Elizabeth Gordan Griffin Papers

1918, 1932, 1942-1969
Manuscript Collection #416
Griffin, Elizabeth Gordan, 1890-1968
Physical description
0.22 Cubic Feet, 123 items , including correspondence, financial records, affidavits, typescripts, newspapers, and miscellany.
Preferred Citation
Elizabeth Gordan Griffin Papers (#416), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
ECU Manuscript Collection
No restrictions

Papers (1918, 1932, 1942-1969) including correspondence, financial records, affidavits, typescripts, newspapers, and miscellany.

Biographical/historical information

Miss Elizabeth "Lizzie" Gordan Griffin was born January 23, 1890, in Elizabeth City, N.C. An Episcopalian, she was appointed treasurer of the Missionary District (Diocese) of the Philippine Islands on February 10, 1931, and was working in Manila in 1942 when she was interned as an "enemy alien" by the invading Japanese army. Miss Griffin was one of approximately 7,000 non-combatant Allied citizens (mostly American and British) confined as "civilian internees" throughout World War II at Camps Santo Tomas and Los Banos in Manila. After both camps were liberated by U.S. forces at the end of the war, Griffin returned to the states briefly before resuming her work in the Philippines. Upon her retirement in 1955, she moved back to New Bern, where she died September 25, 1968.

Scope and arrangement

Although the majority of the collection focuses upon Griffin's internment in Los Banos, much information pertaining to life and conditions in both camps is included. Correspondence (1942-1943) concerns Miss Griffin's capture and treatment in the internment camp and efforts of the U.S. Department of the State and the National Council of the Protestant Episcopal Church to exchange the internees. Letters written by Miss Griffin upon her release (1945) reveal details of her rescue by American forces, her reflections on life in Los Banos, and her return to New Bern.

Correspondence and legal papers (1945-1951) document Miss Griffin's efforts to secure reimbursement for personal losses incurred in the Philippine Islands because of the war.

Additional material pertains to the work and internment of missionaries and the war in the Pacific. A file of financial material consists of unused war ration stamps, utility bills (1941-1945), and a receipt for money Miss Griffin tendered the Administration Committee of Los Banos Internment Camp. Affidavits (1951) pertain to purchases made by the Missionary District of the Philippines in 1942 and conditions in Manila during the period of internment. Information sheets for internees returning to the United States (1945) are also included. Also in the collection are Miss Griffin's speech to the youth of New Bern (1963), a typescript speech outlining the history of the Philippine Islands and missionary work there (1960), and a program (1954) for the unveiling of the Los Banos Internment Camp plaque. Printed material includes newspaper clippings concerning Manila (undated), issues of Manila Free Philippines (Feb.-Apr., 1945), copies of the newsletter of the USS EBERLE (Apr., 1945), articles in the New York Times (1945), and miscellaneous clippings pertaining to Miss Griffin. Two books, How We Took It (1945) and Santo Tomas (1946) discuss the internment camps.

Several documents, articles, and typescripts relate vital statistics and career activities of Miss Griffin.

Six items pertain to Ellegood Vaughn Griffin, a private in the 1102nd and 638th Aero Squadrons of the American Expeditionary Force during World War I. His letters (Aug.-Sept., 1918) written at St. Maixent, France, briefly describe camp life, St. Maixent, and the area.

For related material, see collection #Mf. 16.

Administrative information
Custodial History

July 24, 1980, 120 items; Papers (1942-1968) of Episcopal missionary to the Philippines, including correspondence, affidavits, property schedules, clippings, ships newspapers, and miscellaneous. Gift of Mrs. V. W. Herlevich, Wilmington, N.C.

Source of acquisition

Gift of Mrs. V. W. Herlevich

Processing information

Processed by S. Morgan, February 1983

Encoded by Apex Data Services

Copyright notice

Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.

Key terms
Personal Names
Griffin, Elizabeth Gordan, 1890-1968
Corporate Names
Episcopal Church--Missions--Philippines
Los Baños Internment Camp
Santo Tomas Internment Camp (Manila, Philippines)
Concentration camps--Philippines
Women missionaries--Philippines
World War, 1914-1918--Personal narratives
World War, 1939-1945--Philippines