RG 407 The Philippine Archives Collection


The Philippine Archives Collection is a group of records that constitutes an invaluable source of information on the Pacific war, particularly concerning the treatment of prisoners of war (POWs); military operations in the Philippines, 1941-1942; guerrilla warfare in the Philippines; and conditions in the Philippines under Japanese occupation. These records showed the shortage paper on the Philippines from 1941-1945. They are on brown paper bags, on the back of letters, sales receipts, court documents, school forms, ledger book papers, milk can labels and similar items. Some of the records retrieved in 1945, show the effect of being buried to prevent capture during the war.

The Philippine Archives Collection documents the activities of the Southwest Pacific Area (SWPA) and its component parts but the primary focus is not at the command level but at the level of the individual men and women who served in military or civilian capacities or in guerrilla units in the Philippines during the SWPA control. Among the records are personal histories and diaries; unit histories; medical and death reports; documents on activities within guerrilla units and criminal behavior by guerrillas; and accounts of the effort to liberate the Philippines from Japanese control.

In June 1945 the U.S. Recovered Personnel Division (RPD), Armed Forces in the Pacific (AFPAC), began its mission to locate, recover and take care of U.S. and other Allied military and civilian personnel who had been captured by the Japanese. They were also required to gather personal information on civilians employed by the Army during the war, Army personnel, guerrillas and POWs. Awards of claims of compensation were limited to individuals who had supported U.S. objectives in the Philippines. A key factor in determining eligibility was an individual’s service records – veterans of the Philippine Army, Philippine Scouts, or guerrilla units that were recognized by Gen. Douglas MacArthur. In the course of its investigations, RPD created or acquired a record of an individual’s military or civilian participation in the war and on outlaw and non-recognized guerrilla groups.

In November 1945, the second phase of RPD’s mission extended its mission to cover Philippine Army personnel and recognized guerrilla units. This extension provided pay and benefits to civilian and military personnel who were unavoidably away from their duty posts either because they were POWs, mission in action, in casualty status, or had an otherwise acceptable reason. To qualify for benefits, applicants were required to establish membership in the Philippine Army or one of the recognized guerrilla units. This increased the number of claims for recognition. More than 350,000 were interviewed; and their claims processed, validated, and sent to the Philippine Army finance office for payment.

The Philippine Archives Collection is composed of 1,665 boxes and is located at the U.S. National Archives, College Park, Maryland (NARA). It is in a deteriorating state with some records illegible and still having a rusty pin or clip attached or sewn together with crumbling thread from the time they were submitted. Some folders had dead insects and dirt in them.

The Philippine Archives Collection is divided into the following records.

  • Invasion and Surrender
  • Civilian Employees
  • POWs/Civilian Internees
  • Japanese Occupation
  • Guerrillas
  • United States Armed Forces in the Far East
  • Liberation/Post-War Era
  • Recovered Personnel Division
  • Claims