Swarthmore College Peace Collection, 500 College Avenue, Swarthmore, PA 19081 U.S.A.

No-Conscription Fellowship

The SCPC is not the official repository of the records of the NCF

Document Group: CDG-B Great Britain

Provenance: Unknown

Size: 2.5 linear inches

Restrictions: None

Microfilm: Reel 9 (periodical The Tribunal only)

Finding Aid: Collection processed & checklist completed by Anne Yoder, March 2005

This checklist is the property of the Swarthmore College Peace Collection.

Historical Introduction

The No-Conscription Fellowship began in the autumn of 1914 when A. Fenner Brockway, at the suggestion of his wife, wrote a letter inviting all who were prepared personally to resist conscription to communicate with him; this letter was published in the Labour Leader and by Nov. 1914, the NCF was launched. The 300 or so original members elected the first committee, which included Brockway, Clifford Allen (Lord Allen of Hurtwood) and C.H. Norman. In the early days, the cottage of the Brockways was the Fellowship's headquarters, with his wife doing nearly all of the secretarial work. By early 1915, however, the membership had grown so large that it was necessary to open an office in London, where Allen was largely responsible for the NCF's organization and activities. When compulsory registration was enforced in Aug. 1915, the members of the NCF issued a common statement, expressing their determination not to serve in the military or to be involved in war work. When the first Military Service Bill was introduced, the NCF distributed over a million leaflets and organized hundreds of meetings. It had ten thousand members, with branches established all over the country. Prominent people involved with the NCF included Walter Ayles, H. Runham Brown, Bertrand Russell, Henry Hodgkin and Edith Ellis.

During the three year period when conscription was enforced in Great Britain, the NCF was the only organization which presented an unceasing and unequivocal opposition to the war. It worked in cooperation with the Independent Labour Party, the Society of Friends, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, and other pacifist groups. It maintained contact with the hundreds of men who resisted conscription, many of whom had been arrested and imprisoned, and frequently arranged for their defense in court, provided for their dependents in cases of need, and sponsored through sympathetic M.P.s the discussion, in the House of Commons, of the COs' treatment in the prisons and camps. The NCF earned a national reputation, and with its highlighting of the position and treatment of the COs it created sufficiently fertile ground for the No More War Movement in 1921. Many of the leaders of the NCF went on to positions of national leadership, some in Parliament.

In 1919, the Conscription Act was repealed and all imprisoned COs were gradually released. The final convention of the NCF was held in Nov. 1919, at which time it was decided to disband, leaving three committees to carry on various aspects of the NCF's mission (the Anti-Conscription Committee, the Pacifist Committee, and the Committee to Oppose Military Training in Schools); these ceased to exist within a year or two.

Scope of the Collection

The complete files of the No-Conscription Fellowship are undoubtedly in Great Britain, though it is unknown by SCPC staff exactly where they are located. There are no provenance notes in the SCPC office files to state where the SCPC's small collection of NCF files came from, though it is likely that they were removed from the papers of William Hull and A. Fenner Brockway and combined in the early days of the Peace Collection.

The C.O.'s Hansard #1-90, 1916-1919 and The Tribunal #1-182 (London, England), 1916-1920 [also on microfilm reel 9] in this collection were removed to the Periodical Collection.

See also the collected papers of Clifford Allen (CDGB Great Britain) and A. Fenner Brockway (Great Britain)

Contents of the Collection

Box 1 (1/2 box)
General; history
Programmatic efforts & publications, 1914-1915
- miscellaneous material
- pamphlet "Christianity A Danger to the State" by Laurence Housman, ca. 1914

Programmatic efforts & publications, 1916
- miscellaneous material
- pamphlet "Conscription and Conscience: Presidential Address by Clifford Allen to the National Convention of the No-Conscription Fellowship, November 27th, 1915," 1916
- pamphlet "Rex v. Bertrand Russell: Report of the Proceedings Before the Lord Mayor at the Mansion House Justice Room, 5 June 1916"
- pamphlet "The Out-And-Outer" by Miles Malleson, Sept. 1916
- pamphlet "A C.O. In Prison" by W.J. Chamberlain, 1916
- pamphlet "Why I Am A Conscientious Objector: Being Answer to the Tribunal Catechism" by Walter Ayles, A. Fenner Brockway, A. Barratt Brown, Clement Bundock, J.H. Hudson, R.O. Mennell and Hubert Peet

Programmatic efforts & publications, 1917-1918
- miscellaneous material
- pamphlet "Scraps of Paper: An Examination of Government Pledges With Regard to Conscientious Objectors and the Present Position of 1,137 Men in Prison," ca. 1917-1918
- 2 pages of graphics/cartoons from "The News Sheet," 1917
- flyer "Conscientious Objectors: The 'Absolutists' and the 'Ungenuines.' The Present Position and a Suggestion," March 1917

Programmatic efforts & publications, 1919-1920
- miscellaneous material
- pamphlet "Agenda of the National Convention, Saturday and Sunday, November 29th & 30th, 1919, at the Friends' Meeting House, Devonshire House, Bishopsgate, E.C."
- pamphlet "The No-Conscription Fellowship: A Souvenir Of Its Work During the Years 1914-1919"

Programmatic efforts & publications, undated
- miscellaneous material
- pamphlet "Studies For Pacifists: A Guide to Reading" by A. Barratt Brown
- pamphlet "The Court-Martial Friend and Prison Guide"
- pamphlet "The Failure of War" by H.P. Adams
- pamphlet "Pacifism As A Practical Policy" by H.P. Adams

Croyden Branch, 1916-1917
- handwritten booklet of meeting minutes, 1916
- handwritten "Report of Associates Committee, Work Between March 11 and May 15th, 1916"

- handwritten list "Present Position of Single Men, Dec. 1916"
- handwritten list "Court-Martials, Feb. 1917 to Feb. 1918"
"Manchester C.O. Journal," July 1918, Nov. 1918, Jan. 1919, March 1919

Swarthmore College Peace Collection [http://www.swarthmore.edu/Library/peace/index.html]

For more information, contact Wendy Chmielewski, Curator, at wchmiel1@ swarthmore.edu or call 610-328-8557.

For other resources, see the college's online library catalog (Tripod).

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