J. Stuart Innerst 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
J. Stuart Innerst was born in 1894 in Dallastown, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Lebanon Valley College in 1916 and received a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Bonebrake Theological Seminary in 1919. He and his wife, Marion Reachard (whom he had married after graduating from college), became missionaries in Canton in January 1920 through the China Mission of United Brethren in Christ. They lived and worked in the small, rural town of Siulam, but their discomfort with the way the Chinese people were dominated by foreigners -- personally and also systemically through unfair treaties imposed by other governments -- led the Innersts to leave that country in protest in the Spring of 1927. Stuart Innerst did not return to China until May 1972, when he was allowed to enter the country as a guest of the Chinese Peoples Association for Friends with Foreign Countries. He was the first American missionary to be granted a visa to return, and he took full advantage of the privilege by visiting many sites over a five week period, focusing on the social changes achieved since he had lived there five decades earlier. Before that, in 1968, Innerst traveled to the Far East, including Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore, to meet with Quaker groups concerning the situation in China. China was of life-long interest and concern for Innerst, and was the subject of much of his writing and lobbying over the years.
Stuart Innerst served as a chaplain at Otterbein College (Ohio) from 1927 to 1939, and then as pastor for the Fairview Church in Dayton (Ohio). In 1943, he joined the Society of Friends, which eventually led him to a pastorship at the First Friends Church in Pasadena (California), where he stayed for many years.
In addition to his pastoral work, Innerst also served as the Director of the Quaker Friends in Washington Program (1960-1961); for thirteen months he lobbied and interviewed members of Congress regarding China, disarmament and peace, and other issues. Concern for his wife's health forced an early departure from Washington, but he returned for brief periods in 1963 and in 1965. His other involvements included participation in various Friends boards and committees, such as the Executive Committee of the Friends Committee on Legislation, the La Jolla Meeting Peace Committee, and the Friend in the Orient Committee of the Pacific Yearly Meeting. He attended four conferences of the World Peace Council in Europe in the early 1960s, and helped plan the 1962 World Congress on Disarmament and Peace.
Innerst was a prolific writer of Letters to the Editor, lobbying letters to government officials, Bible study helps and devotionals, articles and leaflets. Between 1965 and 1970, he edited the Understanding China Newsletter, published by the American Friends Service Committee. From his home in 1971-1973, he produced the China Spectator Papers. He co-authored the book A New China Policy: Some Quaker Proposals (1965), and his reflections on China were published posthumously in the book China Gray, China Green.
Innerst and his wife had four children, Almena [Neff], Dick, Lucille [Nordgren], and Ivan. After wife Marion's death in October 1964, Innerst married Gladis Barber Voorhees and settled in La Jolla (California). He died in his home on August 30, 1975.
The Innerst papers were sorted by daughter Almena Neff, who arranged the folders into loose chronological order and tied or taped up many of the periodicals in which her father's writings had been published. The shipment of five cartons arrived at the Peace Collection in 1976, and a temporary checklist was prepared in 1980. In 2003, the collection was re-sorted, re-foldered and re-boxed according to current preservation standards, and a new checklist was written. The Innerst papers were in good condition, though some had been scorched around the edges in a house fire; the worst burned were photocopied, as were various newsclippings and mimeographed pages. It is not known if any papers were lost in the fire. What is found in this collection allows the researcher to study the witness of a man who cared deeply about peace and social justice issues. His letters to editors, government officials, broadcasters and many others show his wide concerns and his inability to stay silent in the face of injustice. His voluminous sermon notes, as well as published Bible study helps and devotionals, provide a window into his thoughts about faith, which often intersected with his viewpoints on peace and justice.
Innerst's correspondents included Jennifer Haines, Charles Harker, Chet Holifield, Clare Sturges Johnson, A.J. Muste, Reinhold Niebuhr, Kirby Page, Drew Pearson, Edwin Sanders, Ed Snyder, Norman Thomas, Arthur Wadsworth, and E. Raymond Wilson.
Several photographs were removed to the Photograph Collection (including two portraits of Innerst). The 1962 "Directory" of right-wing groups, produced by Group Research Inc. of Washington, D.C. was removed to the CDG-A for Group Research Inc. The newsletter of Group Research Inc. was removed to the Periodical Collection.
Researchers should be aware that there are also Innerst papers at the Mandeville Special Collections Library at the University of California, San Diego. The material (4.9 linear feet) includes correspondence, writings, notes, publications, photographs and audiorecordings, the bulk of which reflect Innerst's interest in China. See the finding aid for this collection at http://orpheus.ucsd.edu/speccoll/testing/html/mss0097a.html.
Boxes 1 and 2 contained biographical information about Innerst and his family, and materials about his involvement with several organizations from the 1960s onward. Boxes 3-5 contain Innerst's correspondence. Boxes 6-10 contain Innerst's writings in all formats. Boxes 10-14 contain his speeches and sermons. Boxes 14-15 contain reference files on a few of the many topics which interested Innerst.
Guide to the Swarthmore College Peace Collection, 2nd ed., p.50.
The Swarthmore College Peace Collection is the official repository for these papers.
Gift of Almeda Innerst Neff [Acc. 76A-110].
Checklist prepared by Anne Yoder, October 2003; This finding aid was prepared by Chloe Lucchesi- Malone, July 2009; additions by Wendy E. Chmielewski, December, 2009.
- Friends Committee on National Legislation (U.S.)
- American Friends Service Committee
- La Jolla Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends. Peace Committee
- Pacific Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends. Friend in the Orient Committee
- World Peace Tax Fund
- Right Sharing of World Resources
- Missionaries -- China -- History -- Sources
- College chaplains -- Ohio -- History -- Sources
- Quakers -- California -- History -- Sources
- Quakers -- United States -- History -- Sources
- Clergy -- California -- History -- Sources
- Lobbyists -- Washington (D.C.) -- History -- Sources
- Vietnam War, 1961-1975 -- United States -- Sources
- Civil rights -- United States -- History -- Sources
- Pacifism -- United States -- History -- Sources
- Disarmament -- History -- Sources
- Antinuclear movement -- United States -- History -- Sources
- Swarthmore College Peace Collection
- Access Restrictions
The collection is open for research use.
All or part of this collection is stored off-site. Contact Swarthmore College Peace Collection staff at firstname.lastname@example.org at least two weeks in advance of visit to request boxes.
- Copyright to the J. Stuart Innerst Papers created by J. Stuart Innerst 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.
- Use Restrictions
[see also general correspondence files]