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Peace Collection Wins Film Preservation Grant

Peace Collection Wins
Film Preservation Grant

by Alex Weintraub '11

AJ Muste/FOR
FOR leader AJ Muste (in hat) on July 1, 1959, at the Mead Misslie Base as part of the Omaha Action, a series of civil disobedience events to protest above ground testing of atomic and hydrogen bombs.

The Swarthmore College Peace Collection was recently awarded a grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation that will support the copying and preservation of five films documenting mid-20th century nonviolent movements. Created by members of the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR), the oldest religious, pacifist organization in the U.S., the films examine the philosophy on nonviolence, present different examples of successful nonviolent resistance, and contain footage of anti-nuclear demonstrations in 1959 and 1960.

Peace Collection Curator Wendy Chmielewski, who applied for the grant, says she chose these films because they hold "historically significant ideas about the ways in which nonviolent action can be used to challenge militarism and create social change." The ideas advocated by the members of FOR and chronicled in these films would later, she adds, inform the "large-scale method of nonviolent resistance and direct action" implemented by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders. The Peace Collection currently serves as the archives for the Fellowship of Reconciliation and the organization's current staff members are enthusiastic for the broadened accessibility of these historic films. 

The College's Peace Collection was founded with the mission "to collect, preserve, and provide access to a broad range of materials that document non-governmental efforts for peace and nonviolent social change around the world." Like the rest of the Collection, the films will be completely accessible to the general public.