Mildred Scott Olmsted Papers, 1881-1990 (bulk 1907-1990)
Collection: DG 082
Swarthmore College Peace Collection
500 College Avenue
Swarthmore, PA 19081-1399
Telephone: 610-328-8557 (curator)
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (curator)
Swarthmore College Peace Collection
Olmsted, Mildred Scott (1890-1990)
Mildred Scott Olmsted Papers
Language of Materials
Materials in English
14 linear feet [papers only]
Mildred Scott Olmsted, peace activist and suffragist, was born in Glenolden, Pennsylvania, in 1890. In 1922, Olmsted became Executive Secretary of the Pennsylvania Branch of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). From 1934 onward she assumed national positions with the organization. In 1946, Olmsted became National Administrative Secretary and held that position (until her retirement in 1966. She remained active as Executive Director Emerita of WILPF and also served on its International Executive Committee from 1937 until 1953.
Mildred Scott married Allen S. Olmsted, II, in 1921 and the couple had one child and adopted two more. Mildred Scott Olmsted died in 1990 at the age of 99.
Restrictions to Access
Alternate Form of Material
Gift of Mildred Scott Olmsted and Margaret Hope Bacon. Received: 1975, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1982, 1986, 1987, 1990
Checklist prepared by Martha P. Shane, 1981; revised 1986 and 1992; updated by SCPC staff in 2015.
[Identification of item], in the Mildred Scott Olmsted Papers (DG 082), 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
Allen S. Olmsted, II Papers
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, U.S. Section Records (DG 043)
Mildred Scott Olmsted, peace activist and suffragist, was born in Glenolden, Pennsylvania, on December 5, 1890. She attended Friends' Central School in Philadelphia and graduated from Smith College in 1912 with a degree in history. In 1913, she received a certificate from the Pennsylvania School of Social and Health Work. In 1919, she went to France with the YMCA where she organized recreation for soldiers at the Sorbonne. It was while in Paris that Olmsted first met Jane Addams. In 1920, she went to Berlin and joined the German Unit of the American Friends Service Committee, American Relief Administration. Here, she helped organize the feeding of famine-stricken Bavarian children. Returning home, Olmsted became Assistant Director of the White-Williams Foundation from 1920 to 1922. She married Allen S. Olmsted, 2nd, in 1921 and the couple had one child and adopted two more.
In 1922, Olmsted became Executive Secretary of the Pennsylvania Branch of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). She assumed additional responsibilities in 1934 when she became National Organization Secretary of WILPF, U.S. Section. In 1946, Olmsted became National Administrative Secretary when Dorothy Detzer resigned. She held that position (title changed to National Executive Director circa 1964) until her retirement in 1966. She remained active as Executive Director Emerita of WILPF and also served on its International Executive Committee from 1937 until 1953.
While she was best known for her leadership in WILPF, Mildred Scott Olmsted served many organizations. She was on the Board of Philadelphia SANE, Promoting Enduring Peace, the Upland Institute of Crozer Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania, vice-chairman of the Pennsylvania American Civil Liberties Union, and representative to the United Nations Council of Non-Governmental Organizations, among others.
An early leader in the birth control movement, Olmsted helped set up the first clinic in the Philadelphia area. She championed the causes of women's suffrage, civil liberties, the protection of animals, and conservation of natural resources. Her hobbies included gardening, travel, antiques, and historic preservation.
In 1972, Olmsted was presented with the Philadelphia SANE Peace Award, and in 1974, her alma mater Smith College presented her with an honorary doctorate degree, as did Swarthmore College in 1987. She was honored on numerous occasions by WILPF and received its first Lifetime Achievement Award in 1986.
Olmsted resided for most of her life in Rose Valley, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia. She was a member of the Society of Friends and attended the Providence (Media, Pennsylvania) Meeting where she served as clerk. She was a member of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Committee on Reorganization in 1973 and 1974 and also served on the Executive Committee of the Peace Education Committee of the American Friends Service Committee.
Olmsted died July 2, 1990, at the age of 99.
Most of the Olmsted papers is made up of personal correspondence (1907-1989) with her huband, family, friends, and associates. There are two folders of letters of tribute (1965) from many well-known peace leaders presented to her in honor of her retirement from the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) in Series IV. Much printed WILPF material was moved to DG 43 (WILPF), but the collection still contains some documents from WILPF projects and events which were created by, directed to, or annotated by Olmsted. There is material from other organizations in which she was active. There are transcripts from several interviews, including two interviews (1972 and 1973) with Mercedes Randall in which Olmsted recalls the history of WILPF, and one at Smith College (l972) which is autobiographical. There is also biographical material about Olmsted's parents, her husband and children, and the family residence in Rose Valley, Pennsylvania. Newspaper clippings (1936-date) and articles from periodicals about Olmsted document her peace activities as do notes from numerous speeches and articles by her. There are programs, correspondence, and memorabilia from her 1972 SANE Peace Award, and honorary degrees at Smith College in 1974 and Swarthmore College in 1987. Numerous photographs and memorabilia including a peace button collection belong with the Olmsted papers.
Correspondents include Katharine M. Arnett, , Edith Ballantyne, Ruth Chalmers, Dorothy Detzer, Ruth Freeman, Dorothy M. Hayes, Margaret Holmes, Tano Jodai, Ruth Mellor, Allen S. Olmsted, 2nd, other Olmsted family members, Anita L. Pollitzer,and Gertrude R. Prichett. The papers of Allen S. Olmsted, 2nd, are in DG 95 in the Swarthmore College Peace Collection. There are additional papers of Ruth Mellor at Smith College.
Items removed: Photographs, oversize documents, audio visual items, scrapbooks, and memorabilia
Arrangement of Collection
Mildred Scott Olmsted's papers were received in many different accessions beginning in 1975. The final accessions were received following her death in 1990. The series imposed here attempt to place materials such as correspondence or WILPF documents together. Where possible, chronological arrangement has been used.
Most of Olmsted's correspondence in Series II is personal in nature. A considerable amount of material pertaining to WILPF, from the years 1934 until February 1966, when Olmsted was in leadership positions, was moved to Series C of DG 43, U.S. Section (WILPF). Much printed WILPF material was also moved to DG 043 to create a more complete WILPF collection and to avoid duplication. She was active in many organizations for which SCPC is a repository, and documents of an impersonal nature from these organizations were moved from the Olmsted papers to the records of the creating organizations. Periodicals, both from WILPF and from other organizations, were refiled with SCPC retired periodicals,. A list of these is in Series V. Two scrapbooks containing letters of tribute sent to Olmsted in 1965 at the time of her retirement from WILPF were dismantled and the pages placed together, now found in Series IV.
This finding aid was last updated on October 28, 2015 .