Tag Archives: history

History with a Future: Ben Goossen ’13

Goossen 13

McCabe Library Atrium
Thursday, September 7th, 4:30 pm

Please join us in welcoming back Ben Goossen ‘13! Ben will take you through the experiences at Swarthmore that helped shape his decision to pursue a Ph.D. at Harvard University. A History and German Studies double major, and four-time recipient of the Swarthmore College Libraries’ A. Edward Newton Award, Ben will discuss his new book, Chosen Nation: Mennonites and Germany in a Global Era.

Chosen Nation tells the story of a Christian religious group’s entanglement with German nationalism through Hitler’s Third Reich and the Holocaust. Goossen will share from his experiences researching this history of complicity and cover-up, a journey that began at Swarthmore College and led to Old World Europe, seized Nazi archives, and a remote “religious state” in rural Paraguay.

Light refreshments will be served.

Sponsored by German Studies, Department of History, Friends Historical Library, Peace Collection and Swarthmore College Libraries

Black History Month and Swarthmore College Exhibits

By Chris Densmore, Curator of the Friends Historical Library

As you walk into McCabe Library, there is a wooden bench and a photograph of the Longwood Progressive Friends Meetinghouse near Kennett Square immediately to your right. The bench is from Longwood. Longwood’s annual meeting, beginning in 1853 and ending in 1940, was a chance to discuss a broad range of reforms. Sojourner Truth attended the organizational meeting in 1853. At a later meeting, she gave a very terse testimony on her peace principles: “You can’t make life, so don’t take it.” So the bench in
foyer of McCabe may have been sat in by Sojourner Truth.

Sojourner Truth Longwood Bench

The last clerk of Longwood was Jesse Holmes, a Swarthmore College professor. Jesse Holmes gave the opening address at the 1927 annual meeting of Longwood saying, “The chief peril to civilization today is found in the arrogance and aggressiveness over the white race toward the colored races and weaker nations.”. The sale of the Longwood meetinghouse funded the Jesse Holmes Lectureship at Howard University.

Next, there is the Elizabeth Powell Bond Rose Garden. Her brother was Aaron M. Powell, the last editor of the National Anti-Slavery Standard. He began speaking out on slavery after attending an anti-slavery meeting where Sojourner Truth walked down from the podium, pointed directly to the young Aaron M. Powell, and told him he was to become an anti-slavery lecturer. You didn’t mess with Sojourner Truth.

Scott Arb Rose Garden 01-big

A little further up the hill is Swarthmore Friends Meetinghouse, the site of the Swarthmore College Institute of Race Relations. The roster of lecturers at the first two meetings in 1933 and 1934, included African Americans E. Franklin Frazier, W.W. Alexander, William White, Ralph Bunch and James Weldon Johnson. White lecturers for those early meetings included Franz Boas and Melville Herskowitz.

friends_meeting_house

Next time you are in McCabe Library, crossing the Rose Garden or at a Collection in the Friends Meetinghouse, imagine you are in a living history exhibit. Imagine also that you are part of that history,

Redefining Revolution & Nonviolence: Re-imagining Solidarity Across Race

As part of Black History Month activities, Matt Meyer, organizer, author, and editor of We Have Not Been Moved: Resisting Racism and Militarism (PM Press) discussed revolutionary nonviolence, privilege, solidarity, and alliance building in higher education.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016
7:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Scheuer Room in Kohlberg Hall at Swarthmore College
This event was free and open to the public.
Download a flyer at http://bit.ly/meyerflyer
Matt Meyer flyer
photo credit: Consuelo Kanaga

Video of the event is now available.

Audio of the event is now available.

 

A native New York City-based educator, activist, and author, Matt Meyer is coordinator of the War Resisters International Africa Support Network, and a United Nations/ECOSOC representative of the International Peace Research Association. The founding Chair of the Peace and Justice Studies Association and former Chair of the Consortium on Peace Research, Education and Development (COPRED), Meyer has long worked to bring together academics and activists for lasting social change.
Matt Meyer at Swarthmore College
Matt Meyer spoke in the Scheuer Room on February 10, 2016

Meyer’s work in K-12 public education and teacher training included ten years of service as Multicultural Coordinator for the NYC Board of Education’s Alternative High Schools & Programs, as well as a stint as Union Leader of a local section of the United Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO. He helped found and direct a mini-school in collaboration with St. Luke’s/Roosevelt Hospital’s Child and Family Institute (CFI), and led a psycho-educational CFI research delegation on re-integration and treatment of child soldiers in West and Central Africa and related work in “inner-city” USA; he also helped in the early development of the Harvey Milk High School, the first US “safe space” school for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth. Twice-decorated as “teacher of the year” by two Community School District Superintendents, Meyer’s continuous efforts as a high school-based historian and peace educator have spanned over 30 years.

Matt is an outstanding scholar-practitioner and leader in the field of peace and justice studies and is an accomplished Africanist scholar and educator, and has done much to bring critical race theory into dialogue with peace and conflict studies. You may read his recent co-authored piece “Refusing to Choose Between Martin and Malcolm: Ferguson, Black Lives Matter, and a New Nonviolent Revolution” at Counterpunch.org.

We Have Not Been Moved

Co-sponsors: Peace and Conflict Studies, President’s Office, Black Cultural Center, Black Studies Program, Intercultural Center, History Department, Educational Studies Department, Sociology and Anthropology Department

This event builds on a theme the Peace and Conflict Studies program initiated last semester with the American Friends Service Committee poster exhibit in McCabe Library, “All of Us or None: Responses & Resistance to Militarism.”

AFSC Exhibit Fall 2015

Queer Anthologies: Selections from Swarthmore’s Special Collections

From our friends in the Swarthmore College Peace Collection and Libraries

Queer Anthologies: Selections from Swarthmore’s Special Collections

The exhibit will be on display November 17 to December 22, 2015 in the McCabe Library lobby.

Pride Month and QSA will sponsor an exhibit reception at 4:30pm on November 17, 2015.

Queer anthologies poster

2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the earliest organized, recurring demonstrations for gay rights in the U.S: “Annual Reminders,” held at Independence Hall in Philadelphia from 1965 to 1969. As part of a city-wide celebration, “Queer Anthologies” explores some of Swarthmore College’s rich archival resources for the study of the history of LGBTQ activism.

Photographs, artist’s books, personal papers, organizational records, ephemera, periodicals, and other materials illustrate the history of queer communities at Swarthmore College, in the Society of Friends (Quakers), in the Peace Movement, and in the wider world.

Included are selections from the Swarthmore College Archives, Friends Historical Library, Swarthmore College Peace Collection, and Rare Book Room of McCabe Library.

Emeritus Professor Harold Pagliaro Reflects on Combat Experience

Emeritus Professor Harold Pagliaro Reflects on Combat Experience

from Swarthmore News and Events
by Mark Anskis
November 11, 2015

Harold Pagliaro

Seventy-two years removed from his military service, the fear of combat still lingers with Harold Pagliaro, Alexander Griswold Cummins Professor Emeritus of English Literature and Provost Emeritus.

“I still have nightmares about being sent to the front,” says Pagliaro, who was drafted into the U.S. Army as a naïve and optimistic 19-year-old during the Second World War. In one particular dream, Pagliaro is redrafted and, when he tells the draft board officer of his true age, his appeals fall on deaf ears and he’s sent back into service.

Pagliaro’s anxiety is similar to that of many who return from combat. In an attempt to come to terms with his experience, Pagliaro turned his memories into a memoir, Naked Heart: A Soldier’s Journey to the Front, which was published shortly after he retired from teaching at the College in 1992.

According to Pagliaro, the book, which is available in McCabe Library, is a tale “of what it’s like to be sent to the front. Thousands like me, boys just becoming men. We went up to the front lines alone.”

Harold Pagliaro_naked_heart book coverThe idea for a memoir came to Pagliaro on a trip home to his parents’ house in the early 1990s. While there, he discovered a box of 200 letters he sent to his parents during the war. The letters were in stark contrast to what he recalls feeling at the time.

“I couldn’t believe how little they said of what I was experiencing,” he says. “I held back, I think, to keep my family from worrying.”

Trained for the infantry at Fort Benning, Ga., Pagliaro was taken from his division and sent directly into combat as a front line solo replacement in a reconnaissance unit, alongside soldiers he did not know. While in Europe, he was sent on high-risk patrol missions, with little guidance from his superiors and often in the dead of night. He recalls the emotions he felt at the time: fear of death from the night patrols, frustration that he knew little of the objectives of his missions, loneliness from fighting next to strangers.

Despite the near-constant danger, Pagliaro survived. He was ultimately sent home after a German shell fragment severely injured his right leg during an attack near the town of Erckartswiller, France. Pagliaro recovered after a long hospitalization. He says that even today, arthritis flares in the wounded leg are more frequent than in the “good” leg.

After being discharged from the Army in 1945, Pagliaro resumed classes at Columbia University, where he earned an A.B., M.A., and Ph.D. and taught from 1948-63. He came to Swarthmore in 1964, where he taught 18th-century English literature and English romanticism. He also served as provost from 1974 to 1980.

In addition to his memoir, Pagliaro is the author or editor of numerous other books and articles, including Selfhood and Redemption in Blake’s Songs (1987), Henry Fielding: A Literary Life (1998), and Relations Between the Sexes in the Plays of George Bernard Shaw (2004). At 90 and a longtime Swarthmore Borough resident, he continues to work in his Parrish Hall office most days. Over the past few years, he has written and published sonnets.

Since its publication, Naked Heart has drawn praise for its honesty and unique perspective. Along with the praise, Pagliaro admits that he has also received letters from baffled readers who cannot believe he found his wartime service less than ennobling.

Looking back, Pagliaro agrees there were positives to his war experience.

“I did a lot of growing up fast,” he says. “If anything, war left me cherishing life all the more, maybe because I came close to losing it. But the experience of war is overwhelmingly destructive – war is a loser. Hitler and Mussolini had to be stopped, of course. But there remains the question many ask: why are humans so ready to go to war?”

Soft Vengeance: Albie Sachs and the New South Africa

We would like to share the following announcement.  Prof. Elliot Ratzman, who has taught in Swarthmore’s Religious Studies Department and the Peace and Conflict Studies program, will interview Dr. Albie Sachs and the film’s Director after the screening on Saturday Nov. 21, 2015.

SOFT VENGEANCE: ALBIE SACHS AND THE NEW SOUTH AFRICA

CLOSING NIGHT!
Date:
Saturday, November 21
Time: 7:30 pm
Location: Kimmel Center for The Performing Arts –  TICKETS

We close out this year’s Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival – Fall Fest with the 2015 Peabody Award-Winner, SOFT VENGEANCE: ALBIE SACHS AND THE NEW SOUTH AFRICA.

In this powerful documentary about the fall of apartheid and the rise of a free South Africa, Director Abby Ginzberg takes a different, but no less rewarding, route than most who have tackled the subject. A great many apartheid-related documentaries tend to focus on the larger-than-life Nelson Mandela, while simultaneously simplifying the conflict into a “blacks are good; whites are bad” scenario. Ginzberg moves this film in a more compelling direction, introducing us to the incredible true story of Albie Sachs.

Sachs, a Jew of Lithuanian descent, was born in South Africa and as a young man used his law degree to help those suffering under South Africa’s harsh racial laws. This made him a marked man to authorities, which directly led to his imprisonment, exile, and a brutal near-death experience. But this was only the beginning of Sachs’ life-affirming journey, which is told by Sachs himself, along with other notables, including Desmond Tutu and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Soft Vengeance

Official Selection of the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, Australia Jewish International Film Festival, DocNYC, International Women’s Film Forum, Movies That Matter Film Festival, Palm Beach Jewish Film Festival, Reframe Film Festival, South African Jewish Museum – Cape Town, Toronto Jewish Film Festival

Special Guests: Film followed by Tikkun Olam Award Presentation and discussion with Albie Sachs and Director Abby Ginzberg. All guests are invited to attend PJFF’s Closing Night Party at Hamilton Hall, The University of the Arts.

Sponsors: The Carole Landis Foundation for Social Action, David and Helen Pudlin, Pam and Tony Schneider, Sterling Trustees LLC

Lost Yiddish Songs of the Holocaust

From our friends in History and Music:

LOST YIDDISH SONGS OF THE HOLOCAUST

Tuesday, November  10
1:00 to 2:15
Lang Concert Hall
Lang Music Building

“Avant-bard” singer/songwriter/performer Psoy Korolenko and Professor Anna Shternshis of the University of Toronto bring to life lost Yiddish songs of the Holocaust in this combined concert and lecture.  Written and transcribed by surviving Ukrainian Jewish writers of the Kiev Cabinet for Jewish Culture after World War II as a testament to their struggle for survival, these rare Yiddish artifacts were confiscated and hidden by the Soviet government in 1949.  They have only recently come to light.  Come learn about the incredible stories behind these treasures, savor the music, and revel in the creativity of Yiddish-speaking Holocaust survivors.

Korolenko_Yiddish

Sponsored by the Departments of History, Music and the President’s Office

Historic marker placed in memory of Mildred Scott Olmsted

by Wendy Chmielewski, Curator of the Swarthmore College Peace Collection.

On September 13, 2015, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission unveiled a historic marker in nearby Rose Valley, PA to honor Mildred Scott Olmsted.

Olmstead_marker_2015

Mildred Scott Olmsted, who lived most of her long life in Delaware County, was a leading figure in twentieth century social reform movements-women’s rights, civil rights, birth control, and especially the peace movement.  Olmsted (1890-1990), was best remembered as the leading voice of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom in the U.S. for over forty years, leading that organization through the years of the creation of the United Nations, the Cold War, the civil rights movement, fears over the spread of Communism,  protests against atomic weapons and civil defense, protests against the Vietnam war, and the rise of the women rights movement.

Mildred Scott Olmsted
[Swarthmore College Peace Collection.]

As a young woman, fresh out of Smith College, in 1912, Mildred Scott entered the new field of social work.  She volunteered with the YMCA, the Red Cross, and the  American Friends Service Committee providing relief services in France and Germany in the aftermath of World War I Europe to assist in .  The devastation and suffering she found in Europe convinced Mildred to become a life-long pacifist and active worker for the cause of peace.  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 and she held that position until her “retirement” in 1966. She remained Executive Director Emerita of WILPF and was active almost to the very end of her life at 99.

Olmsted_Baez_250
Olmsted with Joan Baez, about 1975.

While she was best known for her leadership in WILPF, Mildred Scott Olmsted served many organizations. She was on the Board of Philadelphia SANE-against nuclear weapons, 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 1987 Swarthmore College presented Olmsted with an honorary doctorate degree, as several other institutions, including her alma mater Smith. 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, PA) 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.

The Mildred Scott Olmsted Papers and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, U.S. Section Records are available at the Swarthmore College Peace Collection.

Peace symbol atop Parrish Hall?

By Christopher Densmore, Curator, Friends Historical Library, Swarthmore College.

The weather vane atop Parrish Hall is in the shape of a feather.

People with sharp eyes may have noticed that the feather has been
fashioned into a quill pen. This is easier to see in the old Parrish
Hall weathervane mounted on the wall on the center staircase of Parrish Hall between the first and second floor.

Weathervane in Parrish Hall

This earlier weathervane was replaced by another (maybe the current version) in the 1930s. For an institution of higher learning, a quill pen seems quite appropriate. However, there is a possible additional reference. It may be a reference to William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania. If this is the case, it is also a peace symbol, referencing William Penn’s treaties with the Indians.

The following is from a 1798 letter to the Six Nations (the
Haudenousnee):

“To our Indians Brethren of the six Nations Brothers; We rejoice that you are now at peace and we pray to the Good Spirit that he may continue to preserve you from the miseries of war, We have always had your welfare at heart, ever since our Grandfather, Onas came into this country; and the present time appears to us to be a favourable one, again, to manifest our unalterable friendship for you We cannot forget the harmony that subsisted between our forefathers and the Indians during the first settlement of this country.”

The Haudenosaunee referred to William Penn as Onas, their word for feather, and by extension, a feather quill pen.

At least this is more likely than the story appearing in the Phoenix in
1941, claiming that the feather was from the golden phoenix, dropped when that bird took flight from Swarthmore following his/her rebirth in fire.