have a copy. Within a month our embassy had located his 100-year-old mother and younger sister taking care of her. The sister particularly was delighted to learn what her brother had need doing during the War. A vigorous correspondence ensued, leading to her visit to Dornheim in November 1944 or 1945.

Dornheim then matriculated at Columbia University’s School of International Affairs. He received his master’s degree in June 1948 and worked for two months at the French Groupement D’Importaation et Repartition des Metaux, which used Marshall Plan funds for its purchases. Following this, Dornheim entered the State Department’s Office of Intelligence Research, Division of Research for Far East (DRF) China Branch. Dornheim was married to Charleen Egan in July 1952, who also worked at DRF. Their first son, Michael, was born in November 1954 and their second son, Daniel, in December 1962. Dornheim became a Foreign Service Officer in 1956, which he retired from in 1977, after serving abroad in Hung Kong, Ethiopia, and Taiwan, along with three posts in Washington.

Following his retirement, Dornheim became executive director of the Japan America Society of Washington. He organized numerous programs to improve public understanding of Japan and to arouse the interest of members in the Society. In 1981, Dornheim organized a one-day symposium on the exchange of technology between Japan and the United States. After retiring from the Japan America Society, Dornheim became the treasurer of Far East Luncheon Group and of the Maryland chapter of the Foreign Affairs Retirees Association. In 2000 he organized a reunion of former State Department DRF intelligence researchers.


.25 linear feet (1 Box )

Language of Materials



The Arthur R. Dornheim Collection contains the papers of Arthur R. Dornheim, who graduated from the US Navy Japanese Language School, which was located at the University of Colorado in Boulder from 1942-1946. The collection consists of memorabilia and photographs of JLS, wartime, and post-War years. Dornheim was assigned to JICPOA in Pearl Harbor for two years but in 1944 was detailed to escort Japanese prisoners captured on Guam back to Pearl Harbor. Dornheim also served in the Occupation of Japan in SCAJAP and the Language Reform Section, CI&E.


This collection is arranged into the following series:


Processed by Sarah A. Johnson, January 2001 Reformatted by Winglam Kwan, February 3, 2004 Edited by Sarah E. McSweeney, June 2007 Reedited by Poojashree Tandukar, December 4, 2012
January 2001
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries, Rare and Distinctive Collections Repository

1720 Pleasant Street
184 UCB
Boulder Colorado 80503 United States