Swarthmore College Peace Collection

Continental Walk for Disarmament and Social Justice Records,

Collection: DG 135

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
Swarthmore College Peace Collection
Continental Walk for Disarmament and Social Justice
Continental Walk for Disarmament and Social Justice Collected Records
Inclusive Dates
Call Number
DG 135

Language of Materials
Materials in English
4.55 linear feet [papers only]
The Continental Walk for Disarmament and Social Justice was initated in 1974 to "call for disarmament, a simultaneous shift of economic priorities away from militarism and toward meeting domestic and global human needs, and removal of the causes of war." When the Walk ended on October 18, 1976 at the Pentagon in Washington D.C., walkers had covered 8,000 miles through 34 states.

Administrative Information
Restrictions to Access
Usage Restrictions
Alternate Form of Material
Acquisitions Information
Received 1979, 1986
Processing Information
Processed by Martha Shane, 1983; updated by Wendy E. Chmielewski, Curator, June 2006; updated by Anne Yoder, Archivist, August 2015
These records were processed under NEH Grant No. 20111-81-1655
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], in the Continental Walk for Disarmament and Social Justice Records (DG 135), 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

Historical Background
Following the Vietnam War, the War Resisters League established, at its 1974 conference, a task force to create a major project on disarmament and militarism.  Joined by other organizations, the task force developed the idea of a Continental Walk which would leave San Franciso in January 1976 and reach Washington, D.C., in October of that year.  Sponsoring organizations of the Walk, in addition to the WRL, included Fellowship of Reconciliation, American Friends Service Committee, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Catholic Peace Fellowship, Clergy and Laity Concerned, SANE, and Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.

Walk headquarters were established at 339 Lafayette Street in New York at the WRL offices. The Steering Committee (or Coordinating Committee) was composed of representatives from sponsoring organizations. Walk staff members including Ed Hedemann, Larry Erickson, and Vickie Leonard. Acting as coordinators, the Walk staff contacted regional peace organizations or individuals who made local arrangements for the walkers or organized their own feeder walks and fund-raising support events. In August 1975, before the Walk began, a call was sent out to well-known peace leaders throughout the country, asking for their support and endorsement of the Walk. The purpose of the Walk, as described in the call, was "to raise the issue of disarmament through unilateral action . . . to educate about non-violent resistance as a means superior to armament . . . and to demonstrate how global and domestic and economic problems are inerconnected with militarism and the causes of war . . . ." Among those who signed the call were Daniel and Philip Berrigan, Dave Dellinger, Benjamin Spock, Joan Baez, David McReynolds, and Dorothy Day.

The first walkers left Ukiah, California, on January 23, 1976. They joined with others in San Francisco, and 800 left on January 31 to begin the main cross-country route. The large number proved problematic, and a week's halt was called in Indio, California, while Joanne Sheehan and David McReynolds of the Walk Coordination Committee evaluated the situation. This resulted in a more careful screening of walkers and establishing clearer lines of authority. As the walkers progressed across the country, they were joined by others from feeder routes. Japanese peace groups sent 16 monks and nuns, some of whom accompanied the Americans from coast to coast. Walkers were sometimes arrested, often on charges of "walking in the roadway" or "failure to obey lawful commands of police officials."

Including feeder walks, the Walk covered a total of 8,000 miles and passed through 34 states. Press coverage was sporadic, but the Walk issued its own newspaper The Continental Walk News and received excellent coverage in the publications of sponsoring peace organizations, such as WIN Magazine. On October 18th, the final day of the Walk, 700 made their way to the Pentagon where 53 where arrested for failing to disperse. A contingent went on to the White House, where they met with President Gerald Ford's national security advisor. The President refused to meet with the walkers, and, in a speech the next day, denounced those who urged cutting military expenditures.

David McReynolds wrote in the book The Continental Walk for Disarmament and Social Justice (edited by Vicki Leonard and Tom MacLean, 1977):  "We never believed that by walking from Ukiah to Washington we could end the arms race. We did believed that by the process of walking we would learn something of the patience we need . . . . The Walk was the beginning of confronting the issue of the arms race - and of the massive social injustice in our world" (p. 7).

Collection Overview
The records of the Continental Walk for Disarmament and Social Justice, hereafter called the Walk, were part of the War Resisters League records, accessioned by the Swarthmore College Peace Collection in 1979. Included in the Walk records are meeting minutes (May 1975-October 1976) of the Steering Committee (later called the Coordinating Committee) and correspondence (1975-1978).  There are leaflets and publicity issued by the Walk both from its main office in New York and by regional peace groups supporting the Walk. Questionnaires completed by walkers, as well as their letters and narrative accounts provide description of the Walk. Its periodical The Continental Walk News (October 1975-October 1976) and a regional file of newspaper clippings are part of the Walk records. The folders in the Series III organizing file are titled by region and containmeeting minutes, memos, reports, correspondence, publicity, and newsletters from that region. There are also several sound reels. Correspondents include Larry Erickson, Larry Gara, ED Hedemann, Steve Ladd, Vickie Leonard, Brad Lyttle, David McReynolds, India Owen, and Joanne Sheehan.

Items removed:
sound reels [to the Audiovisual Collection]
newsletter [to the Periodical Collection]
book The Continental Walk for Disarmament and Social Justice [removed to Book Collection]
scrapbook (acc. 86A-43) donated by Ed Hedemann [removed to Ephemera Collection: Scrapbooks]     

Arrangement of Collection
The records of the Continental Walk for Disarmament and Social Justice were found together within the War Resisters League's records, Accession 79A-8.  The decision to remove them was made in May 1983. Little rearrangement was necessary. Folder contents are those of the Walk staff, except for some loose material that was either added to an appropriate folder or placed together in a separate folder.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series I: Administration
Box 1 [stored off-site]
Meeting minutes of the Steering (Coordinating) Committee, 1975 (May) - 1976 (October) / memos
Miscellaneous financial records

Series II: The Call to the Walk and Signers
Box 1 (continued) [stored off-site]

The call to the Walk
Signers of the call, with correspondence [2 folders]

Series III: Organizing the Walk
Box 1 (continued) [stored off-site]
Walk Organizers Manual
Leaflet drafts/designs/logo
Lists of participants
Routes and timetables

Box 2 [stored off-site]
Organizing: California
Organizing: Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas
Organizing: Kansas and Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa
Organizing: Minnesota, Wisconsin Feeder
Organizing: Illinois, Chicago
Organizing: Indiana and Ohio
Organizing: Pennsylvania
Organizing: Syracuse to Cleveland
Organizing: New York state
Organizing: New England
Organizing: New York and Long Island

Series III: Organizing the Walk (continued)
Box 3 [stored off-site]
Organizing: New Jersey, Pennsylvania (Bucks County), Maryland, and Delaware, and Appalachia
Organizing: South Route
Organizing: Washington, D.C.
Organizing: Washington, D.C. -- coordination and speakers
Organizing: international
Organizing: miscellaneous
Evaluation by Joanne Sheehan and David McReynolds, 1976 (March)

Series IV: Correspondence
Box 3 (continued) [stored off-site]
Correspondence, 1975 (February-August)
Correspondence, 1975 (August-September)
Correspondence, 1975 (October- November)

Box 4 [stored off-site]
Correspondence, 1975 (December)
Correspondence, 1976 (January) [3 folders]
Correspondence, 1976 (February)
Correspondence, 1976 (March)

Box 5 [stored off-site]
Correspondence, 1976 (April) [2 folders]
Correspondence, 1976 (May)
Correspondence, 1976 (June)
Correspondence, 1976 (July)
Correspondence, 1976 (August)
Correspondence, 1976 (September)
Correspondence, 1976 (October)
Correspondence, 1977, 1978, undated

Box 6 [stored off-site]
Correspondence: Buddhist monks
"Dead correspondence"
"Internal Org." correspondence, 1975 (September) - 1976 (October)

Series V: Walkers' Accounts
Box 6 (continued) [stored off-site]
Long-distance walkers' accounts [2 folders]
Descriptive letters from walker India Owen
Accounts of walk

Box 7 [stored off-site]
Questionnaires for long-distance walkers [2 folders]

Box 8 [stored off-site]
Questionnaire/s for walkers [4 folders]

Series VI: Publicity [AND MEDIA COVERAGE]
Box 8 (continued) [stored off-site]
Walk leaflets [2 folders]
Support request letters
Background papers [numbers 1 and 8 missing]

Box 9 [stored off-site]
Local releases: Canada to California
Local releases: Kansas to Missouri
Local releases: Arizona to Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado
Local releases: Nebraska - Iowa, Minneapolis Feeder, Indiana Feeder
Local releases: Illinois to Ohio, Pennsylvania to Maryland
Local releases: Massachusetts to Maryland
Local releases: Northeast Feeders, Boston
Local releases: New York to Long Island, Appalachian Route
Local releases: Washington, D.C.
Releases: international
Leaflets/newsletters by other organizations
Articles on walk by other organizations [2 folders]

Series VII: The Continental Walk News
Box 10 [stored off-site]
The Continental Walk News [newsletter; removed to Periodical Collection (folio area)]

Series VIII: Press Clippings
Box 10 (continued) [stored off-site]
Press: Arizona to Oklahoma
Press: California
Press: Colorado
Press: Kansas to Indiana, Oklahoma
Press: Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Ohio
Press: Minnesota, Wisconsin
Press: Ohio to Maryland, main route Pennsylvania
Press: Massachusetts
Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont
Press: Hudson Valley, York (Pennsylvania)
Press: New Jersey to Maryland, Pennsylvania, Boston route
Press: from other cities and international, Canadian
Press: unfiled

Series IX: Reference Material
Box 10 (continued) [stored off-site]
Reference material
Peace songs


This page was last updated on August 15, 2018