A World without War: How U.S. Feminists and Pacifists Resisted World War I

A World without War: How U.S. Feminists and Pacifists Resisted World War I

A World without War: How U.S. Feminists and Pacifists Resisted World War I

A World without War: How U.S. Feminists and Pacifists Resisted World War I

Excerpt

I first stumbled upon the history of the New York--based Bureau of Legal Advice while studying the papers of Tracy Mygatt and Frances Witherspoon, feminist pacifists who were activists for suffrage, socialism, peace, and civil liberties during World War I and the period surrounding it. My discovery of the Bureau's existence led me from Mygatt's and Witherspoon's archives at the Swarthmore College Peace Collection to the substantial papers of the legal aid bureau that they established, which are housed at the Tamiment Institute Library on Washington Square at New York University. It was not long before I was immersed in a tumultuous, disturbing era. I caught the spirit that animated the exciting and uplifting but tension-charged lives of World War I peace and civil liberties activists. Emerging from the library on Washington Square daily after long hours of research, I found the mental switch to the present disconcerting. Frances Witherspoon and Tracy Mygatt had shared an apartment just around the corner from the library, on Waverley Place; I could easily imagine what my life might have been like had I been a part of the wartime radical pacifist subculture. After a time, I knew where people such as Witherspoon and Mygatt lived and worked and which restaurants and cafés they chose for meetings and social gatherings. It seemed strange to be returning to my accommodations at the YWCA on Forty-seventh Street. Was it not time to meet my comrades for a late "working" supper?

In addition to identifying with some remarkable people, I soon recognized that I was recovering an important chapter in U.S. social history. The Bureau of Legal Advice was a small, poorly fi-

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