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Zen Buddhist teacher and author of "The Three Pillars of Zen." Born in New Haven, Connecticut, Kapleau was a chief court reporter for the Nuremberg Trials and also covered the Tokyo War Crimes Trials. While in Japan for the trials, he met and was influenced by D.T. Suzuki and other Zen practitioners, which led him to become a serious student of Zen in Japan. Eventually, he returned to the United States and founded the Rochester Zen Center (New York) in 1966. Most of the papers relate to Kapleau's role as a Zen teacher, to his writings, and to personal concerns such as his health and Parkinson's disease. Some of Kapleau's notes are written in shorthand, and there are some materials in Japanese. The recorded teishos (dharma talks) were mainly recorded during sesshin (retreats) and span 30 years. According to the tape labels, there are various speakers including Kapleau, Toni Packer, and Bodhin Kjolhede (all of whom led the Rochester Zen Center at different times).

Papers related to Kapleau's role as a Zen teacher, to his writings, and to his personal concerns such as his health and Parkinson's disease. He corresponded with students and Zen practitioners all over the world and kept copies of his responses. There are a few notable letters from the 1950s, one from D.T. Suzuki and one from Hakuun Yasutani (written to Kapleau's sister Jean Kapleau). Many of the letters are from people who learned about Kapleau by reading his book, "The Three Pillars of Zen." Other letters pertain to the Rochester Zen Center (New York) and many other Zen centers. The subject files contain articles (many that are written by others), clippings, newsletters, and notes related to politics, animal rights, religion, environmentalism, Zen workshops, psychotherapy, travel, and health and diet. Some of Kapleau's notes are written in shorthand and there are some materials in Japanese. The recorded teishos (dharma talks) were mainly recorded during sesshin (retreats). According to the tape labels, there are various speakers including Kapleau, Toni Packer, and Bodhin Kjolhede (all of whom led the Rochester Zen Center at different times).