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Women's International League for Peace and Freedom records

Identifier: COU:1761

Scope and Contents

The papers of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom Second Accession cover the period 1915-1998. They consist of a broad range of materials that deal with a wide variety of subjects. The papers received by the University of Colorado at Boulder Archives were identified under five general series headings: Executive Committee Files, Correspondence, Section and Country Files, Topics, and Printed Matter or Publications. Researchers should be aware that the chronology of both the First and Second Accessions almost completely overlap. They should also note a trend among the files of the collection: file creeping This occurs when files are taken from an older filing system and put into a newer filing system as a means of explaining the history of a current issue. This explains why the Second Accession contains considerable material that coincides with the time frame of the First Accession. The Second Accession, then, holds material covering the same period as the First Accession including material from 1978 to 1998. Researchers can conclude that the archiving of WILPF materials was not decided chronologically but on an issue-by-issue basis. For this reason, material regarding Gertrude Baer, for example, can be found in both the First and Second accession. Within the Second Accession there is also a considerable amount of chronological, subject, and document overlap. One reason for this is the change in the filing system that occurs when administrative changes come about. Another explanation for this could be the tendency of officers to carry files from one position in the organization to another. There are several examples of this overlap. Significant materials documenting WILPF Triennial Congresses can be found in both Section I - International Executive Committee Files, and in Section IV – Publications. Returning to the subject of Gertrude Baer, not only do documents on her appear in both Accessions, they can also be found in both sections I - International Executive Committee Files and III – Topics of the Second Accession. Due to a change in the filing procedure at WILPF, the five sections that comprise the First Accession have been condensed into four general sections in the Second Accession: International Executive Committee Files, National Sections and Country Files, Topics, and Publications. Correspondence was so inter-filed within the above four sections, that it was deemed proper to leave those papers where they were found. Within each section, there are titled subsections listed alphabetically and within each subsection, files are noted as organized chronologically or alphabetically. When a sub-section title is followed by a parenthetical reference to the alphabetized or chronological nature of the section, the style listed first was the main consideration in the sub-section organization. For instance, in section III – Topics, the second sub-section, Associations and Centers is followed by the parenthetical reference: (Chronological and Alphabetical). This means that the material in this sub-section was organized chronologically first and then alphabetized within the specific time frame. In addition, headings of sub-sections are marked in boldface type; sub-sub-sections are marked by underlined headings under which further sectional divisions are marked by italicized script. The International Executive Committee (IEC) is the “governing body” of the WILPF, the first section of the collection and guide comprise all papers that relate to it. IEC Correspondence includes all letters, wires, notes, and phone-call transcriptions to or from as well as amongst members of the WILPF International Executive Committee. Correspondence: Country or Regional refers to IEC correspondence with WILPF members or affiliates in specific regions or countries as well as regarding political, peace, or specific WILPF matters in those specified regions or countries. Correspondence: Heads of State refers to IEC correspondence with, to, or about specific heads of state. Correspondence: Meetings and Seminars refers to IEC correspondence regarding WILPF or WILPF-related meetings and seminars. Correspondence of this sort includes: invitations to attend, speak at, present or participate in an event; letters of discussion and coordination of WILPF events; logistical information and organizing; simple idea exchange regarding WILPF events, past, present and future. International Executive Committee Meetings refer to any organized IEC gathering for which reports and presentations were made, and of which note was taken and documentation conducted. They do not include the Triennial Congresses, although have been fora in which planning and logistics for congresses have taken place, and in which discussions of many other WILPF efforts, missions, and issues were facilitated. WILPF Headquarters refers to activities regarding the “HQ” or nerve center of the WILPF located in Geneva, Switzerland. This sub-section includes HQ files that were used for headquarter mailings and events as well as infrastructural documentation. International Triennial Congresses are congresses, meetings and seminars organized and sponsored by WILPF. They take place every three years and have ever since the historical gathering responsible for the establishment of the Women’s International League that took place in The Hague, Netherlands in 1915. This part of the collections includes documentation that ranges from letters of correspondence, invitations, logistical notes and planning, report drafts as well as drafts of resolution, etc… Formal Reports and publications of all WILPF Congresses can be found in Section IV – Publications. Circular Letters and Newsletters are informational reports and essays usually written by IEC members distributed both worldwide and sometimes, depending on the subject matter or issue discussed, restricted simply to International Executive Committee members. WILPF International Summer School is the WIPLF effort at Peace Education. It is a summer seminar program, which bring together young women for a few weeks in the summer to address women’s roles in the creation and maintenance of global peace. It also carries the names: Gertrude Baer Summer Seminar or Women Unite for Peace and usually carries a different theme each year. The second section of the Collection, National Sections and Country Files, has six general subsections that are comprised mainly of correspondence between sections and the headquarters in Geneva, as well as amongst sections. These files also include reports from and about specific national or regional issues, events or activities related to WILPF, as well as press clippings, fliers, and brochures. WILPF has had national sections and individual members in many countries throughout its history. Generally, within each subsection, files are organized alphabetically according to country and chronologically within each country section. It is worth noting that the difference between National Sections and Country Files is that National Sections files are comprised of information and documentation of specific WILPF sections, whereas Country Files are files that contain information about a certain country or region whether or not a WILPF section exists or ever existed there. Topics is the title of the third section of the Collection, and is the largest and most intricately divided of all the sections. It is comprised of a range of sub-sections and sub-sub-sections that are all entitled and organized according to the central issue that each section deals with. This section is arranged alphabetically according to topic, and within each subsection, is organized chronologically or alphabetically (or both). Organizational style is noted in parenthesis subsection by sub-section. The fourth and final section of the Collection is the Publications section. It is organized into WILPF and Non-WILPF publications and is then subdivided either according to publication name and/or subject matter. All publication titles are italicized whether or not they are WILPF publications. WILPF Publications include booklets, pamphlets and leaflets published by the organization over the years, general logistical, informational, and other miscellaneous materials regarding WILPF publications. This sub-section also includes newsletters, newsheets, magazines and copies of WILPF’s Pax and Libertas. Also included in WILPF Publications are copies of Triennial Congress Reports. These reports were originally a non-microfilmed late addition to the First Accession. They seem to have been hastily listed and subsequently, the list was appended onto the First Accession of the WILPF Collection. In order to place them in an organizationally logical place, the reports have been removed from the First Accession and included in the formal guide and organizational structure of the Second Accession.


  • 1915 - 1998

Biographical / Historical

Founded in 1915 in The Hague, Netherlands, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) is the oldest international peace organization still in existence. The WILPF was established by prominent women in the International Suffrage Alliance, who saw the connection between their struggle for equal rights and the struggle for peace. WILPF's foremothers rejected the theory that war was inevitable and defied all obstacles to their plan to meet together in wartime. They assembled more than 1,000 women from warring and neutral nations to work out a plan to end WWI and lay the basis for a permanent peace. Jane Addams of Chicago was the WILPF’s first president and was the first woman to win the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize. It was the wisdom of the founding foremothers in 1915 that peace is not rooted only in treaties between great powers or a turning away of weapons alone, but can only flourish when it is also planted in the soil of justice, freedom, non-violence, opportunity and equality for all. They understood, and WILPF still organizes in the understanding, that all the problems that lead countries to domestic and international violence are connected and that each problem needs to be addressed in order to achieve sustainable peace. Since then, the WILPF has worked to establish peace on a range of levels through connections that it has established internationally. WILPF headquarters are located in Geneva, Switzerland and has a variety of sectional and branch offices in cities and towns around the world. Functioning on the international, national and local levels, the WILPF seeks to educate, inform and mobilize women for action to achieve its goal of establishing real peace. It organizes meetings, seminars, conferences to study issues and seek solutions to social, economic and political problems. It organizes campaigns to promote disarmament measures, to halt adventurism and interventions. It sends missions to countries in conflict and reports to its members and friends and to the United Nations on their efforts to bring about peaceful settlements.


451 linear feet

Language of Materials



Records documenting the activities of an international women’s peace organization. Established in 1915, in The Hague, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) was created to achieve world disarmament, full rights for women, racial and economic justice, an end to all forms of violence through peaceful means. WILPF’s goal was, and still is, to establish those political, social, and psychological conditions which can assure peace, freedom, and justice for all. This archival collection is the Second Accession to the WILPF Collection. It contains correspondence, Executive Committee meeting minutes, headquarters papers, Triennial Congress logistical and informational documents, circular letters and newsletters, official WILPF resolutions, case files, section files, country files, topical research materials, United Nations documentation, seminar and symposium papers, as well as a variety of non-WILPF and WILPF peace-related publications.
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries, Special Collections & Archives Repository

1720 Pleasant Street
184 UCB
Boulder Colorado 80503 United States