Swarthmore College Peace Collection

Student Peace Union Records, 1959-1967

Collection: DG 065


Contact Information
Swarthmore College Peace Collection
500 College Avenue, Swarthmore, PA 19081-1399 U.S.A.
Telephone: (610) 328-8557 (Curator); Fax: (610) 328-8544
Email: wchmiel1@swarthmore.edu (Curator); URL: http://www.swarthmore.edu/Library/peace/


Descriptive Summary
Repository
The Swarthmore College Peace Collection is the official repository for these papers/records.
Creator
Student Peace Union
Title
Student Peace Union Records
Dates
1959-1967
Call Number
DG 065

Language of Materials
Materials in English
Extent
5 linear feet [papers only]
Abstract
The Student Peace Union was founded at the University of Chicago in 1959. It was an intercollegiate student group whose members believed that neither war nor the threat of war could any longer be successfully used to settle international disputes.

Administrative Information
Restrictions to Access
None
Usage Restrictions
None
Alternate Form of Material
None
Acquisitions Information
Gift of the War Resisters League (which had housed the SPU office in New York, New York), 1969 [Acc. 69-133]
Processing Information
Reprocessed by Anne Yoder, Archivist, November 2013
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], in the Student Peace Union Records (DG 065), Swarthmore College Peace Collection
Copyright Notice
Copyright may have been transferred to the Swarthmore College Peace Collection. Copy right to some items in this collection may have been retained by the creators/authors (or their descendents), as stipulated by United States copyright law. Please contact the SCPC Curator for further information.

Online Catalog Headings
These and related materials may be found under the following headings in online library/archival catalogs.
See tripod record


Historical Background
The Student Peace Union (SPU) was founded at the University of Chicago in 1959. It was an intercollegiate student group whose members believed that neither war nor the threat of war could any longer be successfully used to settle international disputes. The SPU merged with the College Peace Union in 1960; two years later membership peaked at 3500. Philip G. Altbach was national chairman. The SPU was headquartered in Chicago until 1964, when that office was closed down and re-opened in New York. In February 1967 the SPU merged with Campus Americans for Democratic Action to become the Independent Student Union.

According to the online Wikipedia website:

The Student Peace Union was a nationwide student organization active on college campuses in the United States from 1959 to 1964. Its national headquarters were located near the campus of the University of Chicago. The SPU was founded by Ken Calkins, who had gained notoriety when his pelvis was fractured when he ran in front a truck during a pacifist demonstration against nuclear weapons at Cheyenne, Wyoming. He had returned to Chicago and became educational director for the local American Friends Service Committee. As part of his duties in that position he conducted a number of peace seminars at local Chicago high schools, where he developed a number of contacts with local students. By the spring of 1959 this network had been organized in the Student Peace Union, and had about 100 members by the end of the school year. In 1960 it merged with the Fellowship of Reconciliation-affiliated College Peace Union, which had several campus chapters in the Northeast. By December 1961 the group 1,500 members in dozens of campuses in the Midwest and Northeast, and a year later would expand to 3,500 members, with inroads on the West Coast and South. From the beginning the Young People's Socialist League, then under the influence of the Shachtmanites poured its members into the group and tried to give it a "Third camp" direction—rejecting both Western capitalism and Soviet communism as equally imperialist.

The SPU organized a number of protests and vigils at the White House. The first was in November 1961 against the resumption of nuclear testing. To their surprise President Kennedy displayed some sympathy for the group, having his disarmament advisers confer with picket leaders and receiving their petitions. A second protest, the "Washington Action" drew 5,000 students in February 1962. Kennedy sent them an urn of coffee on the first day of the protest, which was held during a snowstorm. The event was co-sponsored by Student SANE, the Students for a Democratic Society (which at the time had a tenth of the membership of SPU) and a Harvard affiliate of the SPU called TOCSIN, which was led by Todd Gitlin. TOCSIN was able to initiate some contacts with Senators and State Department officials, combining the protest march with lobbying efforts.

The SPU continued its protests against nuclear testing that spring, when they engaged in the first confrontation between police and anti-war protesters of the decade in New York. During the Cuban Missile Crisis that October the group sponsored demonstrations across the country, including a march in front of the White House that drew 2,000 people. When the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was signed in the wake of the crisis it was a mixed blessing for the SPU. While they had always been against nuclear testing, so much of its identity was bound up with anti-nuclear war activism that it struggled to find a new footing. Furthermore it was undermined by the factional struggles within the YPSL between the Shachtmanite "realignment tendency" -- which favored socialist entry into the Democratic party—and the more non-electoral "labor party tendency" led by Mike Parker. The Shachtmanites tried to dilute the labor party tendency's control of SPU by urging a merger with Student SANE, but this fell through. Debated among the YPSLs over when, if ever, to support peace candidates and questions over foreign policy consumed the top leadership and the organization dissolved in the spring of 1964.

A second incarnation of the Student Peace Union was formed in the fall of 1964 by some of the young SPU members and David McReynolds. While not very prominent nationally, it had chapters on a few campuses not otherwise known for New Left activism - Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, St. Peter's College, Idaho State University and Rocky Mountain College. It merged with the Campus Americans for Democratic Action to form the Independent Student Union in 1967.

More records of the Student Peace Union are held by the State Historical Society of Wisconsin and by the Taniment Library (http://dlib.nyu.edu/findingaids/html/tamwag/tam_057/).

Collection Overview
The collection includes administrative files, correspondence, reports of organizational activity, with information on branch activities and local high schools, and reference files.

Arrangement of Collection
The SPU records are organized in the following order: National SPU records; New York City Regional records; regional/chapter records; and, reference files.



Detailed Description of the Collection

Box 1
National Office: constitution
National Office: history of organization
National Office: history of organization -- mss. "Student Peace Union: Five Years Before the New Left" by Howard Metzenberg, 1978
National Office: membership of Steering Committee and National Advisory Council
National Office: vote on nominations for the Advisory Council, 1965
National Office: meeting minutes of the Steering Committee and of the National Advisory Council
National Office: Political Action Committee
National Office:
official and proposed program/policy statements (and guidelines)
National Office: statements / opinions
National Office: resolutions
National Office: form letters / mailings sent
National Office: use of peace symbol
National Office: financial records; fundraising

Box 2
National Office:
Speakers Bureau
National Office: publicity / press releases
National Office: media coverage of SPU
National Office: member lists / mailing lists
National Office: literature created
National Office: literature created -- brochures about the SPU
National Office: literature created -- "Organizer's Handbook"
National Office: literature created -- booklet "Peace and Politics 1962" (by Washington Office)
National Office: literature created -- booklet "ROTC: An Analysis"
National Office: literature created -- pamphlet "SPU High School Handbook"
National Office: literature created -- notes re: handbook and newsletter

National Office: literature created -- production of peace buttons (and seals?)
National Office: poll / ballots
National Office: vote on statement of principles, 1965 [includes correspondence]
National Office: vote re: participation in New York City meetings and events, 1965
National Office: vote for new Steering Committee, 1966
National Office: vote re: support for 5th Avenue (NYC) parade, 1965 [includes correspondence]
National Office: vote re: 1966 convention voting [includes correspondence]
National Office: vote re: possible savings fund, 1966
National Office: vote re: National Secretary, 1967- [includes correspondence]

Box 3
National Office: programmatic efforts, 1959
National Office: programmatic efforts, 1960
National Office: programmatic efforts, 1961
National Office: programmatic efforts, 1962
National Office: programmatic efforts, 1962 -- Washington Project
National Office: programmatic efforts, 1963
National Office: programmatic efforts, 1964-1966
National Office: programmatic efforts, 1966 -- Washington Summer Action
National Office: programmatic efforts, 1966 -- response to murder of Addison Wilkins (former staff worker for SPU)
National Office: programmatic efforts, undated
National Office: notebook of Deborah Lamb [includes SPU mailing list]
National Office: correspondence, 1960-1962
National Office: correspondence, 1963 (January-March)
National Office: correspondence, 1963 (April-June)
National Office: correspondence, 1963 (July-December)

Box 4
National Office: correspondence, 1964 (January-August)
National Office: correspondence, 1964 (September)
National Office: correspondence, 1964 (October-December)
National Office: correspondence, 1965 (January)
National Office: correspondence, 1965 (February)
National Office: correspondence, 1965 (March)
National Office: correspondence, 1965 (April)
National Office: correspondence, 1965 (May)
National Office: correspondence, 1965 (June-July)
National Office: correspondence, 1965 (August)
National Office: correspondence, 1965 (September)
National Office: correspondence, 1965 (October)
National Office: correspondence, 1965 (November-December)

Box 5
National Office: correspondence, 1966 (January-February)
National Office: correspondence, 1966 (March)
National Office: correspondence, 1966 (April)
National Office: correspondence, 1966 (May)
National Office: correspondence, 1966 (June)
National Office: correspondence, 1966 (July)
National Office: correspondence, 1966 (August)
National Office: correspondence, 1966 (September)
National Office: correspondence, 1966 (October)
National Office: correspondence, 1966 (November)
National Office: correspondence, 1966 (December)
National Office: correspondence, 1967
National Office: correspondence, undated

Box 6
National Office: national convention, 1961
National Office: national convention, 1962
National Office: national convention, 1963
National Office: national convention, 1964 -- general
National Office: national convention, 1964 -- registrations
National Office: national convention, 1965
National Office: national convention, 1966 -- general
National Office: national convention, 1966 -- registrations

Box 7
New York Regional Office: meeting minutes, 1962-1964 [incomplete set]
New York Regional Office: financial records, 1963-1964
New York Regional Office: fundraising
New York Regional Office: cards with donor information
New York Regional Office: form letters / mailings sent
New York Regional Office: correspondence and orders for resources, 1961-1962
New York Regional Office: correspondence and orders for resources, 1963
New York Regional Office: correspondence, 1962
New York Regional Office: correspondence, 1963
New York Regional Office: correspondence, 1964 (January)
New York Regional Office: correspondence, 1964 (February)
New York Regional Office: correspondence, 1964 (March)
New York Regional Office: correspondence, 1964 (April)

Box 8
New York Regional Office: correspondence, 1964 (May)
New York Regional Office: correspondence, 1964 (June-August)
New York Regional Office: correspondence, 1964 (September-November)
New York Regional Office: correspondence, 1964 (no months noted)
New York Regional Office: correspondence, 1965-1966; undated
New York Regional Office: planning for newsletter
New York Regional Office: membership lists
New York Regional Office: programmatic efforts, 1962
New York Regional Office: programmatic efforts, 1962 -- demonstration, March 7
New York Regional Office: programmatic efforts, 1962 -- High School Conference
New York Regional Office: programmatic efforts, 1962 -- Hiroshima Day observance
New York Regional Office: programmatic efforts, 1962 -- Washington Project
New York Regional Office: programmatic efforts, 1963
New York Regional Office: programmatic efforts, 1963 -- Weekend Educational Conference, April 19-21
New York Regional Office: programmatic efforts, 1963 -- Easter Peace Walk / Student Peace Walk
New York Regional Office: programmatic efforts, 1964
New York Regional Office: programmatic efforts, 1964 -- Easter Peace Walk
New York Regional Office: programmatic efforts, 1964 -- Schlomo Carlebach concert
New York Regional Office: programmatic efforts, 1964 -- World Peace Study Mission
New York Regional Office: programmatic efforts, 1965-1966, undated
New York Regional Office: programmatic efforts, 1966 -- Southern Regional Field Trip
New York Regional Office: programmatic efforts, undated -- aids for peace action

Box 9
Region: Central Atlantic Regional Council
Region/s: Delaware Valley Regional Council, Pennsylvania
Region/s: Middle Atlantic
Regions: New England Regional Council
Region/s: Philadelphia Regional Council
Region/s: Southern California
Regional chapter/s: miscellaneous
Regional chapter/s: Alabama -- general/miscellaneous
Regional chapter/s: Alabama – Birmingham
Regional chapter/s: Arizona – Tempe; Tuscon
Regional chapter/s: Arkansas -- general/miscellaneous
Regional chapter/s: Arkansas – Little Rock
Regional chapter/s: California -- general/miscellaneous
Regional chapter/s: Colorado – Colorado State College
Regional chapter/s: Colorado – University of Colorado
Regional chapter/s: Connecticut -- general/miscellaneous
Regional chapter/s: District of Columbia (Washington)
Regional chapter/s: Florida -- general/miscellaneous
Regional chapter/s: Florida – Florida State University
Regional chapter/s: Florida – University of Florida
Regional chapter/s: Georgia / Hawaii -- general/miscellaneous
Regional chapter/s: Idaho – Idaho State University
Regional chapter/s: Illinois -- general/miscellaneous
Regional chapter/s: Illinois – Southern Illinois University
Regional chapter/s: Illinois – New Trier High School, Chicago
Regional chapter/s: Indiana / Iowa -- general/miscellaneous
Regional chapter/s: Kansas -- general/miscellaneous
Regional chapter/s: Kansas – Kansas State University
Regional chapter/s: Kansas – Kansas University; University of Kansas
Regional chapter/s: Kentucky -- general/miscellaneous
Regional chapter/s: Louisiana – New Orleans
Regional chapter/s: Maine / Maryland / Massachusetts -- general/miscellaneous
Regional chapter/s: Maryland -- general/miscellaneous
Regional chapter/s: Massachusetts – College Peace Union, Cambridge
Regional chapter/s: Massachusetts – Boston University
Regional chapter/s: Massachusetts -- Brandeis University
Regional chapter/s: Michigan – Eastern Michigan University
Regional chapter/s: Michigan – Michigan State University
Regional chapter/s: Michigan – University of Michigan
Regional chapter/s: Minnesota / Mississippi
Regional chapter/s: Missouri – Washington University
Regional chapter/s: Montana -- general/miscellaneous
Regional chapter/s: Nebraska / New Hampshire -- general/miscellaneous
Regional chapter/s: New Hampshire – Dartmouth College

Box 10
Regional chapter/s: New Jersey -- general/miscellaneous
Regional chapter/s: New Jersey – Essex County
Regional chapter/s: New Jersey – Hackensack
Regional chapter/s: New Jersey – Metuchen High School
Regional chapter/s: New Jersey – Montclair State College
Regional chapter/s: New Jersey – Morristown
Regional chapter/s: New Jersey -- Princeton
Regional chapter/s: New York -- general/miscellaneous
Regional chapter/s: New York – members-at-large chapter
Regional chapter/s: New York – Bard College
Regional chapter/s: New York – Bronx High School of Science
Regional chapter/s: New York – Brooklyn College affiliate
Regional chapter/s: New York – Central Nassau and East Meadow
Regional chapter/s: New York – City College of New York
Regional chapter/s: New York – Columbia University
Regional chapter/s: New York – Croton-on-Hudson
Regional chapter/s: New York – Forest Hills High School
Regional chapter/s: New York – Francis Lewis High School
Regional chapter/s: New York – George Washington High School, NYC
Regional chapter/s: New York – Hastings-on-Hudson
Regional chapter/s: New York – Hobart College
Regional chapter/s: New York – Hofstra Chapter / Hofstra University
Regional chapter/s: New York – Hunter College / Hunter uptown
Regional chapter/s: New York – Jamaica-Flushing
Regional chapter/s: New York – King’s Highway
Regional chapter/s: New York – Long Island
Regional chapter/s: New York – Lynbrook High School
Regional chapter/s: New York – Metropolitan High School
Regional chapter/s: New York – New York City (off campus chapter)
Regional chapter/s: New York – Pratt
Regional chapter/s: New York – Queens College
Regional chapter/s: New York – Queens County

Box 11
Regional chapter/s: New York – Richmond County
Regional chapter/s: New York – Rockland County
Regional chapter/s: New York – South Shore
Regional chapter/s: New York – State University of New York, Buffalo
Regional chapter/s: New York – State University of New York, Stony Brook
Regional chapter/s: New York – Syracuse
Regional chapter/s: New York – University of Rochester
Regional chapter/s: New York – West Hempstead
Regional chapter/s: New York – Westchester County
Regional chapter/s: New York – Yonkers
Regional chapter/s: North Carolina – Chapel Hill
Regional chapter/s: North Dakota -- general/miscellaneous
Regional chapter/s: Ohio -- general/miscellaneous
Regional chapter/s: Ohio – Antioch College
Regional chapter/s: Ohio – Bowling Green State University
Regional chapter/s: Ohio -- Oberlin
Regional chapter/s: Ohio -- Ohio State University
Regional chapter/s: Ohio – Shaker Heights
Regional chapter/s: Oklahoma / Oregon -- general/miscellaneous
Regional chapter/s: Pennsylvania -- general/miscellaneous
Regional chapter/s: Pennsylvania – Pennsylvania State College
Regional chapter/s: Pennsylvania – Philadelphia
Regional chapter/s: Pennsylvania – University of Pennsylvania
Regional chapter/s: Rhode Island – Brown University
Regional chapter/s: South Carolina / South Dakota -- general/miscellaneous
Regional chapter/s: Tennessee -- general/miscellaneous
Regional chapter/s: Tennessee – Chattanooga
Regional chapter/s: Texas -- general/miscellaneous
Regional chapter/s: Texas – Brownwood
Regional chapter/s: Texas – Dallas; Houston
Regional chapter/s: Utah – University of Utah
Regional chapter/s: Vermont / Virginia -- general/miscellaneous
Regional chapter/s: Washington (state) -- general/miscellaneous
Regional chapter/s: Washington – Tacoma
Regional chapter/s: Washington – Western Washington College
Regional chapter/s: Wisconsin -- general/miscellaneous
Regional chapter/s: Wisconsin – Milwaukee

Box 12
Reference material: conferences
Reference material: draft resistance
Reference material: elections in Mississippi
Reference material: H-bombs / A-bombs
Reference material: nonviolence / nonviolent resistance
Reference material: peace
Reference material: peace groups and organizations
Reference material: mss. "Peace Politics: A Study of the American Peace Movement and the Politics of the 1962 Congressional Elections" by Paul Booth, 1964
Reference material: papers (mss.) on poverty, social action, etc.
Reference material: working papers on poverty in eastern Kentucky
Reference material: student actions [newsclippings, etc.]
Reference material: student groups
Reference material: student group -- College Peace Union
Reference material: Vietnam war



 




This file was last updated on November 19, 2013