Last Revision Date
Alice Pettee Adams came from Jaffrey, New Hampshire when she enrolled at the Bridgewater Normal School (now Bridgewater State University) in 1885. She graduated from the four-year program in 1889. In 1891, after a brief stint as a teacher and principal of a high school in her hometown, she went to Okayama, Japan through a Christian Missionary program. She originally had the ambition of dedicating ten years of her life to this social work/education endeavor. Rather than ten years, she went on to dedicate the rest of her life to helping the poor and impoverished in Okayama, Japan.
By the 1920s, her methods had proved so successful that the Japanese Imperial Government not only began to give her financial support, but also recognition. In 1928, Emperor Hirohito was formally enthroned, and at the accompanying festivities "Japan's mother of social service" was presented with a silver medal for her work. She would later be invited by and received in audience by the Emperor. Upon her final departure from Japan, after 46 years of sowing the seeds of social services and reform, she was awarded the Sixth Order of the Sacred Treasure by the Emperor. This award was presented for distinguished civil merit, seldom given to women and typically awarded posthumously. As The New York Times noted after her death in 1937, "Probably no other woman has received so many decorations from the Japanese Government."