Abraham Kaufman Collected Papers, 1942-1997
Collection: CDG-A [formerly DG 205]
Swarthmore College Peace Collection
500 College Avenue
Swarthmore, PA 19081-1399
Telephone: 610-328-8557 (curator)
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (curator)
The Swarthmore College Peace Collection is not the official repository for this collection of papers.
Kaufman, Abraham (1908-2004)
Abraham Kaufman Papers
Language of Materials
Materials in English
1.6 linear feet [papers only]
Restrictions to Access
Alternate Form of Material
Gift of Abraham Kaufman [acc. 01A-010] and Raquel Kaufman Woods (daughter) [acc. 08A-003]
Processed by Anne Yoder, March 2007; added to March 2008. Finding aid revised by Andrew Ciampa, July 2010.
[Identification of item], in the Abraham Kaufman Papers (CDG-A), Swarthmore College Peace Collection
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
Devere Allen Papers (DG 053)
Center on Conscience and War Records (DG 025)
Anna Melissa Graves Papers (DG 015)
Jessie Wallace Hughan Papers (DG 251)
Metropolitan Board for Conscientious Objectors Records (DG 060)
American Civil Liberties Union: National Committee on Conscientious Objectors Records (DG 022)
War Resisters' International Records (DG 039)
War Resisters League Records (DG 040)
Norman J. Whitney Records (DG 061)
[most of this information is from Radical Pacifism by Scott H. Bennett, 2003, p. 25-27]
Abraham Kaufman was born on December 5, 1908. His father, like many Jews, had fled Russian oppression in 1905 or 1906, emigrating to America and settling in the Jewish immigrant community in South Bronx (New York City). Abe grew up hearing debates on socialism in his father's dry goods store. By the time he was ten or twelve, Kaufman was attending socialist street-corner meetings and open air debates. He joined the Young People's Socialist League in 1924, where two years later he met his wife, Ida Yavner. Kaufman considered himself a secular Jew, as well as an atheist and a humanist, joining the Unitarian Bronx Free Fellowship (in 1926) and the Brooklyn Ethical Culture Society (in the 1930s). He met Jessie Wallace Hughan in 1922, who was teaching his tenth-grade English class at the Textile High School. Their joint interest in socialism, and eventually pacifism, led to a thirty-year friendship. On his 18th birthday, Kaufman signed the War Resisters League Declaration and joined the WRL, which had been founded in part by Hughan. In October 1928, Kaufman became the first paid employee of the WRL, earning $10 a week, contributed by Jessie Hughan and her sister (this position eventually resulted in his becoming Executive Secretary). Also in 1928 Kaufman served as treasurer of the United States Committee of Youth Against War and Fascism.
During the 1930s and 1940s, Kaufman assumed several administrative positions in the peace movement. He was Secretary of the United Pacifist Committee and the Joint Peace Board (later renamed the Peace Strategy Board). He resigned from the WRL in 1947. In response to the 1940 draft, Kaufman co-founded the Metropolitan Board for Conscientious Objectors, which provided free, non-sectarian counseling, and sometimes legal aid, to conscientious objectors (COs) in the New York region. Kaufman was affiliated with the Metropolitan Board for Conscientious Objectors for many years. He continued his efforts on behalf of COs after he and his wife moved to Port Charlotte (Florida), where he was involved with the Draft Counseling Service in the 1980s (and 1970s?). In their later years, Abe and Ida took part in local peace activities, joining the Charlotte Citizens for Peace and helping to organize events for the Fellowship of Reconciliation in their area of Florida.
Kaufman hoped to write a history of Jessie Wallace Hughan, and possibly of the WRL as well, but had to eventually admit that it was beyond him. Instead, he shared his knowledge with writers and historians, such as Frances Early and Scott Bennett, who found his notes, correspondence and conversations to be valuable source material.
Abraham Kaufman died in September 2004.
It was originally expected that there would be a fairly large collection of papers given to the SCPC by Abe Kaufman to document his life, but this did not materialize. The original designation of DG 205 for the papers was changed to CDG-A status in March 2007.
Photographs of Abe Kaufman and of the WRL Board Meeting in 1939, etc., were removed to the Photograph Collection [see also War Resisters League (DG 040) photos]. Meeting minutes and other material related to the Metropolitan Board for Conscientious Objectors, as well as the Charlotte Citizens for Peace, were removed to their respective archival collections.
Arrangement of Collection
This material in this collection is arranged as follows: biographical information; efforts re: Frieda Lazarus and her estate; correspondence, 1940s-1990s; involvements; writings; efforts re: history of the WRL and Jessie Wallace Hughan; and, reference material.
Detailed Description of the Collection
Biographical information [includes wife Ida]
Biographical information: CO status papers, 1942 - 1944
Death of Frieda Lazarus
Efforts re: Frieda Lazarus estate as Trustee/Executor, 1969 - 1976
Correspondence, 1970 - 1971
Correspondence, 1972 - 1973
Correspondence, 1975 (January-August)
Correspondence, 1975 (September-December)
Correspondence, 1977 [nothing from 1978; folder includes one letter from 1979]
Correspondence, 1970s (circa)
Correspondence etc. re: political prisoners (COs and others), and civil liberties
Correspondence with Lewis Christian Bohn, 1982 [includes writings by Bohn, 1981 - 1982]
Correspondence with the Swarthmore College Peace Collection staff
Involvement with the Jewish Peace Fellowship
Involvement with the Metropolitan Board for Conscientious Objectors: correspondence
Involvement with the Metropolitan Board for Conscientious Objectors: work with COs (correspondence, visits, etc.) [includes Bent Andresen and Samuel Schoenberg writing from prison]
Involvement with the Metropolitan Board for Conscientious Objectors: miscellaneous
Involvement with the Metropolitan Board for Conscientious Objectors: miscellaneous notes
Involvement with the War Resisters League
Involvement with Charlotte Citizens for Peace (Port Charlotte, Florida)
Involvement with Draft Counseling Service (Port Charlotte, Florida)
Involvement with Fellowship Friends in SouthwestFloridaorida [Fellowship of Reconciliation]
Efforts re: War Resisters League history: outline for writing; notes
Efforts re: War Resisters League history: correspondence; notes
Efforts re: War Resisters League history: notes
Efforts re: War Resisters League history: notes re: WRL and the Peace Now Movement
Efforts re: War Resisters League history: correspondence and notes with/about Jessie Wallace Hughan [founder of WRL]
Efforts re: War Resisters League history: correspondence with writers (Larry Gara, etc.) re: Jessie Wallace Hughan, and the WRL
Efforts re: War Resisters League history: correspondence with Jervis Anderson re: Bayard Rustin and the WRL
Efforts re: War Resisters League history: correspondence etc. with writer/historian Scott Bennett, 1994 - 1997
Efforts re: War Resisters League history: correspondence etc. with writer/historian Frances Early [includes critiques/notes for her articles and book]
Efforts re: War Resisters League history: correspondence etc. with writer/historian Wilma Smith Leland, 1988 - 1990 [includes mss. "Jessie Wallace Hughan: Woman of Courage"]
Efforts re: War Resisters League history: correspondence etc. with writer/historian Michael Young
Reference material: peace/justice groups in Florida
Reference material: mental health clinics in Harlem
Reference material: mss. "A History of Resistance: The War Resisters League, Nonviolence, and the Civil Rights Movement" by David Schimek, 1994
Reference material: miscellaneous, 1929 - 1979
Reference material: miscellaneous, 1980 -