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. 

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The internationalism of the WPP wasn’t the only ideology working toward suffrage and pacifism. Activists in the temperance movement in the United States, such as Hannah Johnston Bailey, were also involved in the struggle for equal rights and peace. The Women’s Peace Union was another organization, noted for its more radical stances and ideologies in comparison to groups like the WPP. The Women’s Peace Union hoped to add an amendment to the U.S. constitution outlawing war.  

To explore the work of women activists in the peace movement and their organizations, such as the Women’s Peace Union, the Woman’s Peace Party, and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, throughout the twentieth century in more detail, these collections in Gale’s Women’s Studies Archive are essential resources. 

  • Anna Garlin Spencer Papers, 1878‒1931

    Anna Garlin Spencer was a minister, feminist, educator, pacifist, and writer on ethics and social problems. She dedicated her life to social reform and was active in the cause of women’s rights for more than 40 years. Her interest in pacifism led to prominent positions in the cause for peace, including with the National Arbitration and Peace Congress and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, as well as being a founding member of the Woman’s Peace Party in 1915. The papers featured in this collection include correspondence and writings by Spencer as well as biographical and family material.

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  • Collected Records of the Woman’s Peace Party: 1914–1920

    Founded in 1915 by Jane Addams and Carrie Chapman Catt, the Woman’s Peace Party (WPP) advocated continuous mediation to end the war, as well as women’s suffrage. In 1919, the WPP became the U.S. section of WILPF. The collection includes files from 1914 to 1920, over half of which consist of WPP correspondence. National office correspondence illustrates the WPP’s coordination with other peace groups and its work across the United States, including opposition to school physical education classes emphasizing military training, involvement in the Ford peace expedition, work with conscientious objectors, and involvement in food relief after the United States entered the war. State-level materials include records of the Massachusetts branch’s conferences and study courses and the New York group’s periodical, Four Lights. The remaining materials are administrative and historical records from the national office and several state branches, including board minutes, speeches, resolutions, member lists, financial information, reports, press releases, clippings, and periodicals.

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  • Edwin Doak Mead & Lucia Ames Mead Papers, 1876‒1936

    Edwin Doak Mead and Lucia Ames Mead were leading pacifists, writers, and social reformers of the United States and international peace movements. Edwin Mead directed the work of the World Peace Foundation and participated in many international peace congresses, as well as being an American delegate to the International Peace Bureau, a prominent member of the American Peace League, and one of the founders for the School Peace League. Lucia Ames Mead was a leading member of many feminist and pacifist organizations, including the Woman’s Peace Party; was a delegate to the founding conference of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) in 1919; and served as a vice president on the board of the National Council for Prevention of War. She was also an officer of the National Council of Women of the United States and was a member of many U.S. feminist associations. Edwin Mead’s papers include correspondence with many peace leaders, such as Andrew Carnegie, alongside manuscripts, printed articles, clippings, and memorials issued after his death. The papers of Lucia Ames Mead consist of her diaries, notebooks, and correspondence with numerous organizations, including the WILPF, the Women’s Peace Union (London), and the American Woman’s Republic. Many manuscripts and printed versions of her articles, pamphlets, book reviews, and newspaper clippings are included.

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  • Hannah Clothier Hull Papers, 1889‒1958

    Hannah Clothier Hull was one of the founders of the Woman’s Peace Party and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), serving as their national officer for nearly 40 years. She was active in a number of other social reform movements, including women’s suffrage, women’s rights, and temperance. The collection features correspondence, both personal and professional; articles and manuscript notes; alongside biographical material, such as family papers and photographs. A large part of the material focuses on Hull’s work in the peace movement, including correspondence with other Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom members, financial statements, press releases, and documents of the League. Her interest in women’s rights is represented by items on women’s suffrage, correspondence on WILPF relations with the National Council of Women of the United States, and material on women’s movements in China and India.

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  • Hannah Johnston Bailey Papers, 1858‒1923

    Hannah Johnston Bailey was a Quaker pacifist, suffragist, reformer, and temperance leader. She was the superintendent of the Department of Peace and Arbitration of the national Woman’s Christian Temperance Union from 1887 to 1916, president and superintendent of the Woman’s Temperance Publishing Association, and an officer in the Universal Peace Union. An active participant in the suffrage movement, she was also interested in the influence of militarism on children, the reform of women’s prisons, the abolition of capital punishment, and women’s missionary work. The collection includes personal papers, correspondence, diaries and journals, published and unpublished articles, biographical information, and memorabilia, alongside material on Bailey’s work with the national and world Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, the National Council of Women, and the financial and legal papers of the Woman’s Temperance Publishing Association. Correspondents and others in this collection include Cora Slocomb di Brazzà Savorgnan (Countess di Brazza), Alice May Douglas, Anna Gordon, Lucia Ames Mead, Anne Sturges Duryea, and Frances Willard.

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  • Lydia G. Wentworth Papers, 1902‒1947

    Lydia G. Wentworth was a writer and ardent peace advocate. She carried on prolific correspondence and contributed hundreds of articles to newspapers and magazines, despite illness leaving her bedridden. Many of her articles were used as editorials or printed in leaflet form and distributed to peace societies. Wentworth believed that socialism and pacifism were synonymous and urged women to play a role in promoting peace both by seeking election to public office and by becoming leaders in the peace movement. Wentworth was on the advisory committee of the Women’s Peace Society and was a member of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the Association to Abolish War, and the Boston League of Women Voters. The papers featured in this collection include correspondence with many friends and peace movement colleagues, newspaper editors, and organizations, as well as manuscripts, printed articles, and poems.

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  • Records of the Women’s Peace Union: 1921–1940

    Founded in 1921, the Women’s Peace Union (WPU) consisted of suffrage leaders and pacifists who advocated for the total elimination of war. The materials in this collection consist of administrative records and correspondence dating from the organization’s founding through its gradual dissolution, around 1940. The majority of the collection is correspondence, with an abundance from the first decade of the WPU’s existence. Administrative records include meeting minutes from 1922 to 1939, press releases, and form letters. Other documents include literature and bulletins; speeches; newspaper clippings; peace plans; petitions; and materials relating to congressional hearings and resolutions, especially regarding the Frazier Amendment. Correspondence with North Dakota Senator Lynn Frazier, mostly from 1926 to 1931, illustrates the group’s close collaboration with the senator. There are also letters to and from other individuals, including Senator Robert La Follette Jr. and Hungarian pacifist and suffragist Rosika Schwimmer. Other correspondence involves pacifist groups no longer in existence, institutions such as churches and colleges, and events such as Mobilization Day.

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  • Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom: United States Section, 1919–1959

    The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) is an international organization founded in 1919. The U.S. section had begun as the Woman’s Peace Party in 1915. The historical records, correspondence, and serials in this collection give insight into the organizational history and mission-related work of the U.S. section of WILPF. Historical records make up more than one-third of the materials and include complete sets of handbooks, annual meeting information, national board minutes and resolutions, and anniversary celebration documents from 1920 to 1959. Committee and fieldwork files cover topics such as U.S. imperialism and disarmament, conscientious objectors and refugees during World War II, and postwar reconstructions and UN monitoring. Literature files include public-facing materials, such as pamphlets and speeches, and materials for members, such as form letters. Over half the collection comprises WILPF national office correspondence from 1919 to 1955. There are also nearly a dozen periodicals issued by WILPF, including yearly branch letters from 1922 to 1959.

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