Main content

Philadelphia Women's Peace Encampment Records

Notifications

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 Philadelphia Women's Peace Encampment began as a project funded by the SANE Education Fund to support the Women's Encampment for a Future of Peace and Justice, which gathered women for eight weeks in the summer of 1983 on a farm adjacent to the Seneca Army Depot (near Romulus, New York). The purpose of the gathering was for women to learn about and protest the escalation of militarism and weapons build-up. Members of the Philadelphia Women's Peace Encampment, inspired by this event and others nationally and internationally, initially deemed itself a local chapter of a global community of women who clearly saw the madness of nuclear weapons and were not afraid to speak against it.

The focus of the Philadelphia Women's Peace Encampment quickly grew from just militarism to embrace a whole range of issues, particularly those prejudices and injustices that create a violent society. They worked against paternalism, right-wing repression, anti-Semitism, U.S. intervention in Central America, and racism in the Philadelphia area and in South Africa. The group developed a membership that was largely lesbian and bi-sexual, so that fighting homophobia was a strong concern as well. They were strongly pro-choice, acting as escorts for women wanting an abortion, to help them through the sometimes violent anti-abortion crowds at the clinics. In fact, they embraced a number of "women's" issues. They began to call themselves a radical feminist direct-action group. Alternate names to Philadelphia Women's Peace Encampment that were proposed and which received the most votes: Adventure in Radical Feminism, Direct Action Feminists Together, and Feminists Interrupting Sexist Traditions.

There was some dissension in the group concerning its focus. At times members protested that they were being too violent and anti-male, and that the issues were becoming too diverse. But in many ways, this diversity of outlook reflected both the peace movement of the 1980s as it began to test the inter-relationships of peace and justice, as well as the feminist movement as it evolved. One member stated that her vision for the Philadelphia Women's Peace Encampment was to "Recognize a model of life which embraces harmony, ecology, balance and reconciliation. . . . [To] try to find creative and nonviolent ways to address [the powers] without resort to oppressive confrontation or abusive competition between artificial 'sides.'" To achieve this they worked on specific projects in coalition with such groups as the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Feminists in Solidarity with the Central American and Caribbean People, and the Brandywine Peace Community.

Because of its orientation toward welding education and action, the Philadelphia Women's Peace Encampment not only produced a newsletter (for a short time) and wrote and distributed leaflets, but did presentations on local radio, sold t-shirts with an original logo, performed street theater, and committed civil disobedience. Some women were even arrested and spent time in jail for their actions. In some circles they became so well known that one correspondent thought they were a national organization. Instead, the group rarely grew to above a dozen women, and they concentrated their activities in Philadelphia, agreeing that they would never schedule anything that could not be reached by public transportation. Their bi-weekly, and sometimes weekly, get-togethers alternated between general meetings and discussion/action groups.

The Philadelphia Women's Peace Encampment is an example of a small group that expended its energies for five years on trying to make a difference in its own locale. The group disbanded in 1988.

The Philadelphia Women's Peace Encampment records consist of minutes and agendas, promotional material, a small amount of correspondence, material describing the various actions in which the group engaged, reference files and notes, posters, protest signs, a t-shirt, three small banners, two buttons, and two photographs.

The records of the Philadelphia Women's Peace Encampment itself span the years from 1983-1988; also included is material from the Feminist Disarmament Meeting in June 1982, which was the first step in organizing the Women's Encampment for a Future of Peace and Justice in Romulus, New York.

Several members of the Philadelphia Women's Peace Encampment donated their files for the archives and it was organized by the group in 1990. The materials were received in some order. In particular, the minutes and agendas were grouped together, and separate folders made for each action/event. Folders in boxes have been arranged so that organizational files appear first, then the "actions" undertaken by the group, followed by the material they gathered on women's peace encampments and issues of concern.

Gift of the Philadelphia Women's Peace Encampment, 1990.

Checklist prepared by Anne Yoder, January 1995; this finding aid was prepared by Chloe Lucchesi- Malone, August 2009.

Posters and protests signs removed to the Poster Collection. T-shirt and banners removed to the Oversize/Memorabilia area. Buttons removed to the Button/Pin/Ribbon Collection. Photographs removed to the Photograph Collection (8" x 10").

Publisher
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 peacecollection@swarthmore.edu at least two weeks in advance of visit to request boxes.

Copyright to the Philadelphia Women's Peace Encampment Records created by the organization 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

None.

Collection Inventory

History and general information.
Box DG 157: 1 [off-site SCPC-5049]
Organization (first steps).
Box DG 157: 1 [off-site SCPC-5049]
Article re: Philadelphia Women's Peace Encampment in Off Our Backs: A Women's Newsjournal, Vol XVII, 1987 (February).
Box DG 157: 1 [off-site SCPC-5049]
Minutes, 1984-1985.
Box DG 157: 1 [off-site SCPC-5049]
Minutes, 1986.
Box DG 157: 1 [off-site SCPC-5049]
Minutes, 1987-1988.
Box DG 157: 1 [off-site SCPC-5049]
Correspondence.
Box DG 157: 1 [off-site SCPC-5049]
Correspondence from Ursel Kornfeld of Germany, ca. 1983.
Box DG 157: 1 [off-site SCPC-5049]
Finances.
Box DG 157: 1 [off-site SCPC-5049]
Press packet.
Box DG 157: 1 [off-site SCPC-5049]
Mailing lists.
Box DG 157: 1 [off-site SCPC-5049]
Requests for information, 1983.
Box DG 157: 1 [off-site SCPC-5049]
Philadelphia Women's Peace Encampment newsletter articles and logo.
Box DG 157: 1 [off-site SCPC-5049]
Response to newsletter, 1984 (February).
Box DG 157: 1 [off-site SCPC-5049]
Outreach and coalition work.
Box DG 157: 1 [off-site SCPC-5049]
Women's Pentagon Action, 1981-1982.
Box DG 157: 2 [off-site SCPC-5050]
Street theater performance, July 4, 1983.
Box DG 157: 2 [off-site SCPC-5050]
Civil disobedience at Franklin Plaza Hotel, Philadelphia, October 6, 1983.
Box DG 157: 2 [off-site SCPC-5050]
Cafe America action, Spring 1984.
Box DG 157: 2 [off-site SCPC-5050]
Nuclear weapons protest at Navy Yard, 1984 (August) [Hiroshima Day].
Box DG 157: 2 [off-site SCPC-5050]
Not In Our Name: A Women's Resistance Action, 1984.
Box DG 157: 2 [off-site SCPC-5050]
Cynthia Enloe on women in the military (proposed event with...), ca. 1984.
Box DG 157: 2 [off-site SCPC-5050]
Pump Iron, Not Lead war games protest, ca. 1984.
Box DG 157: 2 [off-site SCPC-5050]
Pledge-a-picketer campaign.
Box DG 157: 2 [off-site SCPC-5050]
Anti-racist work, 1985-1987.
Box DG 157: 2 [off-site SCPC-5050]
Balloon release protesting nuclear weapons at main gate of Seneca Army Depot, 1986 (July).
Box DG 157: 2 [off-site SCPC-5050]
Do You Still Want to Change the World retreat, 1986.
Box DG 157: 2 [off-site SCPC-5050]
Big Mountain protest, 1986.
Box DG 157: 2 [off-site SCPC-5050]
Wages for Housework Campaign, 1986-1987.
Box DG 157: 2 [off-site SCPC-5050]
South Africa apartheid protests, ca. 1986 or 1987.
Box DG 157: 2 [off-site SCPC-5050]
New Right/Fundamentalist movement protest, ca. 1986 or 1987.
Box DG 157: 2 [off-site SCPC-5050]
Pro-Choice actions, ca. 1987.
Box DG 157: 3 [off-site SCPC-5051]
Lesbian/Gay rights march, 1987 (October).
Box DG 157: 3 [off-site SCPC-5051]
Protest against Bishop Anthony Bevilacqua of Philadelphia, ca. 1987-1988.
Box DG 157: 3 [off-site SCPC-5051]
Summer Feminist Frolic, ca. 1988.
Box DG 157: 3 [off-site SCPC-5051]
Feminist disarmament meeting, June 11, 1982.
Box DG 157: 3 [off-site SCPC-5051]
Chain letter/fundraiser for Seneca Women's Peace Camp, Summer 1983.
Box DG 157: 3 [off-site SCPC-5051]
Seneca Women's Peace Encampment, Summer 1983.
Box DG 157: 3 [off-site SCPC-5051]
Seneca Women's Peace Encampment, 1984-1986.
Box DG 157: 3 [off-site SCPC-5051]
Puget Sound Women's Peace Encampment.
Box DG 157: 3 [off-site SCPC-5051]
International peace camps, 1983-1985.
Box DG 157: 4 [off-site SCPC-5052]
Other women's peace encampments.
Box DG 157: 4 [off-site SCPC-5052]
Songsheets.
Box DG 157: 4 [off-site SCPC-5052]
Feminism and the peace movement.
Box DG 157: 4 [off-site SCPC-5052]
Sonia Johnson for President.
Box DG 157: 4 [off-site SCPC-5052]
Anti-Militarism #1.
Box DG 157: 4 [off-site SCPC-5052]
Anti-Militarism #2.
Box DG 157: 4 [off-site SCPC-5052]

Print, Suggest