Jame J. Halsema Collection of Philippine History

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The James J. Halsema Collection of Philippine History
Record Group – 105;
Papers of James J. Halsema. The James J. Halsema Collection of Philippine History

The MacArthur Memorial is proud to announce the opening of the James J. Halsema collection. Collections like these are rare, and it is a great privilege to house the Halsema Collection in the MacArthur Memorial Archives and Library. Comprised of over three thousand books, two thousand maps, and the personal papers of James J. Halsema, this is a unique collection of the entrancing yet turbulent history of the Philippines.

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The James J. Halsema Collection - Photo of the execution of a Philippine insurrectionist - ca 1898.
Within the collection were the papers of Mr. J. Heilbronn, who was reputed to have been the first American to land in the Philippines in the Spanish-American War.

The photo of the execution of a Philippine insurrectionist was included, ca. 1898

James J. Halsema was born in the United States on January 1st, 1919, yet he spent the majority of his formative years in the Philippines. His father, E.J. Halsema, was the colonial mayor of the resort town of Baguio, known as the summer capital of the Philippines. E.J. Halsema was also the man that introduced Douglas MacArthur to his future wife, Jean Marie Faircloth, on the SS Hoover in 1935. James attended Brent School in Baguio nearly continuously until his graduation in 1936, when he set off for Duke University. In the summer of 1940, Halsema returned to the Philippines and became the editor of the Baguio edition of the Manila Daily Bulletin, an American-owned newspaper in the Philippines. Halsema was in Baguio when the Japanese invaded the Philippines in late December, 1941.

Along with the rest of the allied civilians in the Baguio area Halsema was incarcerated in the civilian internment camp at Camp Holmes. He spent three and a half years in captivity and endured torture at the hands of his Japanese captors. He was liberated in Manila along with the rest of the Baguio civilian internees at the old Bilibid Prison in February 1945. His internment was only a small chapter in his life.

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 Invitation to the inauguration of President Quezon in 1935
Collection includes priceless memorabilia like this invitation to the inauguration of President Quezon in 1935

James J. Halsema led a full and interesting life. After the war he took a job with Associated Press. In the summer of 1949 he married Margaret Alice Cleveland with whom he had six children, and earned his Master’s Degree in International Relations from Johns Hopkins University. That same year, Halsema began working with the United States Information Agency (USIA) as a Political Affairs Officer. He served in Singapore, Manila, Cairo, Chile and several other places before his retirement in April of 1979. In retirement, Halsema generated several books and articles about his father, his schooling, and the American era in the Philippines. James J. Halsema passed away on February 18, 2005.

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The James J. Halsema Collection - A library of over three thousand books of Filipiniana.
A library of over three thousand books of Filipiniana.

James Halsema’s extensive collection of books, maps, and papers donated to the MacArthur Memorial is indicative of his lifelong attachment to, and affection for the Philippines. He collected anything concerning the history of the archipelago, its many native peoples, its culture, and its literature. His near three thousand volume collection ranges from World War II history to novels set in the Philippines; from hotel pamphlets to telephone directories; from scientific books like Tropical Blossoms in the Pacific to government printings of official rulings. Cataloguing and indexing of the library has been completed and it is now open for use. The MacArthur Memorial wishes to thank Mrs. Alice Halsema, Mr. Paul Halsema, Mr. Lou Jurika, Miss Sherri Barnes and Miss Laura Nogrady for all their help in making this collection available to the general public.

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The James J. Halsema Collection - Here Halsema is seen at the MacArthur Memorial in 1994 with former
Halsema’s massive collection of correspondence includes many former Philippine Guerrillas, Prisoners of War, and Veterans of the Japanese Internment Camps.

Halsema is seen at the MacArthur Memorial in 1994 with former guerrilla Lt. Col. Edwin Ramsey and his wife.