Swarthmore College Peace Collection

Committee for Nonviolent Action Records, 1958-1968

Collection: DG 017


Contact Information
Swarthmore College Peace Collection
500 College Avenue, Swarthmore, PA 19081-1399 U.S.A.
Telephone: 610-328-8557 (curator); Fax: 610-690-5728
Email: wchmiel@swarthmore.edu (curator)
URL: http://www.swarthmore.edu/Library/peace/


Descriptive Summary
Repository
Swarthmore College Peace Collection
Creator
Committee for Nonviolent Action
Title
Committee for Nonviolent Action Records
Inclusive Dates
1958-1968
Call Number
DG 017

Language of Materials
Materials in English
Extent
18.75 linear feet [papers only]
Abstract
CNVA was one of the first American peace groups to focus on nonviolentdirect action including civil disobedience. Its purpose of organizing imaginative and dramatic protest demonstrations on both land and sea attracted radical pacifists and called the attention of the American public to the atrocities of nuclear warfare. CNVA's first protest action was a vigil held outside the atomic weapons test grounds in Las Vegas, Nevada, in 1957. In the second half of its existence CNVA efforts began to focus on Vietnam. The organization allied its resources with other American peace groups. As other American peace groups adopted CNVA's methods of dramatic and nonviolent demonstrations, its own numbers and support waned. In the fall of 1967, CNVA voted to merge with the War Resisters League, which became reality in January 1968.


Administrative Information
Restrictions to Access
None
Usage Restrictions
None
Alternate Form of Material
see below
Acquisitions Information
Gift of / deposited by: Bradford Lyttle, Gene Keyes (NECNVA), War Resisters League, David Brown (NECNVA), Mark Morris (CNVA-West). Received: 1968, 1969, 1976, 1979, 1984
Processing Information
Processed by Peace Collection staff, 1984, 1995, 2007.
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], in the Records of the Committee for Nonviolent Action (DG 017), 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
War Resisters League Records (DG 040)
A.J. Muste Papers (DG 050)


Historical Background
"Because of the grave dangers to the future of mankind in the nuclear testing policies of the three leading nations of the world, we call upon men everywhere to consider non-violent direct action against the evil of nuclear tests." These were the opening words of the call to Non-Violent Action Against Nuclear Weapons, an ad hoc committee organized in May l957 by Quaker pacifist Lawrence Scott, to protest against nuclear tests in Las Vegas, Nevada. In September l958, this ad hoc committee reorganized as a permanent committee, the Committee for Nonviolent Action, sponsored at first by the Fellowship for Reconciliation, Friends Peace Committee of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, War Resisters League, and Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. Early leaders of both NVAANW and CNVA, besides Scott, included A.J. Muste, George Willoughby, Lyle Tatum, Bayard Rustin, Ralph diGia, Theodore Olson, and Albert Bigelow. Headquartered at first in Philadelphia, CNVA soon moved to New York City.

CNVA was one of the first American peace groups to focus on nonviolentdirect action including civil disobedience. Its purpose of organizing imaginative and dramatic protest demonstrations on both land and sea attracted radical pacifists and called the attention of the American public to the atrocities of nuclear warfare. CNVA was not a membership organization but rather requested those interested to participate in its demonstrations and to commit themselves to the discipline of nonviolence.

The Committee itself had approximately 65 members. Decisions were made by its Executive Committee. Regional offices soon sprang up elsewhere in the United States, the most prominent being New England CNVA in Voluntown, Connecticut, under the leadership of Marjorie and Robert Swann and CNVA West in San Francisco, California.

CNVA's first protest action was a vigil held outside the atomic weapons test grounds in Las Vegas, Nevada, in 1957. The following year, the Golden Rule set sail for the South Pacific test area but its crew was stopped and arrested in Honolulu. Earle and Barbara Reynolds continued the effort aboard the Phoenix and successfully entered the test waters. CNVA sponsored Omaha Action in l959 to protest construction of intercontinental ballistic missiles, and, in 1960, Polaris Action began, coordinated by NECNVA and aimed against the missile-carrying Polaris submarine being constructed in New London. In each and indeed almost every CNVA demonstration, its people were arrested and jailed, submitting peacefully to the indignities and attacks from irate police and public. These events made news headlines everywhere, focusing national attention on them.

Two of the largest CNVA projects were the San Francisco to Moscow Walk for Peace and later, the Quebec-Washington-Guantanamo Walk for Peace. The first event began when walkers left San Francisco in December 1960 and ended in October l961, 6000 miles later, in Moscow, after CNVA marchers called on governments of all nations to disarm. The Quebec Walk began in 1963 with feeder walks strengthening its numbers. Civil rights became a major issue when walkers were beaten and jailed in Atlanta, Georgia. Because of a U.S. ban on travel to Cuba, the marchers were unable to leave Miami.

In the second half of its existence, additional CNVA leadership was provided by Neil Haworth as national secretary and Eric Weinberger as Field Secretary. In the middle 1960s, CNVA efforts began to focus on Vietnam. A.J. Muste, Brad Lyttle, and Barbara Deming were sent to Saigon but were deported for picketing the United States Embassy. A War Tax Protest with phony Thoreau Money was instituted in 1966. In addition to the organizations that initially sponsored it, CNVA allied its resources with other American peace groups, including CCCO, SANE, the Catholic Peace Fellowship, Congress of Racial Equality, the New York Fifth Avenue Vietnam Peace Parade Committee, the Peacemakers, and Turn Toward Peace. CNVA had its own periodicals including CNVA Bulletin and Polaris Action Bulletin, and worked on WIN magazine begun in 1966 by its affiliate, the New York Workshop in Nonviolence.

As other American peace groups adopted CNVA's methods of dramatic and nonviolent demonstrations, its own numbers and support waned. The death in 1967 of Muste, who had been national chairman since 1959, was another blow, and, in the fall of 1967, CNVA voted to merge with the War Resisters League, which became reality in January l968.

Collection Overview
CNVA records span the years from 1957 when this organization began as Non-Violent Action Against Nuclear Weapons until 1967 when the decision was made to merge with War Resisters League [January 1968]. The New England Committee for Nonviolent Action [NECNVA] records continue until 1972 when it became the Community for Nonviolent Action, whose records continue into 1973. As the name suggests, the Committee for Nonviolent Action directed its resources against war-related activities by organizing and participating in nonviolent demonstrations including the attempted voyage of the Golden Rule and the sailings of Everyman into atomic test sites, the San Francisco to Moscow and Quebec- Washington-Guantanamo Walks for Peace, and Polaris Action against nuclear submarines. The bulk of CNVA material pertains to these projects, found especially in Series VI where releases, correspondence, and accounts document these activities, and in Series VII, which is a collection of original scrapbooks containing newsclippings, logs, and printed releases.

There are incomplete minutes of the CNVA executive committee as well as NECNVA, other branches, and sub-committees. Releases printed by CNVA include flyers, mailings for fund solicitation or to people of prominence, and news releases. There are memoranda used for inter-office, inter-branch, and inter-organization communication, both printed for wide distribution or drafted in typed or handwritten form.

There is correspondence throughout these records which is found mostly in Series V. Of importance are letters written by A.J. Muste, Neil Haworth, Bradford Lyttle, and Lawrence Scott, leaders of CNVA. NECNVA records contain correspondence of Marjorie and Robert Swann, a file on Polaris Action which it directed, and the papers of David Brown, a staff member. There is also material from other branches, particularly from CNVA-West which had many active members involved in various protests.

There are complete series of the periodicals CNVA Bulletin, Polaris Action Bulletin, and Direct Action. These records also contain photographs, correspondence and mailings with other peace organizations including the World Peace Brigade, a subject file and CNVA reference material.

Besides those mentioned above, correspondents include Barbara Deming, Scott Herrick, Gene Keyes, Ed Lazar, Barbara Lehmann, Jerry Lehmann, Barnaby Martin, Theodore W. Olson, Barbara Reynolds, Earle Reynolds, Bayard Rustin, F. Paul Salstrom, Jack Smith, John Stephens, Eric Weinberger, Jerry Wheeler, and George Willoughby.

Items removed:
- PHOTOGRAPHS
See Photograph Collection (4"x5", 5"x7", 8"x10")
See list of photographs for the New England Committee for Nonviolent Action
- MAGAZINES/NEWSLETTERS
See Periodical Collection

Arrangement of Collection
The meeting minutes of CNVA are organized in Series I in chronological order. Sub-committee minutes are found in Series IX. Financial reports for CNVA are sometimes appended to the minutes or are found in chronological order in Series II. Branch minutes and financial material is found in Series VIII.

Material printed by CNVA for wide distribution, such as flyers, fund appeals, and news releases, are called printed releases. The bulk is found in Series III, but there are also many in Series VI where they were left with a particular CNVA project, and in Series VIII, if they were produced by a branch of CNVA.

Correspondence is found primarily in Series V. The first original file, which is mixed with reference material, is in alphabetical order, while the General Correspondence file is in chronological order. There is also a considerable amount of correspondence in Series V, VI, VII to XII, where it is kept with the original source.

Folders about CNVA projects in Series VI contain printed releases, memoranda, drafts, and correspondence of importance to that event. Photos have been removed from these records, identified insofar as possible, and placed in the photograph collection.

Periodicals are divided into those published by CNVA and those that CNVA received from other organizations. The first are housed with other retired periodicals in SCPC stacks. Lists of both CNVA and non-CNVA periodicals and their disposition can be found in Series XIII.

LATER ACCESSIONS
Acc. 01A-056: New England Committee for Nonviolent Action
Acc. 10A-051



Detailed Description of the Collection

SERIES I: MEETING MINUTES
Box 1
Executive Committee meetings, 1957-1967

SERIES II: FINANCES
Box 1 (cont.)
Financial statements, 1957-1967
Financial correspondence

SERIES III: PRINTED RELEASES
Box 2
Flyers and bulletins, 1958-1967
Mailings, 1958-circa 1970
Reports/proposals/statements/calls, 1957-1964

Box 3
Reports/proposals/statements/calls, 1965-1967
News releases, 1958-1967
Memoranda, 1957-1967

Box 4
Discipline
Schedules/agendas
Literature lists
Biographical information

SERIES IV: WORKING DRAFTS OF MEMORANDA/REPORTS/ETC.

SERIES V: CORRESPONDENCE

Box 5
Original correspondence (with accompanying material), 1962-1966: A-F

Box 6
Original correspondence (with accompanying material), 1962-1966: G-L

Box 7

Original correspondence (with accompanying material), 1962-1966: M-Z

Box 8
General correspondence, 1962-1966

Box 9

General correspondence, 1962-1966 (continued)

Box 10
Correspondence of individuals [including that of Bradford Lyttle (1960), A.J. Muste (about Albany, Georgia jailing 1964 and 1965), and Jack Smith (Editor of CNVA Bulletin, 1962)]

SERIES VI: PROJECTS
Box 11
Nevada Test Site vigil, 1957
Geneva Project, 1958
Appeal to Cheyenne, 1958
Voyage of the Golden Rule, 1958
Voyage of the Phoenix, 1958

Box 12
Omaha Action, 1959

Box 13
Sahara Project, 1959
Edgewood (Army Chemical Center) Project, 1960
Polaris Action (New London, CT), 1960
Polaris Action, 1961

Box 14
San Francisco-Moscow Walk for Peace, 1961

Box 15
San Francisco-Moscow Walk for Peace, 1961 (continued)

Box 16
San Francisco-Moscow Walk for Peace, 1962
Everyman I/II/III voyages, 1962

Box 17
Everyman I/II/III voyages, 1962 (continued)

Box 18
Everyman I/II/III voyages, 1962 (continued)
Trident Walk, 1962
Atomic Energy Committee demonstration, 1962
Soviet Peace Committee visit, 1962
Delhi-Moscow-Washington Walk, 1962-1963
Cuba Project / Quebec-Washington-Guantanamo Walk for Peace, 1962-1963

Box 19
Cuba Project / Quebec-Washington-Guantanamo Walk for Peace, 1962-1963 (continued)

Box 20
Cuba Project / Quebec-Washington-Guantanamo Walk for Peace, 1963 (continued) -1965

Box 21
Washington Summer Action,1965
Speak-Out at the Pentagon, 1965
Declaration of Conscience, August 1965
Saigon Project, 1966
Statement of Non-Cooperation, 1966
Statement of Non-Cooperation, 1967

Box 22
Smaller Projects sponsored by CNVA, including:
Civil defense protest, 1960
Vigil at Fort Detrick, 1960
Hiroshima Day demonstrations
Vertol demonstration, 1965
IRS Tax-Withholding Action, 1963-1964
Projects not sponsored by CNVA

SERIES VII: ORIGINAL SCRAPBOOKS ABOUT CNVA PROJECTS (Newsclippings/Releases/Logs)
Box 23
Golden Rule voyage, 1958
Omaha Action, 1959
Polaris Action, 1960-1961

Box 24
Polaris Action, 1960-1961
San Francisco to Moscow Walk for Peace, 1961

Box 25
San Francisco to Moscow Walk for Peace, 1961 (continued)

Box 26
San Francisco to Moscow Walk for Peace, 1961 (continued)
Everyman voyages, 1962
Trident walks, 1962
Delhi-Moscow-Washington March, 1962-1963
San Diego-Vallejo Walk for Peace, 1962
Nashville log, 1962
World Peace Study Mission, 1962-1964
Florida-Cuba Project, 1962
Delhi-Peking Friendship March, 1963

Box 27
Quebec-Washington-Guantanamo Walk for Peace, 1963-1964

Box 28
Quebec-Washington-Guantanamo Walk for Peace, 1963-1964 (continued)
CNVA general news coverage, 1961 - July 1965

Box 29
CNVA general news coverage, Aug. - Nov. 27, 1965

Box 30
CNVA general news coverage, Nov. 28, 1965 - July 1966

Box 31
CNVA general news coverage, Aug. 1966 - April 1967

Box 32
CNVA general news coverage, May 1967 - Sept. 1967

SERIES VIII: BRANCHES
Box 33
New England CNVA (NECNVA) [see also acc. Acc. 01A-056]
Meeting minutes
Finances
Printed releases, 1960-1964

Box 33a
New England CNVA (NECNVA) [see also acc. Acc. 01A-056]
Printed releases, 1965
Printed releases, 1966
Printed releases, 1967
Printed releases, 1968
Printed releases, 1969-1973
Printed releases, undated
Correspondence, 1960-1962
Correspondence, 1963-1965
Correspondence, 1966-1968

Box 34
New England CNVA (NECNVA) [see also acc. Acc. 01A-056]
Drafts of memos/reports/etc.
Drafts of Polaris Action reports
Polaris Action, 1960-1963
Subject file: Marjorie & Robert Swann
Subject file: Marjorie Swann's attempt to see President Kennedy, 1962
Subject file: Miscellaneous
Paul Salstrom papers, 1962-1964
David Brown: correspondence & biography
David Brown: AVILA (Avoid Vietnams in Latin America)
David Brown: Panthers [circa 1970]
David Brown: Bishop Parila, 1970
David Brown: Course "Rebels Without Guns," 1970
David Brown: Tax resistance, 1971
David Brown: Danbury prison/misc., 1971, 1972
Other
CNVA, Boston..., 1966-1967
CNVA, Denver..., 1962-1963
CNVA, Miami..., 1964
CNVA, Midwest..., 1961
CNVA Philadelphia, 1966-1970

Box 35
CNVA-West
Minutes, 1962-1966
Finances
Administration/printed releases, 1962-1964
Administration/printed releases, 1965-1966
Dissolution of CNVA-West
Correspondence, 1962-1966
San Diego to Vallejo Walk, 1962
Everyman protest boat, 1962 (May 15)
Mare Island demonstration, 1962 (September 21)
Shelter protest, 1963 (May 12)
Christmas walk and vigil, 1963 (December 19-25)
Vietnam vigils/protests, 1963-1965
War tax protests, 1964
War tax protests, 1965-1966
Anti-Draft Caravan (Craig Young and Fred Moore), 1965 (February)

Box 35a
Oakland Army Terminal protest, 1965 (March 19-23)
Oakland Army Terminal silent vigil/protest, 1965 (March 25)
Oakland Army Terminal silent vigil/protest, June 1965
Food Machinery Corp. protest, 1965 (July 27)
Oakland Army Terminal protest, 1965 (August 23)
Draft Resistance of John-i-Thin Stephens, 1966

SERIES IX: SUBCOMMITTEES, 1961-1966
Box 35a (cont.)
Directions Committee, 1961-1963
Committee on Organization and Membership, 1961
Personnel Committee 1961 and 1962
Walk for Peace Committee, 1961
Vietnam Planning Committee, 1965-1966
Publications Subcommittee: CNVA Bulletin committee, 1961-1966
Future Projects Subcommittee, 1966
Miscellaneous meeting minutes/releases/correspondence of subcommittee

SERIES X: SUBJECT FILES (includes CNVA organizational files)
Box 35a (cont.)
Articles of Association and by-laws
Australian Assembly for Peace, 1958
Brutality depositions, 1965
Card file procedures
Chemical/biological/radiological weapons
Civil defense kit
Civil disobedience candidates
Civil disobedience selections
Committee reorganization, 1962-1963

Box 36
C.O. counseling
CNVA contracts
CNVA-WRL merger
Demonstrations, USA
Discipline
Fundraising/appeals, 1959
Fallout suits, 1958
Hibakusha
Immigration
Individual action (Vo, Stern, Herz)
IRA correspondence
Japan Council
Leaflets
Literature lists of CNVA
Lower Mekong proposal
Military installations and WCA industries
New England Walk weekly paper (VT and NH)
New York City jail information
Nonviolence, courses in
Organizations bibliography
Peace News proposals, 1961, 1962
Policy statements of CNVA
Political action for peace
Prospectus for nonviolent action
Song sheets
Training for nonviolence

Box 37
Vietnam War protest
WIN magazine

SERIES XI: ORGANIZATIONS WITH WHICH CNVA WORKED
Box 37
(cont.)
Act for Peace
Bucks County Peace Fair
Catholic Peace Fellowship
Fifth Avenue Vietnam Peace Parade
Peace Action Center
SANE (test ban)
Spies for Peace
Student Peace Union
Turn Toward Peace
Walk for Peace
War Resisters League
World Peace Brigade, Correspondence, drafts
Micellaneous peace groups

SERIES XII: CONFERENCES
Box 37 (cont.)
Conferences (sponsored by CNVA)
- Role of Nonviolent Action in the 1960s, 1961 (February), memoranda
- Role of Nonviolent Action in the 1960s, 1961 (February), papers
- Role of Nonviolent Action in the 1960s, 1961 (February), participants
-Kenneth Boulding,1962 (December 26-27)
Conferences (not sponsored by CNVA)
-Westown, 1958
-Lompac, 1958, 1959
-Amsterdam, 1962 (November)
-Oxford, 1963 (January)
-China seminar, 1963

Box 38
Voluntary Organizations and A World Without War conference, 1963 (December)

SERIES XIII: LISTS
Box 38 (cont.)
Lists
Mailing lists

SERIES XIV: PERIODICALS
Box 38 (cont.)
Periodicals from other organizations [2 folders]
Periodicals (removal sheets, issues removed to retired periodical collection)

SERIES XV: MISCELLANEOUS AND REFERENCE MATERIAL
Box 38 (cont.)
Material accquired after initial processing
-NECNVA: proposals and comments related to Peace and Justice Paul Salstrom, 1964
-Nonviolent Action Against Nuclear Weapons, 1958 [6 folders]

Box 39
Material accquired after initial processing
- CNVA correspondence, 1960-1967, 1977, 1995
- Miscellaneous CNVA materials
- Reference material (unsorted, mostly about other organizations) [10 folders]


LATER ACCESSIONS

Acc. 01A-056: New England Committee for Nonviolent Action

Acc. 10A-051
Box 1
CNVA tax resistance, 1960-1964
CNVA tax resistance, 1965-1968




This finding aid was last updated on May 3, 2012.