This is the second of our series of reports from graduate students working in US history who were awarded research funding from the Crane Fund, generously established by Professor Elaine Crane. This report is from PhD student Brandon Gauthier.
The generous assistance of the Elaine Forman Crane Research Grant enabled me to travel to College Park, Maryland in June and the Republic of Korea (ROK) in August to conduct research for my dissertation, entitled: “North Korea in the American Imagination, 1950-1996: Cultural, Intellectual, and Political Perspectives.” [Read on}
In College Park, Maryland, I researched declassified documents on US-DPRK relations at the National Archives II. I examined transcripts from Meetings of the Military Armistice Commission at Panmunjom—the venue for contacts between North Korean and U.S. military officials in Korea.
In South Korea, I worked at the ROK National Library’s North Korea Resource Center (국립중앙도서관북한자료센터) and the ROK Diplomatic Archives (외교사료관). At the North Korea Resource Center, I spent many hours examining old copies of Nodong Sinmun (로동신문)—the official newspaper for the Workers’ Party of [North] Korea—as well as English language sources from the DPRK, including the Pyongyang Times and Korea Today. My most revealing discovery came when I found a 1954 Nodong Sinmun article lauding the civil rights activism of Paul Robeson. My research at the Diplomatic Archives allowed me to examine Korean and English documents from the ROK Foreign Ministry that added invaluably to my dissertation. Many of those files included reports—put together by ROK diplomats—on how the American media portrayed South and North Korea amid new developments in East Asia during the Cold War. I was particularly interested to find copies of speeches from ROK diplomats in the United States defending the South Korean government, and emphasizing the threat of North Korea, during the era of Syngman Rhee and Park Chung-hee.
I am sincerely grateful to the history department and Dr. Crane for allowing me the opportunity to conduct this research.
– Brandon K. Gauthier