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Van Zelst Family Collection

Identifier: RBSC-SPX-006

Scope and Contents

This collection provides documentation on the works of Un-ichi Hiratsuka and his family.  It also follows his family’s friendship with the art collector Theodore Van Zelst and his family.  This collection outlines Hiratsuka’s work in the United States and Japan through multiple exhibition catalogues and correspondence related to these exhibitions.  Documents in this collection include press releases, advertisements, catalogues, newspaper articles, posters, books, invitations, and a video tape.  There is also some information provided on his daughter, Keiko Moore (also a printmaker), and his granddaughter, Thalia Moore (a cellist).  This collection spans from 1959 to 2002. For more information concerning this collection, please see the Rare Books Van Zelst acquisition file.


  • created: 1959-2002
  • Other: Date acquired: 07/09/2002

Conditions Governing Access

no restrictions

Biographical or Historical Information

Un-ichi Hiratsuka was a master of Ukiyo-e, or Japanese woodblock printing.  Un-ichi Hiratsuka was born in 1859 and became a painting student in the 1910s.  Going through his studies he valued both the Modern Western art as well as the tradition Japanese Ukiyo-e printmaking.  He later trained under Igami Bonkotsu and his dual education and interests later led him to the Japanese Creative Print Society and the sosaku hanga (creative prints) movement.  This movement led to a revival of traditional Japanese printmaking mixed with a modern twist and a flair for personal expression. In 1962, he and his wife moved to the United States to live closer to their daughter, Keiko Moore, who lived in Washington D.C.  While in Washington, Hiratsuka began printing the scenery around him, full of high buildings and bridges, which would catch the eye of Theodore Van Zelst (who was an engineer involved in bridge design).  Van Zelst was so taken by Hiratsuka’s artwork that he soon accumulated a collection of his prints, along with corresponding to the Hiratsuka family, forming a life-long friendship.  Hiratsuka and his wife eventually moved back to Japan and Un-ichi Hiratsuka later died at the age of 102 in 1997.    For more information about Un’ichi Hiratsuka, please see the Rare Books Van Zelst acquisition file.

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2.00 Linear Feet

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Source of Acquisition

Theodore Van Zelst

Appraisal Information

Please see Van Zelst's acquisition file in Rare Books for appraisal information

Related Materials

Helen Merritt Collection in Regional History Center James D. Tobin collection in Rare Books and Special Collections department

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Repository Details

Part of the Northern Illinois University Repository

Founders Memorial Library
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb IL 60115 US