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Elizabeth Watson albums: "Around the World in Ninety Days"


Held at: Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College [Contact Us]500 College Avenue, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania 19081

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

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Elizabeth Grill was born Jan. 1, 1914, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. As a child, she was inspired to the preaching ministry especially by her maternal grandfather, a Methodist minister in South Dakota. She began her career as a speaker as a teenager. Elizabeth graduated from Miami University, Ohio, in 1936. During her college years, she joined the Miami Speakers Bureau and preached in small churches which could not afford a minister. She was awarded a scholarship to study at the Chicago Theological Seminary and the University of Chicago Divinity School. In Chicago she was drawn to urban ministry.

George H. Watson was born in Illinois in 1915, the son of Perley M. and Margaret E. Watson. He grew up in Ohio and graduated from Miami University and the University of Illinois. He earned a PhD at the University of Chicago in Political Science. Watson's first job was as an Instructor at Southern Illinois University but he soon moved back to Chicago to take a position as research director for the Federation of Tax Administrators.

George Watson married Elizabeth Grill in 1937, and in 1938 they both joined 57th Street Meeting of Friends. The Watsons had four children and also raised three orphaned sisters from Germany who had been pen pals of the Watson daughters.

During the War, the Watsons were deeply involved in AFSC activities, the relocation of Japanese-Americans, and other Quaker activities. George was drafted as a conscious objector in 1945 and after the War began long career teaching at Roosevelt University in downtown Chicago. Elizabeth worked with the AFSC and the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference. Both George and Elizabeth became active in Friends World Committee for Consultation.

In 1972, the Watsons moved to Long Island, NY, where George became head of Friends World College. Elizabeth was prominent as a liberal Quaker preacher and also worked as curator of the Walt Whitman birthplace in Huntington, NY. While at Friends World College, the Watson helped found Lloyd Harbor Friends Meeting and Elizabeth was active as a speaker in New York Yearly Meeting and Friends General Conference.

In 1980 George retired, and the couple moved to Friends Community in Easton, Mass. They traveled extensively in the ministry in the U.S. and Canada. They were Fellows at Woodbrooke College, England, in 1983-1984, and later served as Friends in Residence at Pendle Hill, the Quaker study center in Wallingford, Pa. In 1991, they moved to Minneapolis where their daughter Carol lived, and they became active in Minneapolis Friends Meeting. Elizabeth died Feb. 24, 2006.

Two albums document George and Elizabeth Watson on pilgrimage from August 6 to November 4, 1988. They include photographs and miscellaneous documents. Of particular interest are daily journal entries by Elizabeth Watson divided across the two volumes.

Volume I includes Minneapolis, Seattle, Honolulu, Seoul, FWCC Triennial Tokyo, and Hiroshima (PA146/000-PA146/110). Volume II includes Kyoto, Nagano, Return to Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Bangkok.

These photographs include photos of the Friends World Committee for Consultation Triennial, the International Christian University, members of the American Friends Service Committee, the Friends World College, and the Japan Anabaptist Center.

This collection is part of George H. and Elizabeth G. Watson Papers, RG5/268.

Gift of Watson Family, 2006 (2006.016), 2012 (2012.002). Part of George H. and Elizabeth G. Watson Papers, RG5/268.

The pages of the album have been removed and placed in folders in the same order. Page 001 is on the right; pages 002 and 003 face each other; pages 004 and 005 face each other, etc. Photographs and some documents are stored separately in plastic sleeves and folders. Some photos are marked with a red dot and a number in the original album.

Each volume is contained in two folders, one for text documents and one for photographs.

This collection was removed from George H. and Elizabeth G. Watson Papers, RG5/268.

Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College
Finding Aid Author
Zoe Peyton Jones
Finding Aid Date
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