Swarthmore College Peace Collection, 500 College Avenue, Swarthmore, PA 19081-1399, USA


Series A,4, Committees & Conferences, 1920-1959
Appendix A: Committee on the Americas

Heloise Brainerd resigned from the Pan American Union in July 1935 to take up volunteer work at WILPF. She served as chair of the Inter-American Committee (changed in 1938 to Committee on the Americas) from 1936 until her retirement in 1954.

The Committee on the Americas was responsible to the international co-chairs of WILPF, but was financed by the U.S. Section. Regular reports were made to both WILPF International and to the U.S. Section. The goals of the Committee were to bring women of Latin America into the world-wide peace movement, to spread a knowledge of WILPF principles, and to try to establish national sections in each country. Through some travel, but primarily through correspondence and through contacts with Latin American women in the U.S., Brainerd sought to accomplish these goals and to help women of Latin America solve their own political and social problems. A primary means of communication was a mimeographed newsletter in Spanish Noticias, distributed in 1936-1954 to about 400 organizations and individuals throughout the Americas.

In 1936, Brainerd traveled to Mexico and Central America in connection with her Committee work, and on behalf of the People's Mandate to Governments to End War. During the winter of 1938-1939, she spent seven months visiting the six republics on the west and north coasts of South America. She made many personal contacts and helped to organize WILPF national sections or committees in several countries (only the Brazil Section lasted for any length of time). Early in 1946, the U.S. Section initiated plans for an unofficial Inter-American Congress of Women. Brainerd served as Secretary of the Organizing Committee for the congress, held in Guatemala City in August 1947. This congress established an ongoing organization, the Federation of Women of the Americas. A second Inter-American Congress of Women was held in Mexico City in 1951.

The Inter-American Committee of the U.S. Section began circa 1933. It's name was changed in 1938 to Committee on the Americas; later the name was changed to the Committee on Latin America. Brainerd served as chair of this U.S. Section committee or as Coordinator of Inter-American Work from 1936-1954.

Brainerd's extensive correspondence includes letters to/from such people as Devere Allen, Gertrude Baer, Emily Greene Balch, Roger Baldwin, Mary McCleod Bethune, Ellen Starr Brinton, Pearl Buck, Hannah Clothier Hull, Frederick Libby, Mildred Scott Olmsted and Mabel Vernon, as well as leaders in South America, diplomats and congressmen. Her correspondence files also include reports and proposals, as well as secondary material [arrangement set up by Brainerd?].

See also CDGA: Brainerd, Heloise (for personal material)

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