In September, the Hoover Institution Library and Archives received a large donation of World War II–era research materials from Roger Mansell, a retired businessman from Palo Alto, California, who has spent the past twenty-one years researching the fates of Allied prisoners of war from the Pacific theater of that war. Consisting of more than fifteen linear feet of documents, some fifteen hours of video recordings, and approximately four hundred published titles, the Roger Mansell Collection will be a valuable resource for those interested in studying the roles of prisoners of war during that conflict.
Since the beginning of Mansell’s project, his chief goal has been to compile a database of more than 100,000 records to document what happened to every Allied soldier who was captured by Japanese forces during the war. The database thus contains information on when soldiers were captured, where they were interned, and whether they died or were repatriated at the end of the war.
As one result of his research, Mansell has helped several families locate the remains of soldiers who were missing in action during the war; he has also frequently been consulted by researchers around the world seeking information about individual soldiers or the camps in which they were interned. He estimates that his project is approximately 90 percent complete, and, although he has retired from the actively compiling the database, the project is being continued by his colleagues, who can be contacted via the reference department of the Hoover Institution Archives.
Among the materials that Mansell has donated to Hoover are dozens of firsthand interviews conducted by Mansell with former prisoners of war or their families; more than twelve boxes of material about various prison camps throughout East and Southeast Asia; and countless files on individual prisoners, including diaries, photographs, maps of prison camps, correspondence, and other materials that former prisoners shared with Mansell over the years. Other research materials collected by Mansell include copies of archival documents from repositories in the United States, Great Britain, and Australia, as well as original materials produced or published by the prisoners themselves. In addition, many of the donated books include hard-to-find titles, such as self-published memoirs by former prisoners of war and other materials produced for limited circulation.
Throughout his project, Mansell repeatedly stressed that he wished the information he collected to be shared as freely and widely as possible. With the donation of his research materials to the Hoover Institution, he has ensured that his collection will reach a wide audience indeed.