Concepción Picciotto 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
Concepcion Picciotto, a United States-based peace activist, was born in Vigo, Spain on January 15, 1936. She came to America to work at the Spanish Embassy in New York, where she stayed from October 1965 - June 1973. Believing that the U.S. Constitution embodied the values of peace, justice, and freedom for all, Picciotto became a naturalized citizen on December 29, 1970.
On October 29, 1966, Concepcion Picciotto married a young, wealthy Italian man. However, their marriage was plagued from the start with her husband's relationship with a baroness from Italy. Despite the hardships, Picciotto remained faithful to her husband. When she struggled to have a child, the couple went to Argentina in 1973 to adopt a daughter.
After a long and difficult process, Picciotto returned to the States with her child, only to have her marriage fell apart soon afterwards. She suffered more abuse and mistreatment, both by her family and by those from whom she sought help--including doctors, nuns, and the police. Picciotto managed to escape to Spain for a while, and according to a doctor who examined her there, she showed evidence of being injected with drugs. It was never her will to be parted with her daughter, but Picciotto ultimately lost the custody battle and became estranged from her child.
After being discriminated against and stripped of her bare human rights during her time in America (according to Picciotto), she dedicated her life to protesting the direction that U.S. government was going in terms of war and nuclear weapons. Picciotto met William Thomas on August 12, 1981; together they started the White House Peace Vigil against war and nuclear proliferation. Thomas built Picciotto a tent in Lafayette Park, across from the White House, and she lived there the rest of her life. By the end, when Picciotto died in 2016, she had carried out the longest continuous vigil ever to occur in the United States.
[Written by Juhyae Kim, SCPC student worker]
This collection came to the SCPC largely in disorder. A student assistant went through it first to organize it loosely, followed by processing by the Archivist. The files document Concepcion's early life to a small extent, with the bulk going toward documenting her life on vigil in Lafayette Park (by the White House, Washington, D.C.). This includes correspondence, especially letters from her admirers around the world, media coverage by many newspapers and other periodicals, among other material. In addition, there are files of her fellow protestors.
The Swarthmore College Peace Collection is the official repository for these papers.
Gift of the estate of Concepcion Picciotto, 2018 [acc. 2018-026]
This collection was processed and finding aid created by Anne M. Yoder, Archivist, March-April 2019.
- Photos were removed to the Photograph Collection.
-An audiocassette was removed to the Audiovisual Collection.
- 3 large signs (2 made of metal) were removed to the Oversized Documents Collection.
- A peace rock (painted by C.P.), face mask with signatures, pink megaphone covered in stickers, and other items were removed to the Memorabilia Collection.
- Removed to the Cloth Items Collection were: an Arab/Palestinian head cloth; signed green flag from Japan (1988); American flag with Native American pictured; piece of the Ribbon ("From Pieces to Peace" by the United Methodist Women, Talent, Ore.); green tea towel "The Associated Country Women of the World" printed in Northern Ireland; cloth sign (tunic) with words on front "Stop Israel War Crimes."
- Swarthmore College Peace Collection
- Access Restrictions
The series of Medical Records of Concepcion Picciotto is restricted for all researchers until January 1, 2026. The rest of 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 resources created by Concepcion Picciotto has been transferred to the Swarthmore College Peace Collection. Copyright to all other material is retained by the authors of those items in these papers, or their descendents, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
- Use Restrictions
All folders in this series, the medical records of Concepcion Picciotto, will remain restricted to all researchers for ten years after her death. The records will be open to all researchers as of January 1, 2026.