Swarthmore College Peace Collection

Gerhard Elston Papers, 1849-1992

Collection: DG 165

Contact Information
Swarthmore College Peace Collection
500 College Avenue
Swarthmore, PA 19081-1399
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
Elston, Gerhard (1924-1992)
Gerhard Elston Papers
Inclusive Dates
Call Number
DG 165

Language of Materials
Materials in English
28 linear feet [papers only]
Gerhard Elston served as an officer or staff member in many peace and international organizations including as Executive Director for Amnesty Internationl USA (1978-1981), board member of Clergy and Laity Concerned, Bread for the World, American Christians for the Abolition of Torture, and the American Civil Liberties Union. He died suddenly in 1992 at the age of 68.

Administrative Information
Restrictions to Access
Usage Restrictions
Alternate Form of Material
Acquisitions Information
Gift of Marie-Louise Elston and Bonnie Garchinsky, 1994 [Acc. 94A-077], [Acc. 94A-084]
Processing Information
This collection is only partially processed by SCPC staff. Preliminary checklist prepared by Anne Yoder, October 2003; this version of the finding aid created by Wendy E. Chmielewski, October 2009.
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], in the Gerhard Elston Papers (DG 165), 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

Related Collections
Clergy and Laity Concerned Records, DG 120

Historical Background
Gerhard Elston was born in Berlin, Germany on June 21, 1924. Along with his family he was a teenage refugee in Great Britain, 1939-1941. The Elston family emigrated to the U.S. in 1945. Gerhard Elston served with Signal Corps of the U.S. Army from 1946-1947. After World War II, Elston served with many international organizations as Regional Executive for the World University Service (1958-1963), Director for Work Among International Students for the National Council of Churches (1963-1965), Associate Director of the Department of International Affairs for the National Council of Churces (1965-1973), Director of the [Lutheran] Center for Ethics and Society (1973-1976), Project Director for Theology in the Americas (1976-1978). He was Executive Director for Amnesty Internationl USA from 1978 to 1981, and International Coordinator for the Planetary Initiative for the World We Choose. Elston's other work included helping with Church World Service’s Hungarian emergency resettlement program, acting as editor for the Lutheran World Federation in Geneva, teaching economics and history at Carthage College, and, translating plays and other works and acting as interpreter at various conferences. Elston also served as board member of Bread for the World, Clergy and Laity Concerned, World Student Federation (U.S. Committee), American Christians for the Abolition of Torture, the American Civil Liberties Union’s advisory committee on church/state issues, Christianity and Crisis, International Working Group on Death, Dying and Bereavement Problems, Asian Studies Association, Christians Associated for Relations with Eastern Europe, and Survival International USA. Elston died on October 29, 1992 of massive heart attack.

Elston lived for many years in Levittown, Pennsylvania, with his wife Marie-Louise (Isse) and their three sons (Ken, Dirk and Jan). For last few years of his life Elston lived in Philadelphia with his companion Bonnie Garchinsky.

Collection Overview
Much of this collection remains unprocessed and unorganized. In 1994 Received approximately 108 cartons of completely unorganized files were received from family and friends. This was reduced to 98 boxes by the Curator. In September 2003, the archivist sorted through all material and discarded 3/4 of it (mailings from many groups, photocopies of material from the groups for which Elston worked that did not include anything about his involvement with these groups, newspaper clippings, etc. etc.).

Items removed:
Photographs were removed to the Photograph Collection;
Slides and A-V items were removed to the Audiovisual Collection; p
Periodicals were removed to the Periodical Collection; p
Posters were removed to the Poster Collection;
Some pamphlets etc. were transferred to CDG Subject File collections.

Arrangement of Collection
Biographical information, personal correspondence and family material was separated and labeled as such; almost all of the rest of the collection is in unmarked folders and is totally unorganized.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Box 1
Family papers

Box 2
Personal papers
-- biographical information
-- miscellaneous

Box 3
Personal papers (cont.)
-- personal letters written
-- personal letters received from individuals
-- personal letters received (general), 1930s-1978

Box 4
Personal papers (cont.)
-- personal letters received (general), 1979-1992

Box 5
Personal papers (cont.)
-- personal letters received (general), undated

Boxes 6 - 84
Professional papers
-- work efforts; involvements; correspondence; etc. [most material is in no order]

Box 85
Reference material

This file was last updated on August 21, 2015