Rachel Pistol

 Rachel Pistol
Student at Royal Holloway, University of London

The Friendly Hand has been so wonderful that I'm happy to be involved in anything that assists them.

I have been fortunate enough to have obtained two grants from The Friendly Hand which have helped me carry out invaluable research for my PhD. The focus of my thesis is the experiences of those interned in the United Kingdom (Germans, Austrians, and Italians) and the United States of America (mostly Japanese and Japanese Americans) during the Second World War.

During my first trip in 2010, I travelled to America and was able to visit three of the former internment camp sites. The former internment camp sites are located in inhospitable and remote places and so without funding from The Friendly Hand such a trip would have been impossible. To experience the hostile climates of each camp and discuss with local curators how the sites are being maintained for future generations has contributed greatly to my understanding of this traumatic period of history. I also examined some of the archival material relating to Japanese American internment housed at UC Los Angeles and UC Berkeley.

The largest collection of material pertaining to Japanese American internment is housed in the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley and so I spent a prolonged period of time at the Bancroft Library in 2011, again funded by the Friendly Hand. Without access to the primary source material at the Bancroft it would have been impossible for me to have made any great inroads into this important area of history.

Besides giving me access to the source materials essential to my subject, the two trips have enabled me to make contacts with former internees themselves and link with the National Park Service, who maintain the sites as they stand today. Such links will enable me to go even deeper into my subject area and produce research that will assist the commemoration of an episode of history that is highly relevant in today's world.