Mildred Scott Olmsted 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
Mildred Scott Olmsted, peace activist and suffragist, was born in Glenolden, Pennsylvania, on December 5, 1890. She attended Friends' Central School in Philadelphia and graduated from Smith College in 1912 with a degree in history. In 1913, she received a certificate from the Pennsylvania School of Social and Health Work. In 1919, she went to France with the YMCA where she organized recreation for soldiers at the Sorbonne. It was while in Paris that Olmsted first met Jane Addams. In 1920, she went to Berlin and joined the German Unit of the American Friends Service Committee, American Relief Administration. Here, she helped organize the feeding of famine-stricken Bavarian children. Returning home, Olmsted became Assistant Director of the White-Williams Foundation from 1920 to 1922. She married Allen S. Olmsted, 2nd, in 1921 and the couple had one child and adopted two more.
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 when Dorothy Detzer resigned. She held that position (title changed to National Executive Director circa 1964) until her retirement in 1966. She remained active as Executive Director Emerita of WILPF and also served on its International Executive Committee from 1937 until 1953.
While she was best known for her leadership in WILPF, Mildred Scott Olmsted served many organizations. She was on the Board of Philadelphia SANE, 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 1972, Olmsted was presented with the Philadelphia SANE Peace Award, and in 1974, her alma mater Smith College presented her with an honorary doctorate degree, as did Swarthmore College in 1987. 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, Pennsylvania) 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.
Olmsted died July 2, 1990, at the age of 99.
Mildred Scott Olmsted's papers were received in many different accessions beginning in 1975. The final accessions were received following her death in 1990. The series imposed here attempt to place materials such as correspondence or WILPF documents together. Where possible, chronological arrangement has been used.
Most of Olmsted's correspondence in Series II is personal in nature. A considerable amount of material pertaining to WILPF, from the years 1934 until February 1966, when Olmsted was in leadership positions, was moved to Series C of DG 43, U.S. Section (WILPF). Much printed WILPF material was also moved to DG 043 to create a more complete WILPF collection and to avoid duplication. She was active in many organizations for which SCPC is a repository, and documents of an impersonal nature from these organizations were moved from the Olmsted papers to the records of the creating organizations. Periodicals, both from WILPF and from other organizations, were refiled with SCPC retired periodicals,. A list of these is in Series V. Two scrapbooks containing letters of tribute sent to Olmsted in 1965 at the time of her retirement from WILPF were dismantled and the pages placed together, now found in Series IV.
Guide to the Swarthmore College Peace Collection, 2nd ed. p. 51.
Guide to Sources on Women in the Swarthmore College Peace Collection, p. 18.
The Swarthmore College Peace Collection is the official repository for these papers/records.
Gift of Mildred Scott Olmsted and Margaret Hope Bacon. Received: 1975, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1982, 1986, 1987, 1990.
Photographs Audio Visual Recordings Memorabilia
- Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. U.S. Section
- Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. Pennsylvania Branch
- Swarthmore College Peace Collection
- Finding Aid Author
- Martha P. Shane, Archivist
- Access Restrictions
The collection is open for research use.
- Copyright to the Mildred Scott Olmsted Papers, and created by Mildred Scott Olmsted has been transferred to the Swarthmore College Peace Collection. Copyright to all other materials is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Except WILPF: see Series IV
Removed to Photograph Collection
Removed to Audiovisual Collection; see audiocassettes 276.1-276.2; see also transcript of tapes in folder accompanying Audiocassettes in Audiovisual Collection
Acc. 90A-010; removed to Audiovisual Collection
Acc. 93A-026; removed to Audiovisual Collection
Removed to other collections