One hundred years ago today on April 28, 1915, the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) was formed when 1200 women from neutral and warring nations met in the Hague, Netherlands with the aim of negotiating the end of World War I, and to urge peaceful resolution and ‘continuous mediation’ to avoid future conflicts.
In conjunction with this centenary anniversary, the Archive of Recorded Sound (ARS) is very pleased to announce the release of 256 recordings of oral history interviews conducted with over 90 veteran members of WILPF from local California and other states’ branches in the USA. These recordings, part of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom Collection, are now freely accessible to the world via Searchworks. Also featured are recordings from the 1967 WILPF National Conference at Asilomar, in Pacific Grove, CA. The oral history interviews that comprise the WILPF collection were recorded between approximately 1979 and 1989, as part of the Women's Peace Oral History project, started by Judith Porter Adams in 1979 to celebrate WILPF’s 70th anniversary. As the director of the project, Adams trained student and volunteer interviewers, coordinated and funded the project with support of the Jane Addams Peace Association and individual donations, and collected and helped to arrange the materials now housed at the ARS. The interviewees include ‘rank and file’ as well as prominent members who have held state, national, and international leadership positions in WILPF, as well as the associated Women Strike for Peace movement (many were active in both). With a few exceptions, older women (over 60) were interviewed because of their years of involvement in peace and justice issues. Those who were still alive in the year the collection was processed by the ARS (2011-2014) were still dedicated activists in their late 80’s and 90’s. Adams, along with students at Stanford and San Jose State, and volunteers conducted the interviews. The project’s goal was to preserve the stories of how the women became committed to peace and justice, and what sustained them over their lifetime of activism. The results of this project formed the basis of a book by Adams published in 1991 entitled Peacework. Adams subsequently donated the original audio recordings from the project, along with many transcripts and other supporting documentation, to the ARS in 2011.
Thanks go to Judith Porter Adams for her extensive help in making this collection available, including working with interviewees and interviewers to obtain signed releases. Additionally, thanks go to the numerous people within Stanford University Libraries (SUL) who worked to make the interview recordings available, particularly Hannah Frost, Nathan Coy and Geoff Willard at the Stanford Media Preservation Lab; Justine Withers in SUL's Data Control Unit; and Ben Albritton, Laura Wilsey, Laney McGlohon, and Shelley Doljack in SUL's Digital Library Systems and Services (DLSS) department.