Swarthmore College Peace Collection

Juanita Morrow Nelson and Wallace F. Nelson Papers, 1923-2015

Collection: DG 262



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: wchmiel1@swarthmore.edu (Curator); URL: http://www.swarthmore.edu/Library/peace/


Descriptive Summary
Repository
The Swarthmore College Peace Collection is the official repository for these papers.
Creator
Nelson, Juanita Morrow (1923-1915) and Wallace F. Nelson (1909-2002)
Title
Juanita Morrow Nelson and Wallace F. Nelson Papers
Inclusive Dates
1923-2015
Call Number
DG 262

Language of Materials
Materials in English
Extent
7.9 linear feet [papers only]
Abstract
Juanita and Wally Nelson were civil rights activists, tax resisters, simple living proponents, farmers, and writers/speakers for peace.

Administrative Information
Restrictions to Access
None
Usage Restrictions
None
Alternate Form of Material
None
Acquisitions Information
Delivered by Randy Kehler, 2015 [acc. 2015-036, 2015-038, 2015-042]; 2016 [Acc. 2016-049]
Processing Information
Processed by and finding aid created by Anne M. Yoder, Archivist, August-September 2015; updated by SCPC staff, September 2016.
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], in the Juanita Morrow Nelson and Wallace F. Nelson Papers (DG 262)
Copyright Notice
Copyright may have been transferred to the Swarthmore College Peace Collection or may have been retained by the creators/authors (or their descendants), in this collection, as stipulated by United States copyright law. Please contact the SCPC Curator for further information.

Online Catalog Headings
These and related materials may be found under the following headings in online library/archival catalogs.
See tripod record


Related Collections
Marion Bromley and Ernest Bromley Papers (DG 214)
Center on Conscience and War Records (DG 025), Part I, Series B
Center on Conscience and War Records (DG 025), Part I, Series E,2

Congress of Racial Equality Collected Records (CDGA)
Peacemaker Movement Collected Records (CDGA)

Historical Background
Juanita Morrow Nelson was born on August 17, 1923 in Cleveland (Ohio). She began her life of activism while a student at Howard University, where she participated in some of the earliest sit-ins of the civil rights movement. She was arrested as a nineteen-year-old sophomore for her action at a drugstore lunch counter in downtown Washington (D.C.) Juanita was a journalist and reporter for the Cleveland Call and Post from 1941-194_, reporting particularly on racial bias and other issues. Juanita worked on desegregation campaigns in Cincinnati (Ohio), Washington (D.C.) and elsewhere, and was an organizer for CORE (Congress of Racial Equality). She co-founded the Cleveland Committee of Racial Equality in 1944, an affiliate of CORE, which was successful in desegregating two local schools. In 1959, Juanita was arrested for war tax refusal. She made a court appearance in the bathrobe she was wearing when apprehended at her home. She was released the same day, but the incident was reported on in Philadelphia newspapers. Juanita was an activist throughout her lifetime, as well as a writer. A Matter of Freedom and Other Writings by Juanita was published in 1988, and she also published articles, particularly regarding gardening and farming.

Wallace Floyd (Wally) Nelson was born on March 27, 1909 to Lydia and Duncan Nelson. He was raised in Little Rock (Arkansas), a younger son in a large family of sharecroppers. Later, he went north to join his brother, working odd-jobs, and trying to get a higher education. He attended Ohio Wesleyan University for three years, majoring in sociology. He participated in 1934 in the student strike on the campus of the University of Chicago. Before WWII began, he was the director of the Liberty Community Center in Delaware (Ohio). Wally was a conscientious objector and absolute pacifist. He spent one year and four days in Civilian Public Service (CPS), but became dissatisfied with it and illegally walked out of Camp No. 23 near Coshocton (Ohio) in the summer of 1943. As a result, he was imprisoned for three and a half years at county jails in Detroit (Michigan) and Cleveland (Ohio) and in four federal prisons in Milan (Michigan), Chillicothe (Ohio), Lewisburg (Pennsylvania), and Danbury (Connecticut). Toward the end of his imprisonment, he went on a hunger strike for 107 days. Officials fed him forcefully with a tube down his nose for 87 days until Wally was finally released from prison. In 1947, Wally participated in the Journey of Reconciliation -- the first freedom ride bus trip in the South -- and was among 16 who were arrested. For 15 or more years he was one of the main coordinators for the Peacemakers Summer Orientation Program in Nonviolence.

In the 1950s, Wally was the first full-time travelling secretary for CORE (Congress for Racial Equality), also called the National Field Representative.
For this job, among other duties, he directed Summer Interracial Workshops on non-violent direct action in Washington D.C. Wally was a founder, and for many years a board member, of Operation Freedom. He worked as a traveling salesman for the Antioch Bookplate Company from 1964 to 1969. In 1968, Wally fasted for 21 days in front of an Acme supermarket to protest their handling of boycotted lettuce, in support of the United Farm Workers campaign for just wages and working conditions for farm laborers. He participated in the annual war-tax protest in front of the Greenfield Post office on tax day for many years.

Juanita met Wally in 1944, when she was investigating prison conditions and he was in the Cuyahoga County Jail as a conscientious objector. In 1948 they joined Peacemakers together and became tax resisters the same year. They planned and participated in the first Freedom Rides in the late 1940s. As African-Americans, Juanita and Wally were always working for racial equality, though their main attention turned toward promoting tax resistance and protesting war. In 1950 Juanita and Wally lived communally with Marion and Ernest Bromley in Cincinnati (Ohio), and then moved to Philadelphia (Pennsylvania). They spent four months at Koinonia Farm in southwest Georgia in 1957, where the intentional and integrated community was the target of nine shootings.

The Nelsons chose to live very simply, in Ojo Caliente (New Mexico) from 1970-1974, and later at Woolman Hill in Deerfield (Massachusetts) from 1974 on. They cut their expenses dramatically, living on less than $5,000 a year, building a house with salvaged materials and without electricity or plumbing, and maintaining an organic vegetable farm on a half-acre of land. In her later years, Juanita instituted harvest suppers in nearby Greenfield (Massachusetts), at which 700+ locals ate together at tables set up in the Town Common.


Wally and Juanita were founding members of the Valley Community Land Trust in western Massachusetts. A no-interest loan fund is now held by the Trust in Wally's memory. They also stimulated the organization of the Pioneer Valley War Tax Resisters, and co-founded the Greenfield Farmer's Market.

The Nelsons received the Courage of Conscience Award from The Peace Abbey in Sherborn, Massachusetts. Juanita and Wally were very well known and admired by many for their peaceful living that consistently reflected their beliefs. They never married officially, but were wed in their complete devotion to each other and shared vision for the world. After Wally's death in 2002, Juanita wrote letters to him, telling of her activities and her terrible sense of loss without him at her side. She lived until 2015, still active in her community and beyond.

Collection Overview
This collection was donated after Juanita's death. She had attempted to sort her and Wally's papers into categories, but the end result was unusable, with an enormous number of duplicates mixed throughout. As a result, it was all completely re-sorted into categories: 1/ Juanita alone; 2/ Wally alone; 3/ Juanita and Wally together, including biographical and autobiographical material, writings by others about them as well as media coverage of them both, and material about the actions and activities that they engaged in together. These categories are reflected in the Series titles used in the checklist below.

Juanita wrote many sketches, articles and notes throughout her lifetime. Some were published, but these papers also contain draft articles etc. and partially completed writings. Much of the latter are gathered together in folders, in no order. Wally too did some writing. Both gave many talks and made many public appearances, particularly on behalf of tax resistance and against war, and the papers reflect their involvements. Juanita kept copies of her prolific letters in the early 1970s; her dedication to thrift meant that she re-used her carbon mimeograph paper more than once, so that most copies have two to three letters on their pages (sometimes from different years).

Items removed:
Photos to the Photograph Collection (4"x5" / 5"x7", 8"x10")
Wally's winter hat, and picture (attached to wooden frame) of Wally in hat, 1990, to the Memorabilia Collection
Necktie with text "Jim Crow Must Go" to the Memorabilia Collection
Sock with text "on earth peace" to the Memorabilia Collection
Oversized ledger used as journal by Juanita (January-September 1941 [1942?]) to Oversized Items Collection: Documents
Laminated greeting to Juanita and Wally from the Companeros Affinity Group to Oversized Items Collection: Documents
Buttons to the Button/Pin/Ribbon Collection
T-Shirt (sleeveless) with text "I work, you work, he/she works, we work, you work, THEY profit!" to the T-Shirt Collection
T-Shirt with text "No War! No Way. Don't Pay." to the T-Shirt Collection
T-Shirt with text "You Don't Gotta" to the T-Shirt Collection
T-Shirt with text "Free Harvest Supper"
to the T-Shirt Collection
DVD "Death & Taxes" (with footage of Juanita and others) to the Audiovisual Collection

Arrangement of Collection
Series A: Juanita Morrow Nelson [alone]
Series B: Wallace F. (Wally) Nelson [alone]
Series C: Juanita and Wally Nelson [together]
Series D: Correspondence
Series E: Reference Material

Acc. 2016-049




Detailed Description of the Collection

SERIES A: JUANITA MORROW NELSON [alone]
Box 1
Biographical Information
Biographical and autobiographical information
Degrees and awards received
Writings about Juanita by others
Writings about Juanita by others (continued); media coverage of Juanita
Health; death
Memorials
Public Life and Witness
Activism while at Howard University, 1943
Arrest for "disorderly conduct" and placement in workhouse, 1946
Actions and involvements [alone], 1950s-1990s

Arrest and jailing for tax refusal, 1959
Making and selling soap
Actions and involvements [alone], 2000-2013
Visit to 4th grade class at Green Street school, Brattleboro (Vermont), 2005 [correspondence from teacher and children]
Participation in / involvement with Free Harvest Supper, Greenfield (Massachusetts) / Winter Fare
Writings: Personal
Journal kept, 1948 (September 24) - 1950 (September 8)
Journals kept [miscellaneous pages], circa 1950-1979
Journal kept [with scattered entries], 1959-1973
Journal kept [with scattered entries], 1965-1975

Box 2
Writings: Personal
Journals kept [notes made in appointment books], 1975 (October-December), 1976 (January)
Journals kept [in appointment books], 1977, 1978
Journal kept [pages from appointment book], 1981 (January-March)
Journal kept [in appointment book], 1985
Journals kept [in appointment books], 1987, 1988
Journals kept [miscellaneous pages], circa 1997-2002
Autobiographical writings: "Part I: Early Life"
Miscellaneous pages [by Juanita?] from biography of Juanita and Wally
Biographical notes and mss. by Juanita about Wally
Miscellaneous pages [by Juanita?] from biography of Wally
Biographical writings by Juanita about Marion and Ernest Bromley
Biographical writings by Juanita about Maurice McCrackin
Biographical writings: "Origin and Philosophy of Peacemakers"

Box 3
Writings: Public
Writings (published and unpublished) with title [or first line] beginning with A
Writings (published and unpublished) with title [or first line] beginning with B
Writings (published and unpublished) with title [or first line] beginning with C
Writings (published and unpublished) with title [or first line] beginning with D
Writings (published and unpublished) with title [or first line] beginning with E
Writings (published and unpublished) with title [or first line] beginning with F
Writings (published and unpublished) with title [or first line] beginning with G
Writings (published and unpublished) with title [or first line] beginning with H
Writings (published and unpublished) with title [or first line] beginning with I
Writings (published and unpublished) with title [or first line] beginning with J
Writings (published and unpublished) with title [or first line] beginning with J -- draft/s of play "Jails and Justice"

Box 4
Writings: Public
Writings (published and unpublished) with title [or first line] beginning with K
Writings (published and unpublished) with title [or first line] beginning with L
Writings (published and unpublished) with title [or first line] beginning with M
Writings (published and unpublished) with title [or first line] beginning with N
Writings (published and unpublished) with title [or first line] beginning with O
Writings (published and unpublished) with title [or first line] beginning with P
Writings (published and unpublished) with title [or first line] beginning with Q
Writings (published and unpublished) with title [or first line] beginning with R
Writings (published and unpublished) with title [or first line] beginning with S
Writings (published and unpublished) with title [or first line] beginning with T
Writings (published and unpublished) with title [or first line] beginning with U-V
Writings (published and unpublished) with title [or first line] beginning with W-Z

Box 5
Writings: Miscellaneous pages
Pages from notebook
Scenes
Miscellaneous pages (in no order) [7 folders]

SERIES B: WALLACE F. (WALLY) NELSON [alone]
Box 6
Biographical Information
Bi
ographical and autobiographical information
Celebrations in honor of Wally; tributes received
Writings about Wally by others; media coverage
Health; death
Health; death -- notes by Juanita on Wally's condition, and letters she wrote to him after his death [see also her journal from 2002- ]
Will; obituaries; memorials
Public Life and Witness
Draft Resistance: Civilian Public Service (CPS) [and walking out], 1942-1943 [see correspondence files for letters during this time]
Attendance [and speaking engagement?] at the Chicago Conference on Social Action, 1943 (April)
Incarceration (and hunger strike) in prison at Danbury and Milan [see correspondence files for letters during this time]
Participation in / involvement with the Journey of Reconciliation, 1947
Work as National Field Representative for CORE
Work as director of Summer Interracial Workshops: evaluations; miscellaneous
Work as director of Summer Interracial Workshops: minutes of daily meetings, 1952 (July)
Work as director of Summer Interracial Workshops: efforts re: desegregation of theaters (including Trans-Luxe), 1952
Work as director of Summer Interracial Workshops: efforts re: desegregation of lunch counters (including Whelan Drug Store), 1952
Work as director of Summer Interracial Workshops: efforts re: desegregation of recreational facilities (including Rosedale Playground), 1954
Work as director of Summer Interracial Workshops: efforts re: desegregation of education, 1954

Box 7
Public Life and Witness
Participation in / involvement with Southern journey to Montgomery (Alabama) with Maurice McCrackin, 1956
Efforts and involvements, 1960s-
Participation in / involvement with Peacemakers trip to Tennessee, 1961
Work as salesman for Antioch Bookplate Company (Yellow Springs, Ohio), 1964-1969 [includes correspondence; see general correspondence of Wally and Juanita for more letters]
Participation in / involvement with grape boycott, 1969
Participation in / involvement with Woolman Hill Winter workshops, 1976-1977
Participation in / involvement with 50th anniversary of the Journey of Reconciliation activities, 1993
Participation in / involvement with showing/s of "You Don't Have to Ride Jim Crow" film (52 minutes) about the early Freedom Riders [featuring Wally and others]
Writings: Personal
Journal kept, 1974
Journal kept, 1975 (October 27) - 1977 (September 12)
Journal kept, 1979 (November 9) - 1988 (January 4)Journal kept, 1984 (June) - 1986 (April 1)
Journal kept [in appointment book], 1985
Journal kept [with scattered entries], 1986 (April 2) - 1990 (January 28)
Journal kept, 1986 (December) - 1987

Box 8 (1/2 box)
Writings: Personal
Autobiographical/biographical writings [some by Juanita?]
Autobiographical/biographical writings [mss. pages; some by Juanita?]
Articles; quotes; reports
Miscellaneous writings

SERIES C: JUANITA AND WALLY NELSON [together]
Box 9
Biographical Information
Transcripts of interviews given
Awards and tributes received
Wally and Juanita Nelson Scholarship established, 2008
Living at Koinonia Farm
Living at Woolman Hill / The Bean Patch: agreements, etc. [includes correspondence]
Financial records
Writings about the Nelsons by others; media coverage, 1960s-1970s
Writings about the Nelsons by others; media coverage, 1980s
Writings about the Nelsons by others; media coverage, 1990s
Writings about the Nelsons by others; media coverage, 1990s -- article (and paper) "Pioneers in Nonviolent Action: the Congress of Racial Equality in Cincinnati, 1946-1955" by Roger C. Hansen, 1994
Writings about the Nelsons by others; media coverage, 1990s -- paper "Operation Freedom and the Mississippi Movement" by Jerry Thornbery, 1996
Writings about the Nelsons by others; media coverage, 1990s -- booklet "Toward a Nonviolence of Daily Living: The Life and Times of Juanita and Wally Nelson" by Leo Schiff, 1996
Writings about the Nelsons by others; media coverage, 1990s -- thesis "The Complex Task of Living Simply" by Alexander Putnam Lee, 1997
Writings about the Nelsons by others; media coverage, 2000-
Writings about the Nelsons by others; media coverage, undated

Box 10
Biographical Information
Nelson/Morrow extended family
Nelson/Morrow extended family: Rev. Clarence T.R. Nelson (Wally's brother) [includes correspondence on behalf of Wally while he was in prison; etc.]
Public Life and Witness
Efforts and involvements, 1960s-1970s
Efforts and involvements, 1980s
Efforts and involvements, 1990s
Efforts and involvements, 2000-2002
Tax resistance, 1950s-1970s
Tax resistance, 1980s-
Staffing of Operation Brotherhood, 1950-1951
Participation in / involvement with the Cincinnati Committee on Human Relations, 1950-1952 [includes arrest at Coney Island and hunger strike while in jail]
Participation in / involvement with Peacemaker Orientation Program in Nonviolence, 1959-1969
Participation in / involvement with Operation Freedom, 1961-1970
Participation in / involvement with efforts re: and visit to Puerto Rico, 1950s-1970

Box 11
Public Life and Witness
Arrest (along with Rose Robinson) for "trespassing" at U.S. 40 restaurant, and hunger strike while in jail, 1961
Participation in / involvement with Peacemakers
Participation in / involvement with Peacemakers Health Assurance Plan
Participation in / involvement with Peacemakers Land Trust
Participation in / involvement with Valley Community Land Trust (Greenfield, Massachusetts)
Participation in / involvement with Valley Community Land Trust: membership committee
Participation in / involvement with Valley Community Land Trust: walk for land
Farming / gardening / selling produce
Participation in / involvement with War Tax Refusers/Resisters Support Committee (Deerfield, Massachusetts)
Participation in / involvement with War Tax Resistance Gathering, Voluntown (Connecticut), October 11-13, 1991
Participation in / involvement with Pioneer Valley War Tax Resisters (Greenfield, Massachusetts)
Participation in / involvement with support for tax resisters Randy Kehler and Betsy Corner [includes IRS seizure of Kehler/Corner home in Colrain, Massachusetts]
Address book
Mailing lists

Box 12
Public Life and Witness
Engagement calendars, 1964-1989 [unfoldered]

Box 13
Public Life and Witness
Engagement calendars, 1990-2010 [unfoldered]

Box 14
Public Life and Witness
Notes for speaking engagements, 1974-197 8
Notes for speaking engagements, 1980-1989
Notes for speaking engagements, 1990-1992
Notes for speaking engagements, 1993-1994
Notes for speaking engagements, 1995-1999
Notes for speaking engagements, 2000-2010
Notes for speaking engagements, undated

SERIES D: CORRESPONDENCE
Box 15
Correspondence to each other, 1940s-
Correspondence of Wally, 1942-1943

Correspondence of Wally, 1944-1945
Correspondence of Wally, 1946-1947
Correspondence, 1950s
Correspondence, 1960s
Correspondence (primarily of Juanita), 1970
Correspondence (primarily of Juanita), 1971
Correspondence (primarily of Juanita), 1972
Correspondence (primarily of Juanita), 1973 [some of letters mimeographed on back of 1973 letters are from 1970-1972]
Correspondence (primarily of Juanita), 1974
Correspondence (primarily of Juanita), 1975
Correspondence (primarily of Juanita), 1976-1977
Correspondence (primarily of Juanita), 1978-1979
Correspondence (primarily of Juanita), 1980-1981

Box 16
Correspondence (primarily of Juanita), 1982-1983
Correspondence (primarily of Juanita), 1984
Correspondence (primarily of Juanita), 1985-1989
Correspondence (primarily of Juanita), 1990
Correspondence (primarily of Juanita), 1991
Correspondence (primarily of Juanita), 1992
Correspondence (primarily of Juanita), 1993
Correspondence (primarily of Juanita), 1994-1995
Correspondence (primarily of Juanita), 1996-1999

Box 17 (1/2 box)
Correspondence, 2000-2002
Correspondence, 2003-2004
Correspondence, 2005-2009
Correspondence, 2010-2015
Correspondence, undated

SERIES E: REFERENCE MATERIAL
Box 18
Subjects: miscellaneous
Subject: CORE (Congress of Racial Equality)
Subject:
Koinonia Farm
Subject: Pioneer Valley War Tax Resistance
Subject: Southwest Alabama Farmers Co-Operative Association, Inc.
Subject: Support Committee for Kehler-Corner family (tax resisters) / affinity group
Subject: Randall Kehler and Betsy Corner (tax resisters) and home in Colrain
Subject: Valley Community Land Trust (VCLT)
Subject: War Tax Refusers/Resisters Support Committee
Subject: Woolman Hill
Subject: Powelton Village (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Subject:
Puerto Rico
Subject: Walk for Peace, 1958

Box 19
Subject: civil rights / Jim Crow / desegregation
Subject: Journey of Reconciliation
Subject: conscientious objection; CPS (Civilian Public Service)
Subject: economics; simple living
Subject: food; gardening; harvest suppers
Subject: nonviolent action/resistance
Subject: prisons; prison reform
Subject: poems; quotes
Subject: tax resistance/resisters [2 folders]
Subject: individuals
Subject: individuals -- Chuck Mathei
Booklet "Dealing Nonviolently With Rape" ed. by Richard Chandler
Pamphlet "The Economy of Regions" presented by Jane Jacobs, 1983
Booklet "Failing to Conform: Memories of Life in Alabama, 1942-1955" by Don and Lore Rasmussen
Booklet "My Life: Changing and Growing" by Sue Angry, 2003
Booklet "Why Do We Spend So Much Money?" (2nd edition), 1975

Box 20 [Acc. 2016-074]
Correspondences: 1954-1975
Correspondences: 1976-1986
Correspondences: 1987-2014
Tributes and press coverage following death of Wallace Nelson
Written documents
Juanita Nelson's documents
Reference files
Information
Awards
CORE publications
News clippings, bulletin



This file was last updated on September 9, 2016