Conducting the Research

[21 September, 2012]

 As I recall it was in about 1997 that I first gave thought to engage in a study of the relationship of the US Armed Forces with the war child of Korea in the years of the Korean War.  I began by doing the traditional library search at the library of Western Washington University.  Then I had the library borrow microfilm of the Pacific Stars and Stripes that was published in Japan and delivered to units in Korea during the years of the war and following. 


Using that microfilm was horrible as the film would often break as it was old and awkward to fit in the reader.  When I spotted an article dealing with children I would hit the 'copy' button and print out a copy of the page.  Not every issue was available on microfilm but I must have read almost a thousand issues of the Stars and Stripes.  Given the quality of the raw material it was impossible to get a decent copy of any photographs.


Now I was ready to go to Washington, D.C. to use the U.S. National Archives located in College Park, Maryland.  I had a buddy who lived not too far away and he let me stay at their home and loaned me one of their cars to commute to College Park and use the archives.  I took with me my lap top computer and a scanner.  I had written ahead to explain to one of the staff what I was looking for so when I arrived they had some material available for me to begin with.  I spent 8 days reading and scanning all that I could find on children, on orphanages, on orphans, mascots, etc, etc.  By the time I left I had upwards of a thousand pages of scanned material.


While in the area I drove down to Richmond, Virginia to the offices of the Christian Children's Fund which had been very active in helping fund orphanages in Korea during the war years and ever since.  I was given two very big boxes of archived material from the war years that was a mess.  I literally turned over every piece of paper in those boxes and was able to copy several hundred pages of material on the orphanages that the organization supported.  The organizational staff in Korea provided the home office a photograph of every child that they supported but not a single one was to be found in the archives.  I was there for about four hours and so did a very rush job but did come away with some valuable historical information.



Back in Bellingham I had to process all that information.  Every item had to be given an accession number. Everything collected in the National Archives was given a 'NAR-XXX' accession designation.   Since all the material was in a .jpg format I had to type by hand all the print material into a Word [.doc] format.  All the photographs had to be numbered and cropped.  Information that was on the back of the original photograph had to be typed and linked to the photo accession number with a lower case letter, e.g., "NAR-201a.doc."


I was able to get office help through a local work training office and was lucky to get the help of Mari Lawrence who was a skilled typist and already skilled in the use of the computer Microsoft Office programs.  Mark Moss, also a member of the Lummi Tribe, was the web master who put together the web site ""  I truly appreciate the two of these helpmates for doing those drudge tasks that evolved into the website, the photo exhibit and the booklet containing all this information.



Now I was ready to go to Japan to use the archive of the Pacifc Stars and Stripes which was still located in the same building in the center of Tokyo it had occupied since the occupation of Japan after the end of the 2nd World War.  Before my retirement from Western Washington University I had served as Chair of the Center for East Asian Studies and later as Special Assistant to the President for International Programs and then as Director of the Office of International Programs.  In those positions I had many interactions with our sister universities in Japan and was able to write to Asia University to inquire if they had some space where I could 'hang my hat' for 10 days while I did research in Tokyo.  They provided me with a small efficiency apartment free of charge for the duration of my stay. 


Each evening I would have a meal in a local restaurant then purchase a few items for breakfast the next morning.  Back in the apartment I would roll out the bed mat on the tatami mat, place the bedding and fall asleep.  The next morning I would be up by 6:30 a.m., wash up, have a bite to eat and then walk quickly to the train station.  I took one train and then transferred to another.  Then I got a bus to a point several blocks from the Stars and Stripes offices.  Travel time was one and a half hours each way.  I spoke no Japanese but was able to handle the fares and transfers with no difficulty.


Each day I took my lap top computer and scanner with me.  I was prescient enough to have brought a long extension cord and various plugs so I could use their outlets.  I got there when they opened the gate in the morning and left when they closed the building.  I was allowed to eat at the cafeteria where I had my big meal of the day... a mixture of Japanese and American food.  The archives consisted of envelopes placed in sections of file cabinets labeled 'orphans', 'refugees', 'adoption,' etc.  I copied everything that I could that related to the war orphans.  Frankly, the files were a mess but no one had the time to do a better job with that old material so I wadded through whatever the old Japanese archivist could locate for me.  I returned to Bellingham with thousands of scans of documents, newspaper clippings and photographs. Material gathered in Tokyo was indexed as "PSS-xxx" while the material that I had scanned from the microfilms was indexed as "SSS-xxx."


The web site was set up using the "Dreamweaver" format.  The original web site now has over 1,500 pages of photographs and written material.  Once Mark had shown me how to do it I then composed almost every one of those pages and placed them on the web site.  Way into the night I worked.  Mari prepared all the manuscripts in 'word' format but then I would put them into the html format and upload them to the web site.  That took years of effort but now it is done, except that now I am changing the format to a Joomla format and redoing the entire web site. 


The original web site was developed by accretion, that is, as things came in and as I had enough material for a new section we created one.   Now that the project is over 12 years old I can look back and see where I could have done things differently.  I also now have lots more to tell about the project, i.e., 'the story about the story.'  The Joomla format allows me to open the web site, sit at my computer and type in new material, push the 'save' button and it is posted on the web site!... as I am doing right now!