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Humanitas International Human Rights Committee records

Identifier: COU:818

Scope and Contents

The Humanitas International Human Rights Committee Collection has been organized in the following manner: I. Joan Baez – Personal includes biographical material, articles, correspondence, and newspaper clippings. II. Organization Files – General includes benefits by Joan Baez, Board of Directors, financial/fundraising records, Humanitas newsletter, Humanitas year end reviews of activities, newspaper clippings, and support groups.

III. Refugees in Southeast Asia 1979- includes the Open Letter to the Socialist Government of Vietnam and materials relating to the Open Letter; actions by Joan Baez and Humanitas, which include the fact-finding tour of refugee camps in October 1979, the Cambodian Emergency Relief Fund, and the March For Survival in February 1980; refugee camps in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand; interviews, correspondence, and newspaper clippings about refugees; and general files about Cambodia, Vietnam, relief organizations, efforts, and so on.

IV. Events and Actions 1980-1992 includes documentation of events and actions undertaken by Humanitas.

V. Action Letters/Endorsements includes Joan Baez/Humanitas correspondence, newspaper clippings, etc.

VI. Non-Humanitas Materials - Other Groups, Activities, Topics, etc. includes materials on the Institute for the Study of Nonviolence, the Kent State University Event of 1977, nonviolence, the Northern Ireland peace movement, United Farmworkers and Cesar Chavez, and the War Resisters League.

VII. Oversize contains oversized materials, including posters and originals of Humanitas announcements.

VIII. Photographs, sound recorings, and moving image films

** Joan Baez is recorded on several cassette tapes and videos. She expresses her feelings concerning Human Rights on cassette tapes #1, #12, and #59.


  • Creation: 1966 - 1992

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for access.

Copyright Statement

Limited duplication of materials allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for all copyright compliance. The University Libraries may not own the copyright to all materials in this collection. Researchers are responsible for contacting the copyright holder(s) for this material and obtaining permission to publish or broadcast. The University Libraries will not grant permission to publish or broadcast this material and are not responsible for copyright violations resulting from such use.


Joan Baez (1941-), raised by Quaker parents, adheres to a philosophy of nonviolent activism and throughout her life she has displayed a commitment to individuals whose rights and very lives have been threatened.

Prior to founding the Humanitas International Human Rights Committee in 1979, Joan Baez had been involved in many activities supporting nonviolence and human rights. These activities included marching with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for civil rights; refusing to pay the portion of her income taxes that would be used for defense purposes; supporting the Farmworkers of America; establishing the Institute for the Study of Nonviolence; and being a vocal opponent of the war in Vietnam, to mention a few.

The Humanitas International Human Rights Committee opposed apathy, fear, greed, cruelty, and any other form of violence -- from the personal to the international. Humanitas fought for the basic rights of individuals, regardless of ideology -- from the rights to life, justice, religious belief, and free expression, to the right to refuse to kill.

The very first activity of Humanitas International was an Open Letter to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam asking that government to honor its commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This letter split apart the old anti-war movement. As the number of Boat People fleeing Vietnam increased, Humanitas called upon the U.S. to send the 7th Fleet on a search and rescue mission in the South China Sea.

In October 1979 Joan Baez and Jeanne Murphy travelled to Southeast Asia on a fact-finding mission to visit the refugee camps. As the refugee crisis in Cambodia worsened Humanitas launched the Cambodian Emergency Relief Fund in San Francisco to raise money for relief assistance. In February 1980 Baez and Murphy returned to Southeast Asia to represent Humanitas in the "Cambodia: March For Survival" to the Thai/Cambodian border in an attempt to bring relief supplies into Cambodia.

In the 1980s and 1990s Humanitas took action for many causes and supported the actions of other organizations. These activities included sponsoring human rights symposiums and nonviolence conferences; the Madrid Consultation on Human Rights and Disarmament; a trip by Baez and Murphy to Latin America in 1981 which produced the film "There But For Fortune" about human rights abuses in Latin America; the Bridging the Atlantic tour of week-end conferences to internationalize peace work; and opposition to the death penalty, to give only the briefest overview.

The core group of Humanitas International was always small, but the membership numbered in the thousands with support groups in the United Kingdom and West Germany. The size and style of the organization made it able to move swiftly and effectively, taking on trouble areas which were unpopular, or even unknown, and it did conscientious follow-up work.

Joan Baez willingly lent her name and talent to be used in fundraising, appearing at fundraisers, and heading concert tours for human rights and the Humanitas International Human Rights Committee.


13 linear feet : 32 document boxes, 2 oversize boxes, 1 reel

Language of Materials



Humanitas International Human Rights Committee was organized by Joan Baez in 1979, the group worked to focus attention on human rights violations in Vietnam, the boat people, the plight of Cambodian refugees, human rights violations in Latin America, and elsewhere, as well as supporting disarmament, nonviolence, and opposing the death penalty. The collection contains correspondence, minutes, finances, publications, newspaper clippings, subject files, audio/visual materials, and information on other organizations.


This collection is arranged into the following series: Series 1: Joan Baez - Personal, 1963-1983 Series 2: Organization Files - General, 1979-1991 Series 3: Refugees in Southeast Asia, 1979 Series 4: Events and Actions, 1980-1992 Series 5: Action Letters/Endorsements, 1979-1992 Series 6: Non-Humanitas Materials, 1965-1980 Series 7: Oversize, 1979-1989 Series 8: Photographs, sound recordings, moving image films, 1979-1990

Processed by Harvey N. Gardiner Edited by Samantha Audsley, March 2012
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries, Rare and Distinctive Collections Repository

1720 Pleasant Street
184 UCB
Boulder Colorado 80503 United States