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Opening the doors of history

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porter-helen.300History major took a circuitous path to a unique undergraduate research project exploring the complicated world of Okinawa in the 1950s.

The last thing Helen Porter expected when she came to UC Santa Cruz was to find herself in Japan researching the history behind 200 photos taken by an Army dentist.

But that’s where the San Francisco resident and dancer landed last year. Porter, a 22-year-old history major and Kresge College student who will graduate in June, was part of a unique undergraduate research project at UCSC, called The Gail Project, that is exploring the complicated world of Okinawa in the 1950s through a series of photos taken by a U.S. serviceman named Charles Gail.

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