Stephanie D. Bangarth, Ph.D. candidate
Department of History
University of Waterloo, Canada
My dissertation research explores the roots of human rights advocacy in North America by comparing the wartime and post-WWII actions of two advocacy groups in Canada and the United States that acted in response to the internment of the Canadian and American populations of Japanese descent. Both the Cooperative Committee for Japanese-Canadians (CCJC) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), can be viewed as examples of early human rights activism in North America. In both countries, 'rights' are a matter of considerable controversy, and nowhere is this more evident than in the case of the internment of North America's citizens of Japanese ancestry by governments that were supposedly committed to democratic ideals. The attacks by the CCJC and the ACLU on the internment and (in Canada) the deportation policies symbolized the renewed interest in egalitarian rights which had already begun to emerge during WWII and which suffused much of the human rights activism in subsequent years. I argue that the internment and deportation struggles marked the beginning of a new era of respect for human rights in Canada and the United States.
With the assistance of a Princeton University Library Short-Term Fellowship funded by the Friends of the Princeton University Library, I have made considerable headway into the vast archival volumes of the ACLU collection which is housed in the Mudd Manuscript Library. The richness of the Mudd Library's holdings in this regard cannot be overestimated. Neither can the knowledge, the helpfulness, and the professionalism of its staff. With their help, I have been able to expand the scope of my inquiry to include the manuscript collections of Roger Nash Baldwin, Osmond K. Fraenkel, Arthur Garfield Hays, Peggy Lamsden and Dorothy Keeley, all of whom were once members of the ACLU. Before engaging in my research at Princeton, I was unaware that these holdings were, in addition to the ACLU Papers, available at the Mudd Manuscript Library. This incredible find has added enormous value to my research. The premise of my inquiry is centred on the underlying assumptions held by members of the ACLU and the CCJC about those of Japanese ancestry in North America and how they perceived the 'problem' of the internment. Why, moreover, did they get involved? The answer to this question, at least in the case of the ACLU, is now much better supplied from six manuscript collections instead of just one. The very fact that these additional sources are housed in the same research institution is also a financial and highly convenient windfall.
My experience as a Friends of the Princeton University
Library Fellow has been a completely positive one. Furthermore, I believe
that due to the incredible dimension of the library's holdings, as well
as the assistance from the staff of the Mudd Manuscript Library, my
research, and ultimately, my doctoral dissertation, will be the better