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Queer history materials in Swarthmore Special Collections

This research guide contains resources related to LGBTQ history from Swarthmore College's special collections and libraries: College Archives, Friends Historical Library, Swarthmore College Peace Collection, and Rare Book Room of McCabe Library.

LGBTQ Peace Activists

Jane Addams Collection-130 linear feet
Jane Addams (1860-1935), was a world-famous social reformer who co-founded Hull House the first settlement house in America in 1889.  Addams lived most of her adult life with her long-time companion Mary Rozet Smith.  Addams championed many causes on behalf of the urban poor, such as protection of immigrants, child labor laws, industrial safety, juvenile courts, and recognition of labor unions. She was a leading thinker and writer about issues of democracy, internationalism, peace, and human rights.  Addams was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931. Mary Rozet Smith also worked at Hull House, especially in the various educational projects and classes offered there.   The collection contains many letters between the women, concerning their decades long relationship.

Anita Augspurg (1857-1943), and Lida Gustava Heymann (1868-1943)- were prominent German feminists and peace activists who lived together for over 40 years.  They were two of the few German women to attend the international meeting of women opposed to World War I, held at The Hague in April of 1915.
Collections with holdings:
--Anita Augspurg Collected Papers-contains an unpublished biography of Heymann by Augspurg
--Jane Addams Collection
--Woman’s Peace Party
--Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, U.S. Section Records
-- Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom International Office Records (Microfilm only)

Robert(a) Dickinson Collected Papers ( -1982) 2.5 linear inches
Roberta Dickinson was a Quaker activist, architect, and artist.  Born Robert Dickinson, she underwent surgery in 1976 and after that time was known as Roberta Dickinson.  The majority of resources in the Peace Collection cover Robert Dickinson’s protests against the Vietnam War, and in support of war tax resistance.

Barbara Deming (1917-1984)-writer, novelist, and nonviolent direct action activist.  Deming was politically active from the early 1960s until her death in the mid-1980s.  In the 1960s she began to write concerning her sexuality, and integrating her beliefs in feminism with nonviolence.
Collections with holdings on Deming include:
--Committee for Nonviolent Action Records
--Bradford Lyttle Papers
--A.J. Muste Papers
--Tracy D. Mygatt and Frances Witherspoon Papers
--War Resisters League Records

Erna Harris and Mary Sassoon-Harris and Sassoon were African American activists whose peace work came mainly through the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.  Harris was a journalist and newspaper editor and served on the national board of the U.S. Section of WILPF.  Sassoon’s work for WILPF was based in California, where the two women lived together and chair a local branch of the organization.

--Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, U.S. Section Records (contact Peace Collection staff at for more information)
--Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, U.S. Section Records, California Branches (contact Peace Collection staff at for more information)

George Lakey-peace and direct nonviolent activist based in the Philadelphia area, but who inspires and trains activists all over the world.  Lakey has been active for peace and against war since at least the 1960s.
Collections with holdings on Lakey include:
A Quaker Action Group Records
Movement for a New Society Records

Dorothy Marder Collection 12.75 linear feet
Dorothy Marder was a photographer, peace activist, Lesbian and Gay community member, counselor, and disabilities advocate. Her most extensive photographic work concerned women's peace activism (especially Women Strike for Peace), in the New York area between the late 1960s through the 1980s Many of her photographs appeared in peace movement and alternative press publications. Marder photographed well-known peace activists, feminists, and political figures of the last quarter of the twentieth century .
Some of Marder's photographs are in an online exhibit (no separate link yet).
Dorothy Marder also contributed over 60 t-shirts with political messages, see images #141-211 (no separate link yet).

David McReynolds Papers 30 linear feet
David McReynolds (1929 - ), has been a peace activist with the War Resisters League, and active with the Socialist Party USA and the Democratic Socialists of America. He was an editor of Liberation magazine in the 1950s and a leader of the WRL from the 1950s until his retirement in 1999. McReynolds ran for Congress for President of the U.S. twice, including a run in 2000. McReynolds has attempted to integrate anti-war and pacifist philosophy with Socialist economics. David McReynolds is openly gay and written about this topic as well.
Other Collections with holdings on McReynolds include
--War Resisters League Records

Tracy D. Mygatt and Frances Witherspoon Papers-3.1 linear feet
Tracy D. Mygatt (1885-1973) and Frances Witherspoon (1886-1973) both graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 1908.  The women then lived and worked together for more than 60 years. They worked with the War Resisters League, the Women’s Peace Union, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, the Campaign for World Government, as well as writing plays against the lynching of African Americans, and against war.  In 1968 they worked with fellow Bryn Mawr alumae opposing the Vietnam War. Tracy Mygatt and Frances Witherspoon died within months of each other in 1973.
Other collections including holdings on Mygatt and Witherspoon include:
--New York Bureau of  Legal Advice Collected Records
--War Resisters League Records
--Women’s Committee to Oppose Conscription Records
--Women’s Peace Union Records
--Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, U.S. Section Records (contact Peace Collection staff at for more information.)
--Young Democracy Collected Records

Igal Roodenko Papers-3.5 linear feet
Igal Roodenko (1917-1991), was a pacifist, peace and civil rights activist, and advocate of nonviolence. He was a long-time member of the War Resisters League Executive Committee, served on boards of A.J. Muste Memorial Institute and Consortium on Peace Research and Development (COPRED), and near the end of his life was active in Men of All Colors Together.  In 1947 Roodenko, with Bayard Rustin and others, was a participant in the civil rights effort, the Journey of Reconciliation.

Mary E. Woolley- (1863-1947), was an American educator, peace activist and women's suffrage supporter. She served as the 11th President of Mount Holyoke College from 1900-1937. Woolley was the only female U.S. delegate to the Disarmament Conference in Geneva, Switzerland in 1932.  She later served as the president of the Peoples Mandate Committee, an organization dedicated to international cooperation between women’s organizations.  Woolley lived with a long-time companion, Jeanette Marks, a professor of literature and a supporter of the National Woman’s Party.
Collections which include material on Woolley and Marks:
Mary E. Woolley Collected Papers
Peoples Mandate to Governments Records