Horace Champney Papers, 1958-1990
Collection: DG 166
Swarthmore College Peace Collection
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Swarthmore, PA 19081-1399
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Swarthmore College Peace Collection
Champney, Horace (1905-1990)
Horace Champney Papers
Language of Materials
Materials in English
8.25 linear feet [papers only]
Horace Champney was a pacifist active in various causes from the late 1940s through the 1980s. He was a founder of The Peacemakers Movement in the 1950s and interested in civil rights, war tax refusal, and other social justice causes. Champney was a member A Quaker Action Group and a crew member of the ship the Phoenix, which sailed to North Vietnam with medical supplies, during the Vietnam war.
Restrictions to Access
Alternate Form of Material
Gift of Ken and Peg Champney, 1993 [Acc. 93A-025], 1997 [Acc. 97A-062]; Irwin Abrams, 1996[Acc. 96A-067]
Processed by Barbara Addison, October 1993; this version of the finding aid by Wendy E. Chmielewski, July 2009.
[Identification of item], in the Horace Champney Papers (DG 166), 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
A Quaker Action Group Records (DG 074 )
Marion Bromley and Ernest Bromley Papers (DG 214)
Horace Champney was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1905, the son of Adeline Champney and Fred Schulder. His parents described themselves as "philosophical anarchists," and had chosen not to marry. Horace was the eldest of three children. Champney entered Antioch College in 1922, and graduated in 1932, later receiving a Ph.D. in psychology from Ohio State University. He joined the Fels Research Institute staff in 1936 as a psychologist, and worked there for several years. Champney specialized in the field of child development, concentrating on the role of parent behavior and its efforts at molding the personality of children. During World War II, he counseled conscientious objectors as part of his radical pacifism. Champney ceased to work as a psychologist around 1949, when he joined the Antioch Press as a printer and editor.
Champney continued his many peace and justice activities after the war. He was a founder of The Peacemakers Movement, a group of people who came together in 1948 in Chicago to develop a movement of disciplined and revolutionary pacifist activity. The main points of their program included social and economic revolution; commitment to nonviolence; refusal to perform war work, pay taxes for war, or register for the draft; and the establishment of Peacemaker-type communities. Champney was also involved with the civil rights struggles of the 1960s, and was instrumental in helping desegregate restaurants and barbershops in Yellow Springs, Ohio. One of Champney's means of expressing personal protest was through fasting. He participated in a Christmas Vigil and Fast for Peace in December 1950, a fast in conjunction with Lee Stern (a staff member of the Fellowship of Reconciliation); iin 1965 to protest U.S. policy in Vietnam; and the Fast for Life movements in 1972 and 1983.
It was with the escalation of American involvement in Vietnam that Champney's most intense period of peace activism began. He is generally credited with originating the idea of sending a "boatload of Quakers" to take medical supplies to North Vietnam. His idea came to fruition in 1966, when A Quaker Action Group issued a call for volunteers. Many problems and uncertainties lay ahead: the voyage would be dangerous because of American bombing and mining of North Vietnamese harbors; U.S. officials would certainly not issue the appropriate documents, leaving the crew members in a precarious legal situation; and their reception by the North Vietnamese was by no means assured. Nevertheless, Champney volunteered. He was 61 years old at the time, had no sailing experience, and (in his own words) was not in very good physical shape. However, he was accepted as a crew member of the yacht Phoenix along with Betty Boardman, Phillip Drath, Bob Eaton, and Ivan Massar, under the leadership of captain Earle Reynolds.
The Phoenix sailed in March 1967, visiting Hiroshima and Hong Kong before proceeding to North Vietnam. They were received by the North Vietnamese, first with caution, then with increased warmth. They presented the medical supplies they had brought, and viewed the havoc caused by American bombing. Their visit generated wide media coverage in the United States and Canada, Europe, and Japan. After their return to the United States, Champney and other members of the crew embarked on speaking tours to report on what they had seen. They were well-received, especially on college campuses. Yet they were frustrated by the seeming insensitivity of the American public to the carnage in Vietnam. Champney's Phoenix ship-mate Betty Boardman and the Wisconsin Women for Peace had begun a vigil at the White House. Champney joined them on July 1, 1969, and then began a fast and vigil of his own.
During the summer and autumn of that year Champney tried to convey his message to passers-by at the gates of the White House; he composed many appeals to fellow members in the peace movement; and wrote a letter each week to President Nixon, asking for an appointment (which was never granted). Forced by family circumstances and uncertain health to return to Yellow Springs, Champney continued to encourage Quakers and other peacemakers to keep up pressure on the government by means of White House vigils. He also continued his support of draft resisters and conscientious objectors, especially those who were imprisoned for their beliefs.
War tax resistance and tax refusal were continuing concerns of Champney from about 1950 until his death. He and his fourth wife, Beulah, refused to pay part or all of their taxes for several years. Champney had joined the Society of Friends in 1949, becoming an active member of the Yellow Springs (Ohio) Monthly Meeting. He continued his interest in A Quaker Action Group for many years after the Phoenix voyage. He was also involved with the American Friends Service Committee, the Committee for Nonviolent Action, and the Fellowship of Reconciliation. Champney continued to follow the affairs of Antioch College. Throughout his adult years, Champney believed in the efficacy of vitamins and a simple, healthy diet to improve and prolong life. He combined this with his efforts to reduce his standard of living as a protest against American materialism and need to "colonize" other nations to sustain this way of life. Horace Champney died on August 31, 1990, in Yellow Springs, Ohio.
The Horace Champney Papers consist of correspondence, diaries, journals, flyers, newspapers clippings, periodicals, and minutes of meetings; essays and newspaper and magazine articles by Champney; pamphlets, documents and memorabilia from the Phoenix mission to North Vietnam; personal correspondence and memoranda; and a book by Champney's brother Freeman titled Growing Up Rational, which includes information about their early life and some mention of Horace's adult years. One half-box of personal correspondence and memoranda is restricted.
The papers include documents about the Phoenix mission to Vietnam; the many vigils, protest actions and fasts which Champney led or in which he took part; tax refusal; and his involvement with many peace and justice groups, including A Quaker Action Group, the American Friends Service Committee, the Canadian Friends Service Committee, the Committee for Nonviolent Action, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the Peacemakers Movement, and peace and social justice activities of the Society of Friends. There is material about individuals such as imprisoned anti-war activists Bruce Ashley, DeCourcy Squire, and Marjorie Swann; and about pacifist martyr Norman Morrison, who immolated himself in front of the Pentagon in 1965.
The collection contains approximately 586 photos. Their subjects include: the Champney families; marches and demonstrations by Witness for Peace, Committee for Nonviolent Action, and the American Friends Service Committee; events surrounding the integration of Gegner's Barbershop in Yellow Springs; the vessels Golden Rule and Phoenix ; the 1967 Phoenix mission in Japan, Hong Kong, and North Vietnam; Champney's post-Phoenix speaking tours; the Washington Vigil in 1969; and HC and others demonstrating in the 1980s. The great majority of the photos are black and white snapshots from the Phoenix voyage.
Major correspondents include: Le Thi Anh, Ruth Bates, Betty Boardman, Ernest Bromley, Marion Bromley, Beulah Champney, Ken Champney, Ross Flanagan, Barbara Reynolds, Earle Reynolds, Lee Stern, Christine Wise, and Carl Zietlow.
Arrangement of Collection
The papers of Horace Champney were received in little discernable order. The correspondence was sorted and 64 separate correspondents (individuals and organizations) were identified. Material in these folders includes background material as well as correspondence. Miscellaneous correspondence follows, in chronological order. Correspondence was divided into general (Series B) and family (Series C). Most of the family correspondence is personal except for HC's correspondence with his son Ken Champney, who worked closely with him in many of his public activities.
About one-third of the material pertaining to A Quaker Action Group was removed, as it had no relation to HC or his activities, other than the fact that he was on AQAG's advisory council. These papers will be used to fill in the Peace Collection's holdings of the records of AQAG (DG 74).
Subject material, such as the Phoenix mission and the Washington White House vigil, is cross-indexed to major correspondence in the checklist.
Detailed Description of the Collection