Swarthmore College Peace Collection

Marjorie Swann and Robert Swann Papers, 1949-1972

Collection: DG 264


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.
Creator
Marjorie Swann (February 15, 1921 - March 14, 2014) and Robert Swann (March 26, 1918 - January 13, 2003)
Title
Marjorie Swann and Robert Swann Papers
Inclusive Dates
1949-1972
Call Number
DG 264

Language of Materials
Materials in English
Extent
30 linear inches [papers only]
Abstract
Quaker peace activitists who were particularly well known for their part in nonviolent direct action against nuclear weapons testing and deployment in the 1950s-1960s.

Administrative Information
Restrictions to Access
None
Usage Restrictions
None
Alternate Form of Material
None
Acquisitions Information
Gift of Carol Swann (daughter), November 2015 [acc.2015-070]
Processing Information
Processed, and checklist created, by Anne Yoder, Archivist, November 2015
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], in the Marjorie Swann and Robert Swann Papers (DG 264), Swarthmore College Peace Collection
Copyright Notice
Copyright may have been transferred to the Swarthmore College Peace Collection or may have been retained by the creators/authors (or their descendants), in this collection, 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


Related Collections
Ernest Bromley and Marion Bromley Papers (DG 214)
Committee for Nonviolent Action Records [CNVA] (DG 017)
Omaha Action Committee Collected Records (CDG-A)
Peacemakers Collected Records (CDG-A)
Juanita Morrow Nelson and Wallace F. Nelson Papers (DG 262)

Gene Keyes Collected Papers (CDG-A) [for 50th anniversary of CNVA]

Historical Background
Marj (Marjorie ) Schaffer [Schaefer?] Swann Edwin was born on February 15, 1921 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She was a Quaker peace activist for seven decades. Marj Swann was an early leader of the nonviolent peace movement. She was first arrested at the British Embassy in Washington (D.C.) during a protest against the imprisonment of Gandhi. She married Robert Swann in circa 1946. In 1958, she was arrested for trespassing at a nuclear missile site in Omaha (Nebraska), as part of a civil disobedience campaign named Omaha Action. She was sentenced to prison at Alderson (West Virginia), where she was incarcerated for six months. Marj was the Executive Director of the American Friends Service Committee (New England only?), from the office in Cambridge (Massachusetts) in 1977-1980. Marj, and her husband of the time, Robert, founded the New England Committee for Nonviolent Action (NECNVA) in 1960. Early on they focused on direct action campaigns against nuclear weapons at the Polaris nuclear submarine base in Groton (Connecticut). Based on a farm in Voluntown (Connecticut), they traveled throughout New England organizing vigils, walks, fasts, and caravans regarding draft and military counseling, war tax resistance, civil rights, gay rights, military base conversion, and other issues. They helped to organize the Omaha Action against nuclear missiles, the Quebec-Guantanamo Walk, Polaris Action, and the San Francisco - Moscow Walk. In 1972, Marj underwent a 22-month-long liquid-only fast to protest the Vietnam War, along with Dick Gregory. A charter member of the Congress of Racial Equality ( C.O.R.E.), she was also active with the NAACP, the War Resisters League, the National Committee for Conscientious Objectors, and the Cambridge (Massachusetts) Friends Meeting,

Marj and Robert separated in 1978 and later divorced. They had four children together, and Marj later gained a stepdaughter through her marriage to John F. Edwin. Marj moved to Berkeley (California) in 1996.
She died surrounded by her family at age 93, on March 14, 2014, in her home in Santa Cruz (California).

Robert S. Swann was born on March 26, 1918 in Cleveland Heights (Ohio). He was inducted by the draft on November 14, 1941. His local draft board was unsympathetic to his intention to be a conscientious objector to war, and assigned him I-A status (available and fit for military service). He was arrested on September 22, 1942 for failure to report for the physical examination, though this had happened through a misunderstanding, and was tried on October 16, 1942 for evading the draft. For a time he was held in the Columbus (Ohio) city prison, and then sent to the Ashland FCI prison (Kentucky). He was given a prison parole for farm work (?) in March 1944, and a "public service parole" by July 20, 1945.

After their marriage in 194_, Robert and Marj were a team in their efforts to shut down missile sites through nonviolent direct action, supporting each other and their children when one or the other was involved in a protest or was in prison (Robert was sentenced in 1962 to three months in prison for protesting the launching of the submarine Ethan Allen). They bought a 40-acre farm for $17,000 in Voluntown (Connecticut), which became the base for most protest actions (by the 1970s they had moved to Massachusetts). In 1967, he signed a public statement declaring his intention to refuse to pay income taxes in protest the U.S. war in Vietnam. Robert had a long interest in community land trusts, and in 1969 was a co-founder of New Communities Inc., a 5000 acre land trust in Lee County (Georgia). This was set up to provide community land ownership for landless African-Americans in the South. In the late 1960s, Robert, along with Ralph Borsodi, established the International Independence Institute, which became the Institute for Community Ecomonics in the 1970s. In 1980, Robert founded the E.F. Schumacher Society in Great Barrington (Massachusetts), named for the economist who write Small Is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered in 1973; the society grew to some 2500 active members and supporters. Robert and Susan Witt, a staff member at ICE and Swann's partner after his divorce, were asked in the 1980s to establish a regional land trust in the Berkshires. They loved the area so much that they decided to live there. Robert died of cancer on January 13, 2003 in South Agremont (Maine).


Collection Overview
This collection relates almost entirely to Marj Swann's involvements and public witness against nuclear weapons testing in the 1950s and 1960s. Included are some things by /about her husband of the time, Robert Swann, who was also active in the same issues.

Items removed:
Photographs (4"x5 " / 5"x7" and 8"x10")


Arrangement of Collection
A box of general material and correspondence is followed by five boxes of action files and reference material. It is expected that more material will be donated by the Swann's daughter at some time in the future.


 

Detailed Description of the Collection

Box 1
Biographical information
Correspondence, 1941
Correspondence, 1951-1958
Correspondence, 1959
Correspondence, 1960-1971
Correspondence, undated

Writings; statement
Civil disobedience; tax refusal
Fundraising events/projects/ideas
Seminar "An Outlook for a Third Camp," 1953
World Peace Study Mission/Commission, 1966-1968
Campaign for Rehabilitation of Military Bases, 1969
Case of John Forbes, 1954
Documentary made about A.J. Muste, 1967
Correspondence of A.J. Muste, 1966-1967 (probably unanswered); notes; obituaries (d. February 11, 1967)
Miscellaneous documents
Mailing lists

Box 2
Peacemakers
Peacemakers: financial records, 1957-1959 [Marjorie was treasurer]
Peacemakers: financial records
Peacemakers (Washington, D.C.)
Peacemakers: Walk for Survival, 1958
Prayer and Conscience Vigil, Washington (D.C.), 1957
New England CNVA: vigil at Atomic Energy Commission headquarters, 1958
Walk for Peace, 1958
Walk for Peace, 1958: correspondence
Walk for Peace, 1958: finances
Act for Peace and Walk/s for Peace, 1959
San Francisco to Moscow Walk, 1961
Hanover to Washington Peace Walk (Trident Walk), 1962
Quebec to Guatanemo Walk, 1963
Boston to Pentagon Walk for Peace, 1967
New England CNVA: March Against Death, Washington (D.C.), 1969

Box 3
Training programs, 1957-1959
3rd Annual Training Institute in Non-Violence, Grindstone Island (Portland, Ontario, Canada), 1965: general
3rd Annual Training Institute in Non-Violence, Grindstone Island (Portland, Ontario, Canada), 1965: correspondence
3rd Annual Training Institute in Non-Violence, Grindstone Island (Portland, Ontario, Canada), 1965: notebooks of participants
3rd Annual Training Institute in Non-Violence, Grindstone Island (Portland, Ontario, Canada), 1965: "Personal reports of particular incidents" [role-plays]
3rd Annual Training Institute in Non-Violence, Grindstone Island (Portland, Ontario, Canada), 1965: answers (written) to analytical questionnaire by participants [including George Willoughby]
3rd Annual Training Institute in Non-Violence, Grindstone Island (Portland, Ontario, Canada), 1965: questionnaire to role-playing groups [includes results]
3rd Annual Training Institute in Non-Violence, Grindstone Island (Portland, Ontario, Canada), 1965: preparation for, and correspondence about, booklet 31 Hours
3rd Annual Training Institute in Non-Violence, Grindstone Island (Portland, Ontario, Canada), 1965: transcript of tape/s [used in 31 Hours]
3rd Annual Training Institute in Non-Violence, Grindstone Island (Portland, Ontario, Canada), 1965: booklet The Grindstone Experiment: Thirty-One Hours, a report by Theodore Olson and Gordon Christiansen, 1966
3rd Annual Training Institute in Non-Violence, Grindstone Island (Portland, Ontario, Canada), 1965: rough drafts of Thirty-One Hours


Box 4
4th Annual Training Institute in Non-Violence, Grindstone Island (Portland, Ontario, Canada), 1966: general
4th Annual Training Institute in Non-Violence, Grindstone Island (Portland, Ontario, Canada), 1966: notebook #1 of H. Holmestead
4th Annual Training Institute in Non-Violence, Grindstone Island (Portland, Ontario, Canada), 1966: notebooks #1-4 of Peter Light
4th Annual Training Institute in Non-Violence, Grindstone Island (Portland, Ontario, Canada), 1966: notebooks #1-2 of David Smith
4th Annual Training Institute in Non-Violence, Grindstone Island (Portland, Ontario, Canada), 1966: notebooks #1-3 of Silvia Smith
4th Annual Training Institute in Non-Violence, Grindstone Island (Portland, Ontario, Canada), 1966: notebooks #1-2 of Robert Tenney
4th Annual Training Institute in Non-Violence, Grindstone Island (Portland, Ontario, Canada), 1966: notebook #1 of Carl Zeitlow
5th Annual Training Institute in Non-Violence, Grindstone Island (Portland, Ontario, Canada), 1967: general
Training Institute in Non-Violence, Grindstone Island (Portland, Ontario, Canada), undated
"Golden Rule" Action Committee, 1958-1960
"Golden Rule" Action Committee: contacts
Omaha Action: Nonviolence Against Nuclear Missiles, 1959: general
Omaha Action: Nonviolence Against Nuclear Missiles, 1959: Marjorie's imprisonment, for illegal entry to a military base, at Alderson Federal Reformatory for Women (West Virginia), 1959-
Omaha Action: Nonviolence Against Nuclear Missiles, 1959: Marjorie's refusal to pay fine for trespassing during Omaha Action
Omaha Action: Nonviolence Against Nuclear Missiles, 1959: mss. re: Alderson prison

Box 5
Omaha Action: Nonviolence Against Nuclear Missiles: letters of Marjorie to/from Robert and their children before/during/after Omaha Action, especially while in prison, 1959 (July)

Omaha Action: Nonviolence Against Nuclear Missiles: letters of Marjorie to/from Robert and their children while in prison, 1959 (August)
Omaha Action: Nonviolence Against Nuclear Missiles: letters of Marjorie to/from Robert and their children while in prison, 1959 (September) - 1960 (January 4), undated
Omaha Action: Nonviolence Against Nuclear Missiles: letters to Marjorie and Robert received from non-family, 1959 (July)

Omaha Action: Nonviolence Against Nuclear Missiles: letters to Marjorie and Robert received from non-family, 1959 (August)
Omaha Action: Nonviolence Against Nuclear Missiles: letters to Marjorie and Robert received from non-family, 1959 (September) - 1960 (January), undated
Polaris Action, 1958-1962
Committee on Non-Violent Action (CNVA), 1958
Committee for Nonviolent Action (CNVA), 1966-1967: correspondence, etc. [includes one letter from 1964; most letters are to/from Gordon Christiansen]

Committee for Nonviolent Action (CNVA), circa 1965: legal rights of draft card burners
Committee for Nonviolent Action (CNVA), 1967: CNVA-WRL merger / take-over of WIN magazine
New England CNVA, 1962-1971: general

Box 6
New England CNVA, 1966-1967, 1969: staff meeting notes
New England CNVA: purchase of house in Norwich (Connecticut)
New England CNVA: Polaris Action Farm
New England CNVA: Polaris Action Farm -- accounts of attack on July 15, 1966
New England CNVA, 1970: dedication of A.J. Muste Center at NECNVA farm
New England CNVA: bomb / fall-out shelters
New England CNVA: war tax resistance/resisters
Reference material: general
Reference material: bomb / fall-out shelters
Reference material: draft resistance/refusal
Reference material: music
Reference material: report by Albert Mindlin re: controversy over Wally Nelson and the C.O.R.E., 1954
Reference material: Non-Violent Action Against Nuclear Weapons [org.], 1957-1958



This file was last updated on August 5, 2016