The Bender Library of American University in D.C. holds over 30 linear feet of archival material related to Washington, D.C. Women Strike for Peace from 1961 to 2000. Featured in the records are legislative and administrative paperwork, subject files, and papers concerning activities in the 1980s and the closure of the National Office.
Of particular note are 4 boxes of FBI documents detailing surveillance of Women Strike for Peace from 1961 through 1970, with the sheer number and content of agents’ field reports demonstrating the scale of the investigation into WSP’s activities.
Swarthmore College Peace Collection
The largest collection of archival material on Women Strike for Peace is held in the fantastic Swarthmore College Peace Collection, a huge repository of original documents. The SCPC houses the papers of numerous individuals and organizations involved in the US peace movement, notably the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILFP). It has materials on pacifism, women and peace, nonviolence, civil rights, and various other reform movements. Over half of the collection documents women’s prominent role in the peace movement.
The Swarthmore College Peace Collection is the official repository for WSP’s papers. The bulk of these records were donated by Amy Swerdlow, a prominent WSPer from New York who dedicated her later academic career to writing and researching the history of Women Strike for Peace. The archives contributed much to her definitive study of the group, Women Strike for Peace, which was published in 1993.
The records relate to National WSP, California and New York area WSP, and smaller branches including Washington, D.C. WSP and Philadelphia WSP. They contain meeting minutes from the National Steering Committee, the National Consultative Committee, the National Board, and annual conferences from 1962-1983. Additionally, you will find copies of the national newsletter Memo, internal and external correspondence, transcripts of speeches, and handwritten notes from key women such as Dagmar Wilson and Ethel Taylor.
This really is the go-to resource for scholars of Women Strike for Peace.
University of California-Berkeley
UC Berkeley’s collection of Women for Peace records consists of nearly 24 feet of archival material donated by WFP and WILPF activists Hazel Grossman and Alice Hamburg. Housed in the Bancroft Library, it is one of the most substantial collections of WSP-related archival material outside of Swarthmore, detailing Bay Area activism organized by both the WILPF and WFP as well as the activities of individual members from 1943 onwards. Numerous campaigns are covered in the collection including the nuclear test ban protests, anti-Vietnam War activism, draft resistance, arms control agreements, legislative endeavours, and activities for political candidates.
The Bay Area records provide an alternative insight into WSP’s activities beyond the epicentre of the Northeastern US. It illuminates the work conducted by WSPers on the West Coast, broadening the scope of WSP’s history to allow for a truly national overview of the group’s campaigns.
Wisconsin Historical Society
This is an unexpectedly insightful collection of materials held at the Wisconsin Historical Society in Madison (but searchable through the library catalog for the University of Wisconsin, Madison). Much of the records are suspected to have been gathered by founding member Eleanor Garst around the time she wrote a draft history of WSP in the late 1960s, with later accessions up to 1982. In large part, the materials relate to the activities of the Washington, D.C. branch, with correspondence, committee and activity files, clippings, and printed and near-print material relating to WSP opposition to the arms race, the Cuban Missile Crisis, a peace pilgrimage to Rome, meetings in Geneva, and the Vietnam War. Records of the two HUAC investigations into WSP are also included, along with Dagmar Wilson’s correspondence, speech notes, and biographical data.
The drafts of Eleanor Garst’s history of Women Strike for Peace are especially interesting. Written at the height of the organisation’s activities by a founder member, Garst’s take on WSP’s activism is especially insightful and offers a number of divergent opinions and assessments from what other WSPers thought of their past. These drafts are a must-see resource.
Another illuminating collection of papers at the Wisconsin Historical Society. Donna Allen helped found Women Strike for Peace in 1961 and became a famed feminist and civil liberties leader in the United States. This collection documents her involvement in WSP, the National Conference for New Politics, and he Washington Mobilization Committee, among various others. The majority of the collection covers 1964-1968, including her leadership of the National Committee Against Repressive Legislation and her confrontation with HUAC in 1965.
Also in the file are a number of records concerning fellow WSP founding member Margaret Russell.