By Chris Densmore, Curator of the Friends Historical Library
As you walk into McCabe Library, there is a wooden bench and a photograph of the Longwood Progressive Friends Meetinghouse near Kennett Square immediately to your right. The bench is from Longwood. Longwood’s annual meeting, beginning in 1853 and ending in 1940, was a chance to discuss a broad range of reforms. Sojourner Truth attended the organizational meeting in 1853. At a later meeting, she gave a very terse testimony on her peace principles: “You can’t make life, so don’t take it.” So the bench in
foyer of McCabe may have been sat in by Sojourner Truth.
The last clerk of Longwood was Jesse Holmes, a Swarthmore College professor. Jesse Holmes gave the opening address at the 1927 annual meeting of Longwood saying, “The chief peril to civilization today is found in the arrogance and aggressiveness over the white race toward the colored races and weaker nations.”. The sale of the Longwood meetinghouse funded the Jesse Holmes Lectureship at Howard University.
Next, there is the Elizabeth Powell Bond Rose Garden. Her brother was Aaron M. Powell, the last editor of the National Anti-Slavery Standard. He began speaking out on slavery after attending an anti-slavery meeting where Sojourner Truth walked down from the podium, pointed directly to the young Aaron M. Powell, and told him he was to become an anti-slavery lecturer. You didn’t mess with Sojourner Truth.
A little further up the hill is Swarthmore Friends Meetinghouse, the site of the Swarthmore College Institute of Race Relations. The roster of lecturers at the first two meetings in 1933 and 1934, included African Americans E. Franklin Frazier, W.W. Alexander, William White, Ralph Bunch and James Weldon Johnson. White lecturers for those early meetings included Franz Boas and Melville Herskowitz.
Next time you are in McCabe Library, crossing the Rose Garden or at a Collection in the Friends Meetinghouse, imagine you are in a living history exhibit. Imagine also that you are part of that history,
As part of Black History Month activities, Matt Meyer, organizer, author, and editor of We Have Not Been Moved: Resisting Racism and Militarism (PM Press) discussed revolutionary nonviolence, privilege, solidarity, and alliance building in higher education.
Video of the event is now available.
Audio of the event is now available.
Meyer’s work in K-12 public education and teacher training included ten years of service as Multicultural Coordinator for the NYC Board of Education’s Alternative High Schools & Programs, as well as a stint as Union Leader of a local section of the United Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO. He helped found and direct a mini-school in collaboration with St. Luke’s/Roosevelt Hospital’s Child and Family Institute (CFI), and led a psycho-educational CFI research delegation on re-integration and treatment of child soldiers in West and Central Africa and related work in “inner-city” USA; he also helped in the early development of the Harvey Milk High School, the first US “safe space” school for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth. Twice-decorated as “teacher of the year” by two Community School District Superintendents, Meyer’s continuous efforts as a high school-based historian and peace educator have spanned over 30 years.
Matt is an outstanding scholar-practitioner and leader in the field of peace and justice studies and is an accomplished Africanist scholar and educator, and has done much to bring critical race theory into dialogue with peace and conflict studies. You may read his recent co-authored piece “Refusing to Choose Between Martin and Malcolm: Ferguson, Black Lives Matter, and a New Nonviolent Revolution” at Counterpunch.org.
Co-sponsors: Peace and Conflict Studies, President’s Office, Black Cultural Center, Black Studies Program, Intercultural Center, History Department, Educational Studies Department, Sociology and Anthropology Department
This event builds on a theme the Peace and Conflict Studies program initiated last semester with the American Friends Service Committee poster exhibit in McCabe Library, “All of Us or None: Responses & Resistance to Militarism.”
From our friends in the Swarthmore College Peace Collection and Libraries
Queer Anthologies: Selections from Swarthmore’s Special Collections
The exhibit will be on display November 17 to December 22, 2015 in the McCabe Library lobby.
Pride Month and QSA will sponsor an exhibit reception at 4:30pm on November 17, 2015.
2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the earliest organized, recurring demonstrations for gay rights in the U.S: “Annual Reminders,” held at Independence Hall in Philadelphia from 1965 to 1969. As part of a city-wide celebration, “Queer Anthologies” explores some of Swarthmore College’s rich archival resources for the study of the history of LGBTQ activism.
Photographs, artist’s books, personal papers, organizational records, ephemera, periodicals, and other materials illustrate the history of queer communities at Swarthmore College, in the Society of Friends (Quakers), in the Peace Movement, and in the wider world.
Emeritus Professor Harold Pagliaro Reflects on Combat Experience
from Swarthmore News and Events
by Mark Anskis
November 11, 2015
Seventy-two years removed from his military service, the fear of combat still lingers with Harold Pagliaro, Alexander Griswold Cummins Professor Emeritus of English Literature and Provost Emeritus.
“I still have nightmares about being sent to the front,” says Pagliaro, who was drafted into the U.S. Army as a naïve and optimistic 19-year-old during the Second World War. In one particular dream, Pagliaro is redrafted and, when he tells the draft board officer of his true age, his appeals fall on deaf ears and he’s sent back into service.
Pagliaro’s anxiety is similar to that of many who return from combat. In an attempt to come to terms with his experience, Pagliaro turned his memories into a memoir, Naked Heart: A Soldier’s Journey to the Front, which was published shortly after he retired from teaching at the College in 1992.
According to Pagliaro, the book, which is available in McCabe Library, is a tale “of what it’s like to be sent to the front. Thousands like me, boys just becoming men. We went up to the front lines alone.”
The idea for a memoir came to Pagliaro on a trip home to his parents’ house in the early 1990s. While there, he discovered a box of 200 letters he sent to his parents during the war. The letters were in stark contrast to what he recalls feeling at the time.
“I couldn’t believe how little they said of what I was experiencing,” he says. “I held back, I think, to keep my family from worrying.”
Trained for the infantry at Fort Benning, Ga., Pagliaro was taken from his division and sent directly into combat as a front line solo replacement in a reconnaissance unit, alongside soldiers he did not know. While in Europe, he was sent on high-risk patrol missions, with little guidance from his superiors and often in the dead of night. He recalls the emotions he felt at the time: fear of death from the night patrols, frustration that he knew little of the objectives of his missions, loneliness from fighting next to strangers.
Despite the near-constant danger, Pagliaro survived. He was ultimately sent home after a German shell fragment severely injured his right leg during an attack near the town of Erckartswiller, France. Pagliaro recovered after a long hospitalization. He says that even today, arthritis flares in the wounded leg are more frequent than in the “good” leg.
After being discharged from the Army in 1945, Pagliaro resumed classes at Columbia University, where he earned an A.B., M.A., and Ph.D. and taught from 1948-63. He came to Swarthmore in 1964, where he taught 18th-century English literature and English romanticism. He also served as provost from 1974 to 1980.
In addition to his memoir, Pagliaro is the author or editor of numerous other books and articles, including Selfhood and Redemption in Blake’s Songs (1987), Henry Fielding: A Literary Life (1998), and Relations Between the Sexes in the Plays of George Bernard Shaw (2004). At 90 and a longtime Swarthmore Borough resident, he continues to work in his Parrish Hall office most days. Over the past few years, he has written and published sonnets.
Since its publication, Naked Heart has drawn praise for its honesty and unique perspective. Along with the praise, Pagliaro admits that he has also received letters from baffled readers who cannot believe he found his wartime service less than ennobling.
Looking back, Pagliaro agrees there were positives to his war experience.
“I did a lot of growing up fast,” he says. “If anything, war left me cherishing life all the more, maybe because I came close to losing it. But the experience of war is overwhelmingly destructive – war is a loser. Hitler and Mussolini had to be stopped, of course. But there remains the question many ask: why are humans so ready to go to war?”
We would like to share the following announcement. Prof. Elliot Ratzman, who has taught in Swarthmore’s Religious Studies Department and the Peace and Conflict Studies program, will interview Dr. Albie Sachs and the film’s Director after the screening on Saturday Nov. 21, 2015.
Date: Saturday, November 21
Time: 7:30 pm
Location: Kimmel Center for The Performing Arts – TICKETS
We close out this year’s Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival – Fall Fest with the 2015 Peabody Award-Winner, SOFT VENGEANCE: ALBIE SACHS AND THE NEW SOUTH AFRICA.
In this powerful documentary about the fall of apartheid and the rise of a free South Africa, Director Abby Ginzberg takes a different, but no less rewarding, route than most who have tackled the subject. A great many apartheid-related documentaries tend to focus on the larger-than-life Nelson Mandela, while simultaneously simplifying the conflict into a “blacks are good; whites are bad” scenario. Ginzberg moves this film in a more compelling direction, introducing us to the incredible true story of Albie Sachs.
Sachs, a Jew of Lithuanian descent, was born in South Africa and as a young man used his law degree to help those suffering under South Africa’s harsh racial laws. This made him a marked man to authorities, which directly led to his imprisonment, exile, and a brutal near-death experience. But this was only the beginning of Sachs’ life-affirming journey, which is told by Sachs himself, along with other notables, including Desmond Tutu and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Official Selection of the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, Australia Jewish International Film Festival, DocNYC, International Women’s Film Forum, Movies That Matter Film Festival, Palm Beach Jewish Film Festival, Reframe Film Festival, South African Jewish Museum – Cape Town, Toronto Jewish Film Festival
Special Guests: Film followed by Tikkun Olam Award Presentation and discussion with Albie Sachs and Director Abby Ginzberg. All guests are invited to attend PJFF’s Closing Night Party at Hamilton Hall, The University of the Arts.
Sponsors: The Carole Landis Foundation for Social Action, David and Helen Pudlin, Pam and Tony Schneider, Sterling Trustees LLC
From our friends in History and Music:
LOST YIDDISH SONGS OF THE HOLOCAUST
Tuesday, November 10
1:00 to 2:15
Lang Concert Hall
Lang Music Building
“Avant-bard” singer/songwriter/performer Psoy Korolenko and Professor Anna Shternshis of the University of Toronto bring to life lost Yiddish songs of the Holocaust in this combined concert and lecture. Written and transcribed by surviving Ukrainian Jewish writers of the Kiev Cabinet for Jewish Culture after World War II as a testament to their struggle for survival, these rare Yiddish artifacts were confiscated and hidden by the Soviet government in 1949. They have only recently come to light. Come learn about the incredible stories behind these treasures, savor the music, and revel in the creativity of Yiddish-speaking Holocaust survivors.
Sponsored by the Departments of History, Music and the President’s Office
by Wendy Chmielewski, Curator of the Swarthmore College Peace Collection.
On September 13, 2015, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission unveiled a historic marker in nearby Rose Valley, PA to honor Mildred Scott Olmsted.
Mildred Scott Olmsted, who lived most of her long life in Delaware County, was a leading figure in twentieth century social reform movements-women’s rights, civil rights, birth control, and especially the peace movement. Olmsted (1890-1990), was best remembered as the leading voice of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom in the U.S. for over forty years, leading that organization through the years of the creation of the United Nations, the Cold War, the civil rights movement, fears over the spread of Communism, protests against atomic weapons and civil defense, protests against the Vietnam war, and the rise of the women rights movement.
As a young woman, fresh out of Smith College, in 1912, Mildred Scott entered the new field of social work. She volunteered with the YMCA, the Red Cross, and the American Friends Service Committee providing relief services in France and Germany in the aftermath of World War I Europe to assist in . The devastation and suffering she found in Europe convinced Mildred to become a life-long pacifist and active worker for the cause of peace. In 1922, Olmsted became Executive Secretary of the Pennsylvania Branch of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). She assumed additional responsibilities in 1934 when she became National Organization Secretary of WILPF, U.S. Section. In 1946, Olmsted became National Administrative Secretary and she held that position until her “retirement” in 1966. She remained Executive Director Emerita of WILPF and was active almost to the very end of her life at 99.
While she was best known for her leadership in WILPF, Mildred Scott Olmsted served many organizations. She was on the Board of Philadelphia SANE-against nuclear weapons, Promoting Enduring Peace, the Upland Institute of Crozer Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania, vice-chairman of the Pennsylvania American Civil Liberties Union, and representative to the United Nations Council of Non-Governmental Organizations, among others. An early leader in the birth control movement, Olmsted helped set up the first clinic in the Philadelphia area. She championed the causes of women’s suffrage, civil liberties, the protection of animals, and conservation of natural resources. Her hobbies included gardening, travel, antiques, and historic preservation.
In 1987 Swarthmore College presented Olmsted with an honorary doctorate degree, as several other institutions, including her alma mater Smith. She was honored on numerous occasions by WILPF and received its first Lifetime Achievement Award in 1986.
Olmsted resided for most of her life in Rose Valley, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia. She was a member of the Society of Friends and attended the Providence (Media, PA) Meeting where she served as clerk. She was a member of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Committee on Reorganization in 1973 and 1974 and also served on the Executive Committee of the Peace Education Committee of the American Friends Service Committee.
The Mildred Scott Olmsted Papers and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, U.S. Section Records are available at the Swarthmore College Peace Collection.
By Christopher Densmore, Curator, Friends Historical Library, Swarthmore College.
The weather vane atop Parrish Hall is in the shape of a feather.
People with sharp eyes may have noticed that the feather has been
fashioned into a quill pen. This is easier to see in the old Parrish
Hall weathervane mounted on the wall on the center staircase of Parrish Hall between the first and second floor.
This earlier weathervane was replaced by another (maybe the current version) in the 1930s. For an institution of higher learning, a quill pen seems quite appropriate. However, there is a possible additional reference. It may be a reference to William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania. If this is the case, it is also a peace symbol, referencing William Penn’s treaties with the Indians.
The following is from a 1798 letter to the Six Nations (the
“To our Indians Brethren of the six Nations Brothers; We rejoice that you are now at peace and we pray to the Good Spirit that he may continue to preserve you from the miseries of war, We have always had your welfare at heart, ever since our Grandfather, Onas came into this country; and the present time appears to us to be a favourable one, again, to manifest our unalterable friendship for you We cannot forget the harmony that subsisted between our forefathers and the Indians during the first settlement of this country.”
The Haudenosaunee referred to William Penn as Onas, their word for feather, and by extension, a feather quill pen.
At least this is more likely than the story appearing in the Phoenix in
1941, claiming that the feather was from the golden phoenix, dropped when that bird took flight from Swarthmore following his/her rebirth in fire.
“Women in Peace and Conflict: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow”
A panel discussion with Jody Williams (1997 Nobel Peace Prize recipient and chair of the Nobel Women’s Initiative), and Wendy E. Chmielewski, George R. Cooley Curator, Swarthmore College Peace Collection
Moderated by Marjorie Murphy, James C. Hormel Professor in Social Justice
Date: September 28, 2015
Place: Scheuer Room, Kohlberg Hall, Swarthmore College (Directions)
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Open to the public, Reception to follow
Jody Williams received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for her work to ban landmines through the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which shared the Peace Prize with her that year. At that time, she became the 10th woman – and third American woman – in its almost 100-year history to receive the Prize. Since her protests of the Vietnam War, she has been a life-long advocate of freedom, self-determination and human and civil rights.
Williams chairs the Nobel Women’s Initiative and from 1992 she oversaw the growth of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines to over 1,300 organizations in 95 countries working to eliminate antipersonnel landmines. In an unprecedented cooperative effort with governments, UN bodies and the International Committee of the Red Cross, she served as a chief strategist and spokesperson for the ICBL as it dramatically achieved its goal of an international treaty banning antipersonnel landmines during a diplomatic conference held in Oslo in September 1997. Since 1998, Williams has also served as a Campaign Ambassador for the ICBL.
Wendy E. Chmielewski is the George R. Cooley Curator of the Swarthmore College Peace Collection, a position she has held sine 1988. Trained as a historian, she has specialized in the history of women, social movements, and social reform. Chmielewski received her Phd in American History from the State University of New York at Binghamton in 1989, and her dissertation explored issues of feminism and women’s roles in U.S. communal societies and utopian literature of the nineteenth century. Parts of this work were published in a volume she co-edited Women in Spiritual and Communitarian Societies in the United States, Syracuse University Press, 1993. Chmielewski has since published several articles, essays, and books on the history of women, peace, and communal societies, with her most recent publication being a co-edited volume on Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Jane Addams: Jane Addams and the Practice of Democracy, edited by Marilyn Fischer, Carol Nackenoff, and Wendy Chmielewski, University of Illinois Press, 2009.
Chmielewski’s most recent projects include work on the role women played in both the in the nineteenth century British and American peace movement. She is also one of the founders and directors of “Her Hat Was in the Ring: U.S. Women Elected to Political Office Before 1920,” <www.herhatwasinthering.org>, a digital humanities project tracing over 5,000 women who campaigned for elective office before the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote. For her work on this continuing project Chmielewski received two fellowships in 2013-2014 from the Gilder-Lehrman Institute for American History and the Carrie Chapman Catt Center on Women and Politics at Iowa State University.
Chmielewski has worked on the board of several institutions, including the Archives Committee of the American Friends Service Committee, the Communal Studies Association, the Centre for Peace History at the University of Sheffield, and the Peace History Society. From 2002-2004 she was the president of the PHS. In 2014 Chmielewski was invited to join the Advisory Council for the American Museum for Peace. She has also served on the board of her local public library in Lansdowne, Pennsylvania.
Marjorie Murphy teaches courses on U.S. history, especially in the fields of working-class history, women and gender, and foreign affairs. Her other scholarly interest are in the history of the teachers union and educational reform.
Murphy earned her Ph.D. in History at the University in California at Davis in 1981, under the guidance of David Brody. She taught at Loyola College and Bryn Mawr College before coming to Swarthmore in 1983. Professor Murphy’s book, Blackboard Unions, came out in 1991.
(Williams’ bio was adapted from the website of the Nobel Women’s Initiative.)