Gleaning from the Archives of the Pensionado Story

From 1903 to 1943, over 14,000 Filipino scholars were sent to the United States to study under a U.S. colonial scholarship called the Pensionado Program. The story of the program was documented in 1943 by Kenneth Munden, Assistant Archivist in the Division of Interior Department Archives, at the behest of the office of the Secretary of the Interior, which was then charged with investigating U.S. overseas territorial policies. The report was based almost entirely on the records of the former Bureau of Insular Affairs of the War Department. In his foreword to Munden’s report, Herman Kahn, Chief of the Department of Interior Archives, praised the work as a valuable resource for “historical investigations in the field of American colonial policies.” This Scalar Project annotates Munden’s report. I frame this work as an act of gleaning that harvests seemingly trivial pieces of information in the report and adding exposition through rich footnotes drawn from extant scholarship and personal narratives and illustrations. The goal is to reorient and reanimate the Pensionado story and thereby critique the racist discourses subtending the Pensionado program, which were left implicit in Munden’s document.

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