- Freedom and Food: The MacArthur Memorial Internment Camp Collections
- Fredrickson Collection
This collection was donated by the family of Jane Doner Fredrickson. Jane Doner was 17 years old when her family was imprisoned in the internment camps of the Philippines during the Japanese occupation of WWII. Her parents “Faye” and Landis Doner were teachers who had come to the Philippines in the 1920s to teach and raise a family, which included Jane and her younger sister Katherine. Her father eventually left teaching to start a plantation for copra and cassava (native produce) on the island of Mindanao. Living in the Cebu province, the family was imprisoned in the Cebu Junior College, which was turned into a prison camp for Allied civilians. Later, the family would be transferred to Santo Tomás Internment Camp as the Japanese administration attempted to consolidate the smaller outlying camps into the larger ones near the capital. The Doner family remained at Santo Tomas until liberation in 1945.
Rice Bowl, 1943
This rice bowl was used by Jane at Santo Tomás. It has her name inscribed on the side. Rice was the food staple of the internment camps, eaten as is but also added to stews and soups, and ground into meal or flour for baking. A rice porridge called lugao was served for breakfast and was usually watery. The quality of rice the internees were served was not the best; one work duty was to sort through the rice to remove chaff, debris, and bugs before it was cooked.
Green dress, 1944
This green dress belonged to Jane Doner. According to a note written by Jane inside the collar, it was made by her mother while they were imprisoned in one of the camps in 1944, probably Santo Tomás. Fabric and other materials to make and repair clothing would have been extremely difficult to find around this time.
Bakŷa, c. 1943
Bakŷa or bokia are traditional wooden sandals worn in the Philippines, at their most basic a wooden sole with a single strap across the toes. They were adopted by the internees living inside the camps for a few reasons. Without the means or ability to purchase replacements or repair broken ones, bakŷa became the choice of footwear because they were easy to make, easier to find, and easier to repair. They were often worn as shower shoes in the community bathrooms but were also worn to help keep dry while walking through the wet grounds in the humid, hot environment. One internee, Robert Wygle, became a repairman for bakŷa, writing that his fellow internees came to him continuously to fix the straps that wore down quickly during work duties.
Hand Mirror, c 1941
This small hand mirror was brought into the internment camp by Jane from home. She hung it on the wall of her sleeping quarters so it could be shared with her roommates.
Coconut Shell Belt, 1942-1945
Jane noted in her diary that small, handmade accessories became part of the "fashion" inside the prison camps. Coconuts were a common food for internees. They were squeezed for their milk as a substitute for animal milk and added along with the meat to baked goods or rice porridge. The shells were used for handmade items like this belt, which was also painted with scenes from the Philippines.
According to a note from Jane, this handkerchief was made for her birthday in 1942 by a fellow internee named Grace Rigby while they were both at the Cebu Junior College Internment Camp. Grace was later transferred to Santo Tomás. She passed away there in 1943.
Sandalwood Fan, c. 1942
The spines of this fan were signed by friends of Jane Doner and her family while in the internment camps. In the MacArthur Memorial Collection, there are other objects bearing the names of internees, including shirts and handkerchiefs embroidered with names and autograph books.
These items were collected by Jane during a 1986 visit to the Philippines. They were taken from locations that had some special meaning to her time there (left to right): stones and shells taken from the beach at Leyte where the returning Allied forces under General MacArthur made their landing in 1944 and pieces of wall from Malinta Tunnel and from a torture cell on the island fortress of Corregidor whose fall marked the end of Allied defense in 1942. In the decades after the end of WWII, many former internees have made return visits to the Philippines and have strived to memorialize the experiences they and their loved ones went through.