Timeline

1961

August 13
On Sunday morning, the German Democratic Republic begins construction of the Berline Wall

August 30
After three years of multilateral negotiations towards a nuclear weapons test ban, USSR announces its intention to resume atmospheric weapons testing.

September 1
First weapons test conducted by USSR breaks the three year global moratorium.

September 15
United States resumes nuclear weapons testing  under Operation Nougat.

September 21
First exploratory meeting of Women Strike for Peace takes place in Dagmar Wilson’s living room. In attendance are Jeanne Bagby, Anne Bloom, Mary Chandler, Folly Fodor, Eleanor Garst, Margaret Russell, Lawrence Scott, and Mary Sharmat.

September 29
Washington Post notes a scheduled meeting of “Women’s Strike for Peace” is due to take place that night in the Washington Post Community Room.

October 26
Activists hold a preliminary meeting at the Jewish Community Center in Washington, D.C. 300 attend.

October 30
USSR tests the Tsar Bomba, a 50 megaton nuclear device – to date this is the largest nuclear explosion in history. Worldwide condemnation ensues alongside global antinuclear protests.

November 1
WSP’s first nationwide “Strike for Peace” takes place. Reports of the day claim that “50,000 women in 61 communities” took part in various activities, although the number may be lower.

1962

January 15
Large demonstration held in the rain in front of the White House. News reports that nearly 2,000 activists traveled from New York, Philadelphia and Trenton to join Washington, D.C. WSPers. After the demonstration, President Kennedy tells a news conference that he “saw the ladies myself [through the window]” and that “their message was received.”

March
50 members of Women Strike for Peace from across the United States travel to Geneva to confront negotiators at the Seventeen-Nation Committee of Disarmament.

June 8-10
First annual national conference of Women Strike for Peace takes place in Ann Arbor, MI. 82 representatives from 12 states are present. Delegates finalized a “Statement of Principles” and grappled with the group’s official stance on civil rights.

August 6-9
Commemorations are held to mark the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

October 16-28
13 days of the Cuban Missile Crisis. WSP protests appeals for a peaceful resolution to the crisis outside of the White House.

November 11-13
Members of WSP face the House Un-American Activities Committee over accusations of supporting communism. The performance of those subpoenaed are lauded by journalists, with Dagmar Wilson’s testimony on the final day of the hearings coming in for particular praise. WSP ultimately defeats the charges. Amy Swerdlow writes about the affair in ‘Ladies’ Day at the Capitol: Women Strike for Peace Versus HUAC,” Feminist Studies, Vol. 8, No. 3 (Autumn, 1982), pp.493-520.

1963

June 6-9
Second annual national conference is held in Champaign, IL.

August 5
Following years of negotiations, the Partial Test Ban Treaty (Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space and Under Water) is signed by the governments of the USSR, US, and UK. The treaty takes effect in October, 1963, and is seen as a significant success and validation of WSP’s efforts.

1964

June 4-7
Third annual national conference takes place in Winnetka, IL.

August 2
First alleged confrontation between USS Maddox and North Vietnamese boats in the Gulf of Tonkin

August 4
Second alleged confrontation between USS Maddox and North Vietnamese boats in the Gulf of Tonkin. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara claimed in The Fog of War that this second incident may not have occurred. Nevertheless, the two instances of supposed North Vietnamese aggression provided the pretext for greater US military intervention in Vietnam.

August 10
The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, passed by Congress on August 7, is enacted. It grants President Lyndon B. Johnson the authorization to assist “any member or protocol state of the Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty” with military force without a formal declaration of war. Ultimately, this signified carte blanche for military operations to protect South Vietnam and signalled the start of the Vietnam War.
1965

March 16
Founding member of Detroit Women for Peace, Alice Herz, commits the first self-immolation in America to protest the initiation of Operation Rolling Thunder bombing operations in Vietnam. She dies 10 days later on March 26. Although an unprecedented act, her actions receive little contemporary or historical attention

October 21-24
Fourth annual national conference in San Francisco, CA. The confernece sees Women Strike for Peace formally adopt a resolution opposing the war in Vietnam as an official national policy plank.

1966

November 17-20
Fifth annual national conference held in Chicago, IL.

1967

September 21-23
Sixth annual national conference takes place in Washington, D.C.

1968

November 8-11
Seventh annual national conference takes place in Winnetka, IL.

1969

October 17-20
Eighth annual national conference held in Philadelphia, PA.