Peace Studies and the Anti-War Movement: Collections
As the suffrage movement gathered momentum in the United States, the beginning of the First World War in Europe motivated many feminist activists to become involved in the growing peace movement. The primary source materials included in Gale’s Women’s Studies Archive are critical for scholars and researchers looking to better understand how the fight for women’s suffrage and global peace became deeply linked.
In January 1915, angered by the potential of the United States’ involvement in the European conflict, feminist peace activists, such as Jane Addams and Carrie Chapman Catt, organized a three-day conference in Washington, D.C., to discuss pacifism and the women’s rights movement. They believed that the involvement of women in politics and a move toward women’s suffrage were essential for the fostering of peace globally. They advocated for mediation to solve the conflict in Europe and for universal disarmament. The conference led to the establishment of the Woman’s Peace Party (WPP). The party’s platform explicitly advocated for the extension of voting rights to women, connecting the peace movement to the wider suffrage movement.
After the initial conference, members of the party, such as Lucia Ames Mead, were delegates to the International Congress of Women in the Netherlands. There, meeting with other feminist peace activists from the nations involved in the First World War, they set about establishing an agenda urging greater international cooperation, the right of women to choose their governments, mediation to end arms conflicts, and disarmament. As the women’s pacifist movement began to move toward greater internationalism, the WPP became the American affiliate of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. After the end of the First World War, the group continued to push for global disarmament, collecting 6 million signatures for a global disarmament petition brought to the League of Nations’ World Disarmament Conference in 1932. Throughout the twentieth century, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom continued to work toward advancing peace and women’s rights.