Swarthmore College Peace Collection

Philadelphia Women's Peace Encampment Records, 1983-1988

Collection: DG 157

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
Swarthmore College Peace Collection
Philadelphia Women's Peace Encampment
Philadelphia Women's Peace Encampment Records
Inclusive Dates
Call Number
DG 157

Language of Materials
Materials in English
2 linear feet [papers only]
Philadelphia Women's Peace Encampment was a radical feminist direct-action collective with a focus on issues including nuclear disarmament, anti-militarism, racism, and right-wing repression. It served as an affinity group for the Women's Encampment for a Future of Peace and Justice, based in Romulus, New York.

Administrative Information
Restrictions to Access
None, except that collection is stored off-site
Usage Restrictions
Alternate Form of Material
Acquisitions Information
Gift of the Philadelphia Women's Peace Encampment, 1990
Processing Information
Checklist prepared by Anne Yoder, January 1995; this finding aid prepared by Chloe Lucchesi- Malone, August 2009.
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], in the Philadelphia Women's Peace Encampment Records (DG 157), Swarthmore College Peace Collection
Copyright Notice
Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendents, as stipulated by United States copyright law

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 Philadelphia Women's Peace Encampment began as a project funded by the SANE Education Fund to support the Women's Encampment for a Future of Peace and Justice, which gathered women for eight weeks in the summer of 1983 on a farm adjacent to the Seneca Army Depot (near Romulus, New York). The purpose of the gathering was for women to learn about and protest the escalation of militarism and weapons build-up. Members of the Philadelphia Women's Peace Encampment, inspired by this event and others nationally and internationally, initially deemed itself a local chapter of a global community of women who clearly saw the madness of nuclear weapons and were not afraid to speak against it.

The focus of the Philadelphia Women's Peace Encampment quickly grew from just militarism to embrace a whole range of issues, particularly those prejudices and injustices that create a violent society. They worked against paternalism, right-wing repression, anti-Semitism, U.S. intervention in Central America, and racism in the Philadelphia area and in South Africa. The group developed a membership that was largely lesbian and bi-sexual, so that fighting homophobia was a strong concern as well. They were strongly pro-choice, acting as escorts for women wanting an abortion, to help them through the sometimes violent anti-abortion crowds at the clinics. In fact, they embraced a number of "women's" issues. They began to call themselves a radical feminist direct-action group. Alternate names to Philadelphia Women's Peace Encampment that were proposed and which received the most votes: Adventure in Radical Feminism, Direct Action Feminists Together, and Feminists Interrupting Sexist Traditions.

There was some dissension in the group concerning its focus. At times members protested that they were being too violent and anti-male, and that the issues were becoming too diverse. But in many ways, this diversity of outlook reflected both the peace movement of the 1980s as it began to test the inter-relationships of peace and justice, as well as the feminist movement as it evolved. One member stated that her vision for the Philadelphia Women's Peace Encampment was to "Recognize a model of life which embraces harmony, ecology, balance and reconciliation. . . . [To] try to find creative and nonviolent ways to address [the powers] without resort to oppressive confrontation or abusive competition between artificial 'sides.'" To achieve this they worked on specific projects in coalition with such groups as the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Feminists in Solidarity with the Central American and Caribbean People, and the Brandywine Peace Community.

Because of its orientation toward welding education and action, the Philadelphia Women's Peace Encampment not only produced a newsletter (for a short time) and wrote and distributed leaflets, but did presentations on local radio, sold t-shirts with an original logo, performed street theater, and committed civil disobedience. Some women were even arrested and spent time in jail for their actions. In some circles they became so well known that one correspondent thought they were a national organization. Instead, the group rarely grew to above a dozen women, and they concentrated their activities in Philadelphia, agreeing that they would never schedule anything that could not be reached by public transportation. Their bi-weekly, and sometimes weekly, get-togethers alternated between general meetings and discussion/action groups.

The Philadelphia Women's Peace Encampment is an example of a small group that expended its energies for five years on trying to make a difference in its own locale. The group disbanded in 1988.

Collection Overview
The Philadelphia Women's Peace Encampment records consist of minutes and agendas, promotional material, a small amount of correspondence, material describing the various actions in which the group engaged, reference files and notes, posters, protest signs, a t-shirt, three small banners, two buttons, and two photographs.

The records of the Philadelphia Women's Peace Encampment itself span the years from 1983-1988; also included is material from the Feminist Disarmament Meeting in June 1982, which was the first step in organizing the Women's Encampment for a Future of Peace and Justice in Romulus, New York.

Items removed:
Posters and Protests Signs:
See Poster Collection
T-Shirt and Banners:
See Oversize/Memorabilia area
See Button/Pin/Ribbon Collection:
See Photograph Collection (8" x 10")

Arrangement of Collection
Several members of the Philadelphia Women's Peace Encampment donated their files for the archives and it was organized by the group in 1990. The materials were received in some order. In particular, the minutes and agendas were grouped together, and separate folders made for each action/event. Folders in boxes have been arranged so that organizational files appear first, then the "actions" undertaken by the group, followed by the material they gathered on women's peace encampments and issues of concern.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Box 1 [stored off-site]
History and general information
Organization (first steps)
Article re: Philadelphia Women's Peace Encampment in Off Our Backs: A Women's Newsjournal, Vol XVII 1987 (February)
Minutes, 1984-1985
Minutes, 1986
Minutes, 1987-1988
Correspondence from Ursel Kornfeld of Germany [circa 1983]
Press packet
Mailing lists
Requests for information, 1983
Philadelphia Women's Peace Encampment newsletter articles & logo
Response to newsletter, February 1984
Outreach and coalition work

Box 2 [stored off-site]
Women's Pentagon Action, 1981-1982
Street theater performance, 1983 (July 4)
Civil disobedience at Franklin Plaza Hotel, Philadelphia, 1983 (October 6)
Cafe America action, Spring 1984
Nuclear weapons protest at Navy Yard, August 1984 [Hiroshima Day]
Not In Our Name: A Women's Resistance Action, 1984
Cynthia Enloe on women in the military (proposed event with . . . ) [circa 1984]
"Pump Iron, Not Lead" war games protest [circa 1984]
Pledge-a-picketer campaign
Anti-racist work, 1985-1987
Balloon release protesting nuclear weapons at main gate of Seneca Army Depot, 1986 (July)
"Do You Still Want to Change the World" retreat, 1986
Big Mountain protest, 1986
Wages for Housework Campaign, 1986-1987
South Africa/apartheid protests, [circa 1986 or 1987]
New Right/Fundamentalist movement protest, [circa 1986 or 1987]

Box 3 [stored off-site]
Pro-Choice actions, [circa 1987]
Lesbian/Gay rights march, 1987 (October)
Protest against Bishop Anthony Bevilacqua of Philadelphia, [circa 1987-1988]
Summer Feminist Frolic [circa 1988]
Feminist disarmament meeting, 1982 (June 11)
Chain letter/fundraiser for Seneca Women's Peace Camp, 1983 (Summer)
Seneca Women's Peace Encampment, 1983 (Summer)
Seneca Women's Peace Encampment, 1984-1986
Puget Sound Women's Peace Encampment

Box 4 [stored off-site]
International peace camps, 1983-1985
Other women's peace encampments
Feminism and the peace movement
Sonia Johnson for President
Anti-Militarism #1
Anti-Militarism #2

This file was last updated on August 27, 2015