Theresa Kaminski, Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, has concluded her Philippines trilogy with Angels of the Underground, to be published by Oxford University Press in December 2015. Her fascination with the experiences of women living under an enemy occupation stretches back to 8th grade English class where she first read Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl.
Years later, Theresa was captivated by the Masterpiece Theatre drama, A Town Like Alice, which centered on British women caught in Malaya by the Japanese occupation during World War II. After receiving her Ph.D. in History from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Theresa developed an interest in telling the stories of little-known American women as a way of illuminating major themes in American history. This led her to write about the American women who were caught in the Pacific Theater during World War II, and Prisoners in Paradise was published in 2000. That book contained the stories of many fascinating women, and one in particular stuck in Theresa’s mind. In crafting a historical biography of Ethel Thomas Herold in Citizen of Empire, Theresa explored why an “ordinary” American woman supported and participated in American imperialism in the Philippines, and how this led Ethel to endure three years in an Japanese internment camp.
Theresa thought she was finished with the Philippines at this point, and although she began researching a new, unconnected project, she could not forget the American women Margaret Utinsky and Claire Phillips who evaded internment during the war and did what they could to thwart the Japanese occupation of Manila. An out-of-the-blue e-mail from Jacqueline Flynn who asked, “Have you ever thought about writing….” launched the Angels project. Theresa continues to seek out the stories of the never famous, almost famous, or used-to-be famous American women to provide readers with unusual, fascinating glimpses into under-examined corners of history. She does this while teaching American history, watching lots of t.v. and Netflix, readings volumes of historical fiction, and occasionally walking her recalcitrant basset, Hugo.