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Édouard Theis 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.

Overview and metadata sections

Édouard Theis was born in 1899. He taught school in the United States, and was a missionary and teacher in Madagascar and the Cameroons, before joining the theology faculty at the University of Paris, where he met André Trocmé. Trocmé invited him to serve as half-time assistant pastor under him in the Protestant church of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon in France. As a pacifist and conscientious objector to war Theis resisted Nazi violence and racism during World War II. Along with André and Magda Trocmé, Theis and his wife, Mildred, were leaders of the town's collective efforts to hide Jewish and other refugees from the Gestapo. He was arrested on February 13, 1943, along with André Trocmé and Roger Dacissac, and interned in a camp by the Vichy police, but was released after a few months. In the last months of the Nazi occupation, often at great risk, he guided refugees through the mountains of eastern France to the border of Switzerland, where they could pass into safety.

Theis and André Trocmé co-founded the Collège Cévenol in 1945. Theis taught French, German, and Greek, and his wife taught there as well. Theis also served as the college's first [second?] director until his retirement in 1963. Theis and his wife had eight daughters.

In 1952, Carl and Florence Sangree began The American Friends of the Collège Cévenol (AFCC). The AFCC helped raise funds for the college to purchase a 16-hectare farm on the edge of Chambon as the site of a new campus. It also organized work-camps at which the school's teachers and students, along with volunteers, passed the summers living in large tents while they built the new school with their own hands. Work-camps are still run today during the summers to help participants in their French language skills and to engage in community service projects. The college itself is currently named the Le Collège-Lycée Cévenol International.

[sources: 1/ "Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed" by Philip Hallie; 2/]

The collection consists of letters between Édouard Theis and Carl and Florence Sangree, who lived in the United States. The correspondence is primarily about the founding and maintenance of the Collège Cévenol in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon. Included are letters to/from André Trocmé.

The Swarthmore College Peace Collection is the official repository for these papers/records.

Gift of Jeanne Theis Whitaker, June 2010 [acc. 10A-059].

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

Processed, and checklist created, by Anne M. Yoder (Archivist), August 2010.

Swarthmore College Peace Collection
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Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendents, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
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Collection Inventory

Biographical information; list of letters.
Box 1
Correspondence, 1947 (November) - 1948.
Box 1
Correspondence, 1949.
Box 1
Correspondence, 1950.
Box 1
Correspondence, 1951.
Box 1
Correspondence, 1954-1959.
Box 1
Correspondence, 1960-1961.
Box 1
Correspondence, 1962 - 1964 (July).
Box 1
Correspondence, undated.
Box 1

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