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Benjamin Spock Collected Papers


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.

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Dr. Benjamin Spock (May 2, 1903 – March 15, 1998) was an influential American pediatrician and policical and social activist involved in anti-Vietnam War movements, social welfare movements, and anti-nuclear protests. Celebrated for his pioneering childrearing book Baby and Child Care (1946), Dr. Spock was considered one of the foremost authorities on child care, advocating an understanding of the child's needs and the family dynamics over regimen and discipline.

Born in New Haven, Connecticut, Spock attended Phillips Academy and Yale University, where he studied literature and history. After attending Yale School of Medicine for two years, Spock transferred to Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, from which he graduated in 1929. His 1946 book, Baby and Child Care, which became one of the most popular best-sellers of all time, reassured mothers with its message to not undervalue maternal instincts.

Spock's political and social advocacy blossomed in the 1960s when he joined The Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy (SANE) and became an outspoken critic of the Vietnam War, including urging young men to resist conscription. Arrested on several occasions as a participant in anti-war rallies and protests, Spock had been placed on the FBI's "agitator index" and in 1968 was indicted for conspiracy to violate Selective Service laws: some evidence against him came from an FBI wiretap of his office; Spock was convicted of conspiracy to abet draft evasion in 1968, but his two-year prison sentence was never served; the case was appealed and in 1969 a federal court set aside his conviction; by 1972 the surveillance of Spock was halted.

Spock eventually represented the People's Party as the 1972 United States presidential candidate with a call for free medical care, minimum family incomes, and the legalization of abortions, marijuana, and homosexuality. Despite accusations of permissiveness and corruption of youth, Spock continued to lecture against nuclear weapons, war, and social welfare cuts.

Records. arranged in order of receipt.

The Swarthmore College Peace Collection is not the official repository for the papers of Benjamin Spock.

Source of acquisition--Michael Foley. Method of acquisition--Gift of; Date of acquisition--2006..

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