In his book "Witness to the 20th Century" Theodore McNelly presents an autobiography officially beginning with his birth in Wisconsin in 1919.

In fact, the time span he covers goes back even further. His grandfather, a missionary, taught at a school in Kanazawa in the 1890s, and McNelly's mother was born in Japan.

McNelly remarks in his book that, "Had it not been for my family connections with Japan and the outbreak of war with Japan, it seems unlikely that I would have acquired a life-time commitment to Japanese studies and political science.