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Rebecca Mary Hannum correspondence


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

Rebecca Mary Hannum was born in 1889, the daughter of Robert Marshall and Ida K. Hannum. The family joined the Society of Friends at Kennett Monthly Meeting in 1904. In 1914, they transferred their membership to Lansdowne Monthly Meeting. Mary attended the George School and graduated from the University of Michigan in 1911.

She worked with the American Friends Service Committee child feeding project in Berlin, Germany, in 1921-1924, serving as executive secretary. During WWI, the AFSC was organized to support and organize alternative service for conscientious objectors and conducted relief efforts in France working with British Quakers. After the war ended, the AFSC worked in relief in Central Europe and Russia as well as a massive effort to feed hungry children in Germany and Austria. The program gradually was transferred to local groups, and Mary Hannum became involved with the administration of the Peasant Industries program which supported women's handwork for sale in the United States and elsewhere. She left Berlin in October 1924, having attended the International Peace Conference in Berlin, held October 2-8, 1924. R. Mary Hannum was a long time employee of the Peasant Shop in Philadelphia and died in Friends Hall, West Chester, Pennsylvania, in 1984.

The collection contains the correspondence of Rebecca Mary Hannum (1889-1984) mostly related to work with the American Friends Service Committee in post WWI Germany, 1921-1924. She worked with the AFSC child feeding project in Berlin serving as executive secretary. After the project was transferred to local groups in Germany, Mary Hannum became involved with the Peasant Industries program which supported women's handwork for sale in the United States and elsewhere. Her personal and business letters contain detailed descriptions of relief work in Germany, travel, and administration of the Peasant Industries. Also included are three letters presumably from her brothers sent from Camp Greenleaf Detention Camp, Tennessee, and typed carbons of reports of relief workers in Poland and Russia including a diary of Quaker relief worker Beulah Hurley.

Gift of Jason Venuto, great-nephew of Rebecca Mary Hannum. FHL Acc. 2021.011

Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College
Finding Aid Author
Susanna Morikawa
Finding Aid Date
December 2021
Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Friends Historical Library believes all of the items in this collection to be in the Public Domain in the United States, and is not aware of any restrictions on their use. However, the user is responsible for making a final determination of copyright status before reproducing. See

Collection Inventory

Folder 1: Letters received by Mary Hannum from Greenleaf Camp, Tennessee, 1918.
Scope and Contents

Three letters to Mary Hannum handwritten on YMCA stationary. Sent from Camp Greenleaf Detention Camp, Tennessee, the location of Medical Training Camp. The letter from "Mac" to "Pud," which is written on very fragile, acidic papers is stored in mylar. An envelope return address is Sgt. W. M Hannum. Presumably from brothers Thomas K. and Wilmer Marshall Hannum.

Folder 2: Mary Hannum to family, 1920.
Scope and Contents

Autograph letters to family described her travel to Europe in December 1920 and first days in Germany.

Folder 3: Mary Hannum to family.
Scope and Contents

Typed and handwritten. Two letters dated 1921 describe her vacation visits to the Netherlands in the early summer and England in the fall, planning Paris for Christmas. Her undated typed letter after the trip to England noted that Americans were not as welcome as three months earlier; with the economic collapse, there was great poverty and resentment. She looked forward to turning over the child feeding program to the German government in January. Typed carbon travel description of trip to England with snapshots.

Folder 4: Mary Hannum and others, 1922.
Scope and Contents

In February Mary wrote to her mother than she had spent previous year chained to a desk. Letterhead for the Child Feeding program lists her as Executive Secretary. Her letter to Billy is signed "Pud." The letter referred to strikes, government turmoil, and unrest. Transition from AFSC relief work organized local groups.

Folder 5: Mary Hannum family and business correspondence, 1924.
Scope and Contents

In January, Mary was in Philadelphia, subsequently returning to Europe for AFSC relief work. Her letters described touring Italy and Austria in April. In the summer, she visited Poland, Germany, etc. purchasing handmade linens, etc., to ship for sale in America. Correspondence with Anna Dudley, Philadelphia, concerning pricing and shipments. Mary Hannum left Berlin in October 1924, having attended the International Peace Conference in Berlin, held October 2-8, 1924. Typed mimeograph letter dated 10/20/1924 described in detail her reaction to the Conference. After leaving Berlin, she visited Poland, letters include details of finances in purchasing goods for sale. The letters includes orders she made in of locally made goods in preparation for the Peasant Shop in Philadelphia. Undated fragment of letter addressed to Caroline described demonstrations, tensions, and animosity towards Jews.

Folder 6: Miscellaneous, ca. 1923-1924.
Scope and Contents

Carbon copies of reports, correspondence concerning work with Peasant Industries. Undated carbon copy of a report addressed to "Dear Quakers" from Jane Pontefract, Poland Unit, described the hardship there. She was the founder of the Peasant Industries which provided Polish women with weaving and embroidery work. The goods were shipped to America and elsewhere, and funds used for education in Poland.

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