The Kerns family had moved to the Philippines a few years before the invasion by Japan, inspired by tales of friends who had moved to the country for job opportunities and fell in love with the beautiful landscape. When the first attacks began in December 1941, Thelma and her daughter Karen attempted to seek safety in the capital of Manila but were caught in the middle of a warzone. Joined shortly by their husband and father, the family watched from the apartment of friends as Japanese soldiers entered the city shortly after Christmas 1941. They were interned in Santo Tomás Internment Camp a few days later and would remain imprisoned there until liberation in February 1945.
Recipe Books, c 1942
These recipe books were created by Thelma and her daughter Karen. As certain foods (and then food in general) became more difficult to find, some internees took part in "food fantasies," which included recipe collecting. Internees would discuss their favorite pre-war recipes and write them down on whatever spare paper they could find. The Kerns created five recipe books they donated to the MacArthur Memorial, made from notebooks originally set aside for then-12-year-old Karen's schoolwork.
Knitted Socks, c. 1944
This pair of socks was knitted by Thelma Kerns for her daughter Karen along with other undergarments. They are made from twine, as materials for making and repairing clothing were hard to find at this time.
Girl's Three-Piece Outfit, c. 1942
This set of clothes was made by Thelma Kerns for her daughter Karen when the family was interned in STIC. The red floral jacket was made of a repurposed slipcover for a piece of furniture. A matching square was sewn into the blouse as a faux pocket. Items like curtains and slipcovers were taken apart for cloth to make more needed items of clothing.