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New York Bureau of Legal Advice Collected Records

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Held at: Swarthmore College Peace Collection [Contact Us]500 College Avenue, Swarthmore 19081-1399

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Swarthmore College Peace Collection. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

The New York Bureau of Legal First Aid was founded on May 11, 1917 with a $100 grant from the Woman's Peace Party. It was initially sponsored by the People's Council, the Socialist Party, the Civil Liberties Bureau and the Workmen's Council. In May 1918, the group changed its name to the New York Bureau of Legal Advice. The Bureau was the first organization to provide free legal service to men who resisted the new draft laws related to the entry of the United States into the first world war. Its primary efforts went into monitoring the government's attitude toward conscientious objectors to war, and campaigning for their humane treatment and eventual amnesty from prison terms. It also opposed the deportation of labor union radicals (especially members of the International (Industrial) Workers of the World), and the harassment of others opposed to the war. In September 1918, the Bureau was raided by the FBI which temporarily disrupted its work.

Frances Witherspoon, a feminist and socialist peace activist, served as the Bureau's Executive Secretary. Charles Recht, a Czech-born attorney, was its General Counsel. Members of the Executive Committee included Tracy D. Mygatt, Roger Baldwin, Martha Gruening and Fola La Follette (daughter of Senator La Follette). The Bureau closed in the fall of 1919, shortly before the Armistice.

The NYBLA collection includes correspondence with C.O.s and their families, office/administrative records, and newspaper clippings.

Many of the letters and documents, as well as transcriptions, from the NYBLA Collected Records have been published in the SCPC website about WWI conscientious objection / objectors (http://cosandgreatwar.swarthmore.edu/)

Unknown.

For the catalog record for this collection, and to find materials on similar topics, search the library's online catalog

Processed by Peace Collection staff; Anne Yoder, July 1999; this version of finding aid by Wendy E. Chmielewski, July 2012.

Photos were removed to the Photograph Collection.

Publisher
Swarthmore College Peace Collection
Access Restrictions

None.

Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendents, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Use Restrictions

None.

Collection Inventory

Checklist; removal form; holdings in Tamiment Library.
Box 1
Programmatic material (includes bylaws), 1917-1919.
Box 1
Correspondence with army camp commanders etc., 1918-1919.
Box 1
General correspondence re:conscientous objectors, 1918 - 1920 (January).
Box 1
Letters from conscientous objectors, 1917-1919.
Box 1
Letters from conscientous objector, Bruno Grunzig, 1918-1920.
Box 1
Letters from wives and fiancees of conscientous objectors about visits to camps/prisons, 1918-1919.
Box 1
Statements of conscientous objectors re: their convictions, and reports of conditions (and treatment) in camps/prisons.
Box 1
Reports re: court-martials of conscientous objectors, 1918 (March) - 1919 (February).
Box 1
Scope and Contents

including Julius Eichel

Statements from 2 conscientous objectors who were deported from the U.S.
Box 1
Answers to survey of 256(?) conscientous objectors.
Box 1
Lists of conscientous objectors.
Box 1
Scope and Contents

includes some notes re: conditions in camps/prisons

Newsclippings re: conscientous objectors [removed from scrapbook; photocopied].
Box 2
Newsclippings re: conscientous objectors [photocopied], 1918-1919, n.d.
Box 2

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