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Kaltenbach Family Correspondence

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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.

Overview and metadata sections

John E. Kaltenbach (1915-1984) grew up in Royersford, Pa. While studying at Wesleyan University, he was involved with the Christian Student Association and the founding of the Peace Action League. After graduating from Wesleyan, he attended Yale Divinity School and planned to become a minister. In 1939 he left Yale to work with refugees at the Scattergood Hostel, serving as acting director from 1938-1940. By the time he left Yale to work at Scattergood, he had become a Quaker. He married Ruth E. Stanton at Middletown Monthly Meeting, Delaware Co., Pa., in 1941. In later life, he helped found the Meeting School, Rindge, NH, and Woolman Hill Conference Center.

Scattergood Friends School in West Branch, Iowa, was a Quaker boarding school between 1890 and 1931. It was closed during the Depression, but reopened as Scattergood Hostel in 1938 when the American Friends Service Committee was searching for short-term housing for refugees from Europe. Between April 1939 and March 1943, Scattergood housed about 185 refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe, including families and children. John Kaltenbach met the first four arriving guests at Philadelphia's YMCA and drove them to Iowa in April 1939. Most refugees stayed at Scattergood for 3-4 months. While living at Scattergood, refugees studied English, participated in work crews, and grew their own food. In 1944, Scattergood reopened as a school.

The collection contains mainly correspondence sent by John E. Kaltenbach to his parents while attending Wesleyan, then Yale Divinity School, and later while he was working at Scattergood Hostel. It also includes correspondence sent by John's sister Louise to her parents, mostly while she was attending Swarthmore, 1935-1939. There are a few miscellaneous letters which John's parents received from other correspondents.

Purchase

Acc. 2009-021

Publisher
Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College
Finding Aid Author
FHL staff
Finding Aid Date
2014
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Permission to reuse, publish, or reproduce items in this collection beyond the bounds of Fair Use or other exemptions to copyright law must be obtained from the copyright holder or their heirs/assigns. See http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/InC-RUU/1.0/.

Collection Inventory

Scope and Contents

John details his experiences in his four years of undergraduate study at Wesleyan University. Midway through his first year he seriously considers leaving, but is eventually convinced to remain. His letters detail various bills he needs to pay and debts he owes; paying Wesleyan's expenses is an ongoing strain on John and his family. John's letters became increasingly political. He was staunchly anti-war, and also supportive of candidates who have pro-labor policies. He spends increasing time with Student Christian movement and intends to conduct weekly services in a local church.

John Kaltenbach's Letters from Wesleyan, 1933-1936.
Box 1
Physical Description

1 folder

John Kaltenbach's Letters from Wesleyan, 1936-1937.
Box 1
Physical Description

1 folder

Louise Kaltenbach's Letters, 1935-1941.
Box 1
Scope and Contents

Includes primarily letters written by Louise while a student at Swarthmore College, which she attends from 1935 through spring of 1939.

Physical Description

1 folder

Scope and Contents

John Kaltenbach enters Yale as an Episcopalian. In his letters, he notes his interest in Quaker involvemnt with peace efforts in Germany. As of 1939, he considers joining a "community experiment" in North Carolina, under the auspices of the Friends Service Committee. When he does leave Yale Divinity School the following year, it is to join the Scattergood Hostel in Iowa, sponsored by the AFSC.

John Kaltenbach's Letters from Yale Divinity School, 1937-1938.
Box 1
Physical Description

1 folder

John Kaltenbach's Letters from Yale Divinity School, 1938-1939.
Box 1
Physical Description

1 folder

Letters received by Kaltenbach family during summer 1939, 1939.
Box 1
Scope and Contents

John spends the summer of 1939 taking care of a friend's child at the Cape.

Physical Description

1 folder

John Kaltenbach's letters from Scattergood Hostel, 1939-1941.
Box 1
Scope and Contents

John Kaltenbach worked at the Scattergood Hostel for European Refugees between 1939 and 1941 as the acting director. While there, he meets Rachel Pickett and the two decide to marry. In his last letter, he notes that he intends to leave Scattergood, go back east, and try to find a farmhouse near Philadelphia.

Physical Description

1 folder

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