Friday Finds: A Stitch in Time

Thursday, January 10, 2013
Apron with embroidered signatures of Santo Tomás internees, Roger Mansell collec

How do you sign your name without a pen? Try a needle and thread! The Roger Mansell collection contains material on prisoners of war (POWs) in the Pacific theater of World War II, including unpublished memoirs by ex-POWs, rosters, copies of government documents, photographs, and the hand-embroidered apron seen here. The apron is dated January 19, 1942, seventeen days after the Japanese forces occupied Manila and took over the University of Santo Tomás, transforming it into a civilian internment camp. The signatures likely belong to internees who worked in the kitchens of the Santo Tomás Internment Camp. By the time the camp was liberated in February 1945, its population had grown to nearly four thousand.

In addition to this embroidered piece, internees produced newsletters, wood carvings, poems, and diaries documenting their time at Santa Tomás, Los Baños, and other internment camps in the Philippines. Click here to see a list of collections at the Hoover Institution Archives relating to the Philippines in World War II.

Roger Mansell's book Captured: The Forgotten Men of Guam was edited by historian Linda Goetz Holmes and published in November 2012 by Naval Institute Press.