Albert Bigelow Papers, 1956-1961
Collection: DG 076
Swarthmore College Peace Collection
500 College Avenue, Swarthmore, PA 19081-1399 U.S.A.
Telephone: (610) 328-8557 (Curator); Fax: (610) 328-8544
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (Curator)
Swarthmore College Peace Collection
Bigelow, Albert (1906-1993)
Albert Bigelow Papers
Language of Materials
Materials in English
10 linear inches [papers only]
Albert S. Bigelow (1906-1993) was an artist, architect, former Navy commander, and Quaker. He served as captain of Golden Rule, a thirty foot ketch which he and colleagues attempted to sail into the Eniwetok Proving Grounds, the U.S. nuclear test site in the Marshall Islands of the Pacific in February 1958. The action was sponsored by the Committee for Non-Violent Action Against Nuclear Weapons.
Restrictions to Access
Alternate Form of Material
Gift of Albert Bigelow and George Willoughby, 1970 [acc. 70A-101], 1992 [acc. 92A-067]; John L. De Forest, 1997 [acc. 97A-041]
Processed by Martha P. Shane (April 1988); revised by Wendy E. Chmielewski (July 1992); updated by Anne Yoder, Archivist, May 2016
[Identification of item], in the Albert Bigelow Papers/(DG 076), 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
Committee for Nonviolent Action Records (DG 017)
George & Lillian Willoughby Papers (DG 236)
Albert S. Bigelow (1906- ) an artist, architect, former Navy commander, and Quaker, was captain of the Golden Rule, a thirty foot ketch which he attempted to sail into the Eniwetok Proving Grounds, the U.S. nuclear test site in the Marshall Islands of the Pacific. Bigelow and his crew sailed from San Pedro, California, in February 1958. At the time of Golden Rule's departure, it was legal to sail into the test site zone. While the small boat was under sail to Hawaii, however, the Atomic Energy Commission issued a regulation making it a crime for a U.S. citizen to sail into the Eniwetok Proving Grounds. In Hawaii, Bigelow and his crew were summoned to court. At this hearing, the U.S. government was granted a temporary injunction: if Golden Rule tried to sail to the testing site, the action would be considered in criminal contempt of court. Twice, on May 1 and again on June 4, Golden Rule tried to sail from the Honolulu harbor, but both times it was stopped soon after departure. Bigelow was arrested ten minutes before the second attempt; his crewmates, James Peck, George Willoughby, William R. Huntington, and Orion W. Sherwood, were arrested later the same day while under sail, and all were sentenced to sixty days in the Honolulu jail. The trip was sponsored by the Committee for Non-Violent Action Against Nuclear Weapons, the antecedent organization of the Committee for Non-Violent Action (CNVA). The yacht Phoenix, skippered by Earle and Barbara Leonard Reynolds, made the journey to the Eniwetok Proving Grounds later that same year, resulting in the arrest and trial of Earle Reynolds. His conviction was finally overturned in l961.
Albert Bigelow also took part in other peace demonstrations and civil rights actions described in his papers. He and his wife Sylvia resided in Cos Cob, Connecticut.
The papers of Albert Bigelow include correspondence (1956-1961), writings by Bigelow about his participation in various acts of civil disobedience, manuscripts of his book Voyage of the Golden Rule (Doubleday, 1959), original sketches made aboard Golden Rule and in prison, newsclippings, publicity releases, and the logbook from Golden Rule and Phoenix. Golden Rule's barometer is also in this collection.
Bigelow describes both the voyage itself and his reasons for making it in the book named above and in a shorter 19-page narrative titled "Golden Rule." Personal statements by both Bigelow and crewmate William Huntington also describe their reasons for making the trip aboard the Golden Rule. There is a description by Bigelow of conditions in the Honolulu jail where he and his crew were incarcerated for sixty days. There is publicity by the sponsoring organization, the Committee for Non-Violent Action Against Nuclear Weapons (which soon became the Committee for Non-Violent Action,) as well as by other peace organizations. While most of Bigelow's papers are about his attempt to sail the Golden Rule into the Eniwetok test site waters in1958, there is also material about other peace and civil rights efforts in which he took part: the Mercury Project Vigil in Nevada in 1957, the trip to Geneva by the crews of the Golden Rule and the Phoenix in late 1958, the Alabama Freedom Rides in 1961, and the production of "Which Way the Wind," a DocuDrama sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee in 1959.
Barometer and two flags of the Golden Rule removed to the Memorabilia Collection
Oversized material removed to Oversize Items Collection
Photographs and slides removed to the Photograph Collection
16 mm. film removed to the Audiovisual Collection
-- Sketches by Bigelow of the Golden Rule and Honolulu jail removed to the Subject File: Art in War and Peace
Arrangement of Collection
Since this was a small collection and was well organized by Bigelow when he gave it to SCPC, it needed little rearrangement. Materials were put into chronological order and newsclippings were copied onto acid-free paper. An additional accession was given by George Willoughby in 1992. It included mostly correspondence to Bigelow and the crew of the Golden Rule from supporters. Correspondence from this accession addressed to George Willoughby and/or Lillian Willoughby may be found in DG 236.
Note: The collection was mostly reprocessed and refoldered in May 2016.
Detailed Description of the Collection
Biographical information: diary notes about Bigelow by John L. De Forest [acc. 97A-041]
General correspondence, 1957 - 1958 (June)
General correspondence, 1958 (July-December)
General correspondence, 1959
General correspondence, 1960-1961
General correspondence, undated
Correspondence to William Huntington, 1957-1958
Participation in Mercury Project Vigil, Nevada, 1957 (August)
Involvement with Alabama Freedom Rides, 1961: notes; media coverage
Involvement (as producer) with docudrama "Which Way the Wind," 1959-1960
Involvement/s: sailing of the Golden Rule
- Personal statements of purpose by Bigelow and Huntington
- Correspondence to/from Bigelow and crew of the Golden Rule, 1956 - 1958 (February)
- Correspondence to/from Bigelow and crew of the Golden Rule, 1958 (March-May)
- Correspondence to/from Bigelow and crew of the Golden Rule, 1958 (June)
- Correspondence to/from Bigelow and crew of the Golden Rule, 1958 (July-December)
Involvement/s: sailing of the Golden Rule
- Logbook kept, 1958 (February 10 - May 1)
- Typed copy of logbook kept
- Publicity by sponsoring organization Committee for Non-Violent Action Against Nuclear Weapons
- Support by organizations: media coverage, etc.
- Scrapbook re: the Golden Rule and the Phoenix, 1958 [disassembled; photocopy only exists; formerly scrapbook #0103; removed from Scrapbook Collection in 2015]
- Media coverage, 1958 [acc. 092-067]
- Media coverage, 1958-1960
- Court hearings
- Trip to Geneva (Switzerland) by crews of the Golden Rule and the Phoenix, 1958 (Fall)
Writings: drafts of article "Golden Rule"
Writings: book Voyage of the Golden Rule -- publication agreement, book ads and reviews
Writings: book Voyage of the Golden Rule -- mss. of chapter/s 1 and 2
Writings: book Voyage of the Golden Rule -- mss. of chapter/s 3 and 4
Writings: book Voyage of the Golden Rule -- mss. of chapter/s 5
Writings: book Voyage of the Golden Rule -- mss. of chapter/s 6
Writings: book Voyage of the Golden Rule -- mss. of chapter/s 7
Writings: book Voyage of the Golden Rule -- mss. of chapter/s 8 and 9
Writings: book Voyage of the Golden Rule -- mss. of chapter/s 10
Writings: book Voyage of the Golden Rule -- mss. of chapter/s 11
Writings: book Voyage of the Golden Rule -- mss. of chapter/s 12
Writings: book Voyage of the Golden Rule -- mss. of chapter/s 13
Writings: book Voyage of the Golden Rule -- mss. of chapter/s 14
Writings: book Voyage of the Golden Rule -- mss. of chapter/s 15
Writings: book Voyage of the Golden Rule -- mss. of chapter/s 16
Writings: book Voyage of the Golden Rule -- mss. of chapter/s 17 and 18
Writings: book Voyage of the Golden Rule -- mss. of chapter/s 19 and appendix
This file was last updated on
June 28, 2017