Swarthmore College Peace Collection

Elkinton Family Doukhobor [Special] Collection, 1884-

Collection: DG 133

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: peacecollection@swarthmore.edu (Curator)
URL: http://www.swarthmore.edu/Library/peace/

Descriptive Summary
Swarthmore College Peace Collection
Elkinton Family
Elkinton Family Doukhobor Collection
Inclusive Dates
1884 -
Call Number
DG 133

Language of Materials
Materials in English
15 linear inches [papers only]
The Doukhoborsare a pacifist sect. They originated in Russia but were forced to emigrate to Canada in 1898 due to their refusal to bear arms for the Tsar. In the late 1930s their leader, Peter P. Verigin, created an organization known as the Union of Spiritual Communities of Christ, also known as the Orthodox Doukhobors, which has maintained the tradition of Doukhobor cultural activities. The Elkinton Family, a prominent Philadelphia (Pa.) Quaker family, and other members of the Society of Friends in Canada and the United States have offered moral and material assistance to the Doukhobors because of the connection of their beliefs in pacifism and simplicity.

Administrative Information
Restrictions to Access
Usage Restrictions
Alternate Form of Material
Acquisitions Information
Gift of Received from Elkinton family members, especially David Elkinton
Processing Information
Processed by staff. Finding aid prepared by Anne Yoder, September 2001; this version of finding aid created by Wendy E. Chmielewski, September 2009.
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], in the Elkinton Family Doukhobor [Special] Collection (DG 133), 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

Historical Background
The word "Doukhobor" was derived from the Russian word Doukhoborets, its literal meaning being spirit-wrestler. It was given in its plural form (Doukhobortsi) to a group of dissident Russian peasants in 1785 by Ambrosius, an Archbishop of the Russian Orthodox Church. This group insisted that is was wrong to worship the icons or images that were then in so much use in churches and homes; for this the church hierarchy classed the group as heretics. Though the name given to them was meant to be derogatory, the group took it on as a true assessment of their desire to use only spirit-force in their struggles against the evils inherent in church and society, rather than any form of violence.

The latter portion of the 18th century was one of bitter persecution for the Doukhobors -- many were tortured; others were exiled to monasteries or to slave labor. Sometimes whole groups were exiled, to Finland or to Siberia. When Alexander the First began his reign, a general amnesty was declared for all Doukhobors. Their lives were basically peaceful until 1895, when leader Peter Verigin declared that any Doukhobors serving in the army should lay down their arms and refuse to serve anymore; in fact, all Doukhobors were to burn all the arms in their possession. This led to mass arrests, torture and exile, wherein over 1000 (out of 9000) Doukhobors were killed. This brought world-wide attention, and Leo Tolstoy and others -- including the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) -- donated enough money to facilitate a mass migration of Doukhobors. In 1898, Cyprus was chosen as a temporary haven, but the climate there led to many deaths of the emigrants, so after hurried negotiations, mass migration to Canada was finally arranged in 1899. The main body of them came over in four shiploads, on improvised freight ships in 1899 and 1900. The military recruits who had been exiled to Siberia were released by a special imperial amnesty, and emigrated to Canada in 1905.
[excerpted from Historical Exposition on Doukhobor Beliefs by Eli A. Popoff]

In the late 1930s, the Doukhobor leader, Peter P. Verigin, created an organization called the Union of Spiritual Communities of Christ (also known as the Orthodox Doukhobors), which has maintained a tradition of Doukhobor activities. The Society of Friends in Canada and in the United States formed a Doukhobor Committee under the auspices of the Philadelphia (PA) Yearly Meeting, to offer moral and material assistance to the Doukhobors because of their commonly held belief in pacifism and simplicity; this Committee was in existence until at least 1945. For more information about the relationship between the Society of Friends and the Doukhobors, see Spirit Wrestlers: Centennial Papers in Honour of Canada's Doukhobor Heritage (Hull, Quebec: Canadian Museum of Civilization, 1995).

Four generations of the Elkinton family, prominent Quakers in Philadelphia (PA), had numerous contacts with the Doukhobors through the years:
- Joseph S. Elkinton (1830-1905) met the first shipload of Doukhobors in Halifax in 1899.
- Joseph Elkinton (1859-1920) visited them and also wrote a book The Doukhobors, published in 1903.
- J. [Joseph] Passmore Elkinton (1887-1971) visited the Doukhobors in 1921, 1927, 1928, 1940 and
1951. His brother, Howard W. Elkinton (1892-1955) visited with Doukhobors in Western Canada; Howard's son, Peter W., visited the Doukhobors on many occasions.
- David C. Elkinton visited the Doukhobors in Canada in 1927; in 1969 to represent Philadelphia Yearly Meeting at the 70th Anniversary Jubilee in Saskatchewan; with his wife, Marian, in British Columbia; and in 1987 to visit with Doukhobor journalist and author Koozma J. Tarasoff in Ottawa.

Collection Overview
Items removed:
Photographs (ca. 1902-1990) removed to Photograph Collection
Scrapbooks removed to Scrapbook Collection [shelved above photocopier]
- "Doukhobortsi" (vol. I), compiled by Joseph S. Elkinton, 1884-1899
- "Doukhobortsi" (vol. II), compiled by Joseph S. Elkinton, 1899-1902
- "Doukhobortsi" (vol. III), compiled by Joseph S. Elkinton, 1900-1904
- "Doukhobortsi" (vol. IV), compiled by Joseph S. Elkinton, 1897-1903
Spoon hand-carved by Nick Maloff, father of Peter Maloff (who was a prominent member of the
Doukhobor group in Western Canada)
Oversize item removed to Oversize Collection -
Propositions 1-4 of Barclay's Apology, translated into Russian by Emma Almanofsky, at the request of Joseph Elkinton, for possible distribution to Doukhobor villages (he died before this plan could be carried out)
Periodical Iskra (1986-current) removed to Periodical Collection

Arrangement of Collection
This collection has two major sections, correspondence between the Elkinton family with leading Doukhobors, writings by members of the Elkinton famiy about the Doukhobors, and materials collected about the Doukhobors. This last section is organized as reference material.

Re-File material This material is miscellaneous material gathered after the collection was originally processed.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Box 1
Checklist; removal forms
Elkinton Correspondence and Writings
-Correspondence of Joseph Elkinton with/about Doukhobors, 1899-1918
-Correspondence of J. Passmore Elkinton with/about Doukhobors, 1928-1956, 1957 [1 letter], 1965 [1 letter]
-Writings of J. Passmore Elkinton re: Doukhobors
-Biographical information re: David C. Elkinton
-Letter of David C. Elkinton (aged 12) re: visit with his father to the Doukhobors, July 24, 1927
-Correspondence of David C. Elkinton to/from Koozma J. Tarasoff, 1988-1999
-Writings of David C. Elkinton re: Doukhobors
-Writings of J. Russell Elkinton re: Doukhobors
-Writings of Howard W. Elkinton re: Doukhobors
Reference material
-Miscellaneous, 1900-1960s

Box 2
Reference material
-Miscellaneous, 1970s- , undated
-Booklet "Christian Martyrdom in Russia" ed. by Vladimir Tchertkoff, 3 editions (1897, 1899, 1900); 1905) reprint of 1900 edition
-Complaint sent to Canada's Minister of Justice, with 310 Doukhobor names attached, undated
-Letters to Jonathan E. Rhoads re: Doukhobors, 1897-1901 [file of Joseph Elkinton]
-Letter to the Editor of Manitoba Free Press by Peter Verigin, December 2, 1920 [transcription]
-Mss. "The Real Story of the Doukhobors" by Claude Laing Fisher
-Mss. "The Real Story of the Doukhobors" by Claude Laing Fisher: additions? / corrections?

Box 3
Reference Material
-Mss. "A Study of the Doukhobors of Western Canada" by David C. Henderson
-Narrative "Story of a Spiritual Upheaval" by Doukhobor Basil Pozdynakov re: his banishment to Siberia for refusing to serve in the Russian army, and his eventual emigration to Canada [handwritten copy in English in two notebooks; typed transcription in English; published copy with introduction by Peter Brock; letter of Pozdynakov, June 16, 1907]
-Narratives (probably by schoolchildren) about cyclone that hit St. Helena, Aug. 27, ____ [transcription]
-Writings of Koozma J. Tarasoff
-Society of Friends -- set-up of and payments for school/s for Doukhobor children, 1903-1909 [file of John Wray]
-Society of Friends -- set-up of and payments for school/s for Doukhobor children, 1910-1911 [file of John Wray].
-Society of Friends / Doukhobor Committee - set-up of and payments for school/s for Doukhobor children, 1912 [file of John Wray]
-Society of Friends Doukhobor Committee - set-up of and payments for school/s for Doukhobor children, 1913-1914 [file of John Wray]
-Society of Friends Doukhobor Committee - set-up of and payments for school/s for Doukhobor children, 1915-1921, undated [file of John Wray]

Re-File miscellaeous material

This file was last updated on March 28, 2018 .