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Guide to the Keep America Out of War Congress Records TAM 331

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
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Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

Collection processed by Jan Hilley

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on May 21, 2018
English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Descriptive Summary

Title: Keep America Out of War Congress Records, 1936-1946
Dates [inclusive]: 1936-1946
Abstract: Initiated in March of 1938, the Keep America Out of War Congress was a pacifist-socialist coalition whose goal was to preserve and strengthen the anti-war movement. After the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the group dissolved and briefly became the Provisional Committee Toward a Democratic Peace. In early 1942 it was reorganized into the Post War World Council. This collection contains membership cards and mailing lists, correspondence, meeting minutes, topical files on various pertinent subjects, receipt books and a number of pamphlets published by the organizations.
Quantity: 1.5 Linear Feet In 1 record carton and 2 oversize flat boxes.
Language: Materials are in English
Call Phrase: TAM 331

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Historical/Biographical Note

The Keep America Out of War Congress (KAOWC) was officially founded at a rally held on March 6, 1938, in the New York Hippodrome. The host and sponsor was the Socialist Party, and the chairman, veteran pacifist reformer Oswald Garrison Villard. Speakers included Robert M. LaFollette Jr., socialist leader Norman Thomas and columnist John T. Flynn. The national platform called for withdrawal from such 'imperialist' involvement as the stationing of American ships and marines in China's war zones; the scrapping of plans for industrial mobilization, conscription, and foreign alliances; the termination of war trade; and national adoption of a war referendum. The Congress created a skeletal organization (initially called the Keep America Out of War Committee), and made provision for state and local units.

For most of its life, the KAOWC was a coalition composed of the Socialist Party and six militant peace organizations: The Peace Section of the American Friends Service Committee; The Fellowship of Reconciliation; The World Peace Commission of the Methodist Church; The American Section of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom; The National Council for the Prevention of War; and The War Resisters League.

One controversial aspect of the organization, given its liberal constituency, was its relationship with the America First Committee. While opposing America First's stress upon rearmament and its silence concerning conscription, the KAOWC still welcomed its formation, accepted significant donations and co-sponsored some New York rallies. When Charles A. Lindbergh, America First's most noted leader, gave a speech on September 11, 1941, claiming that 'Jewish groups' were among those agitating for war, the Congress governing committee strongly objected on the grounds that he was encouraging domestic intolerance.

In December of 1941, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, the KAOWC quickly dissolved. Property was turned over to a hastily formed body, the Provisional Committee Toward a Democratic Peace, which, in early 1942, became the Post War World Council. The new organization was created by Norman Thomas and his associates to work toward a democratic, non-imperialist peace settlement. Thomas was committed to developing plans for peace that would prevent all future wars, promoting international relations and universal disarmament in newsletters, editorials, press releases and letters to government officials and guiding the organization as it published pamphlets and organized conferences. Activities slowed down in 1965 because of his failing health. Some efforts, including a newsletter, continued until December 1967 when the organization was officially dissolved after Thomas suffered a severe stroke.

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Scope and Content Note

The majority of items within this collection relate to the Keep America Out of War Congress. Included are a small amount of correspondence, minutes of several governing committee meetings and internal memoranda. There are two receipt books (October 1941 through February 1942) that reflect contributions, membership dues, and purchases of publications and event tickets. Many annotations have been made on the duplicate receipts. In addition, a card file contains member names and addresses, pledges, payment of dues, some descriptions of the individuals (e.g. job, age), comments about correspondence, special requests, event attendance and various other notations. Many topical files are included, touching on such subjects as "Anti-Nazi Activities and Unrest in Europe," "Labor and War," "Post War Problems," "Wiretapping," and "What War Would Do to America." The files contain articles, newspaper clippings, speeches, correspondence, press releases, newsletters, pamphlets, excerpts from The Congressional Record, bulletins and notes.

There is a relatively small amount of material associated with the Post War World Council, including correspondence, descriptive fliers and pamphlets on topics such as peacetime conscription, world federation, international cartels and world peace, disarmament and self-determination for Puerto Rico.

The items in this collection were accumulated by Alice L. Dodge (Wolfson) who served as the Organization Secretary for the Keep American Out of War Congress.

Arrangement

Folders are arranged alphabetically within one series:

Missing Title

  1. Series I: Keep America Out of War Congress and Subsequent Organizations, 1936-1946.

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Dodge, Alice L.
  • Thomas, Norman, 1884-1968

Document Type

  • Minutes (administrative records)
  • Pamphlets.
  • Membership lists.
  • Press releases.
  • Correspondence.
  • Notes.
  • Clippings (information artifacts)
  • Brochures.
  • Circulars (fliers)
  • Card files.
  • Bulletins.

Subject Organizations

  • Keep America Out of War Congress
  • America First Committee
  • Post War World Council
  • Provisional Committee Toward a Democratic Peace

Subject Topics

  • Socialism -- United States.
  • Peace movements -- United States.
  • World War, 1939-1945.
  • Pacifists -- United States.

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Administrative Information

Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive has no information about copyright ownership for this collection and is not authorized to grant permission to publish or reproduce materials from it. Materials in this collection, which were created in 1936-1946, are expected to enter the public domain in 2066.

Preferred Citation

Identification of item, date; Keep America Out of War; TAM 331; box number; folder number; Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, New York University.

Related Material at the Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

Oral History of the American Left: Radical Histories Collection, Interviews with Alice Dodge Wolfson and Fay Bennet. (OH 002)

Daniel Bell Research Files on US Communism, Socialism, and the Labor Movement. (TAM 080)

Norman Thomas Papers (TAM 423)

Sources: The Swarthmore College Peace Collection holds records of both the Keep America Out of War Congress, 1938-1942 (Collection CDG-A) and the Post War World Council, 1942-1967 (Collection DG 062).

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Materials donated by Alice Dodge Wolfson in 2001. The accession number associated with this gift is 2001.207.

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Container List

Series I: Keep America Out of War Congress and Successor Organizations, 1936-1946., 1936-1946

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 Keep America Out of War Congress
1939-1940, undated
Box: 2 Keep America Out of War Congress: Card File - Members, Addresses, Dues and Contributions, Notes (I)
1938-1941
Box: 3 Keep America Out of War Congress: Card File - Members, Addresses, Dues and Contributions, Notes (II)
1938-1941
Box: 1 Folder : 2 Keep America Out of War Congress: Duplicate Receipts
Oct 14, 1941 - Dec 3, 1941
Box: 1 Folder : 3 Keep America Out of War Congress: Duplicate Receipts ( Provisional Committee Toward a Democratic Peace begins at Jan 12, 1942)
Dec 3, 1941 - Feb 25, 1942
Box: 1 Folder : 4 Keep America Out of War Congress: Subject Files - Anti-Labor Legislation
1941
Box: 1 Folder : 5 Keep America Out of War Congress: Subject Files - Anti-Nazi Activities and Unrest in Europe
1941
Box: 1 Folder : 6 Keep America Out of War Congress: Subject Files - Army Morale
1941
Box: 1 Folder : 7 Keep America Out of War Congress: Subject Files - Britain and War
1941
Box: 1 Folder : 8 Keep America Out of War Congress: Subject Files - Causes of Entry into Last War
1941
Box: 1 Folder : 9 Keep America Out of War Congress: Subject Files - Eight Points
1941
Box: 1 Folder : 10 Keep America Out of War Congress: Subject Files - Farmers
1941
Box: 1 Folder : 11 Keep America Out of War Congress: Subject Files - Food for Europe
1940-1941
Box: 1 Folder : 12 Keep America Out of War Congress: Subject Files - Impossibility of Invasion
1941
Box: 1 Folder : 13 Keep America Out of War Congress: Subject Files - India
1940-1941
Box: 1 Folder : 14 Keep America Out of War Congress: Subject Files - Inflation
1941
Box: 1 Folder : 15 Keep America Out of War Congress: Subject Files - Japan
1941
Box: 1 Folder : 16 Keep America Out of War Congress: Subject Files - Labor and War
1941
Box: 1 Folder : 17 Keep America Out of War Congress: Subject Files - Local Notes
1941
Box: 1 Folder : 18 Keep America Out of War Congress: Subject Files - Negroes
1941
Box: 1 Folder : 19 Keep America Out of War Congress: Subject Files - Neutrality Campaign, Ship Sinkings and Roosevelt's May Day Speech
1941
Box: 1 Folder : 20 Keep America Out of War Congress: Subject Files - Organizational Suggestions and Actions
1941
Box: 1 Folder : 21 Keep America Out of War Congress: Subject Files - Peace Offensive
1941
Box: 1 Folder : 22 Keep America Out of War Congress: Subject Files - Post War Problems
1941
Box: 1 Folder : 23 Keep America Out of War Congress: Subject Files - Priority Unemployment
1941
Box: 1 Folder : 24 Keep America Out of War Congress: Subject Files - Roosevelt (FDR) Quotes
1936-1941
Box: 1 Folder : 25 Keep America Out of War Congress: Subject Files - Smear Campaign
1941
Box: 1 Folder : 26 Keep America Out of War Congress: Subject Files - Social Security Revision
1941
Box: 1 Folder : 27 Keep America Out of War Congress: Subject Files - Taxation, Profits and Cost of Living
1941
Box: 1 Folder : 28 Keep America Out of War Congress: Subject Files - US Raw Materials to the Axis
1941
Box: 1 Folder : 29 Keep America Out of War Congress: Subject Files - Various Anti-War Items
1941
Box: 1 Folder : 30 Keep America Out of War Congress: Subject Files - War Aims, Britain During and After the War
1940-1941
Box: 1 Folder : 31 Keep America Out of War Congress: Subject Files - War and Foreign Trade
1941
Box: 1 Folder : 32 Keep America Out of War Congress: Subject Files - War Economy and Armament Economics
1940-1941
Box: 1 Folder : 33 Keep America Out of War Congress: Subject Files - What Does the Peace Movement Accomplish?
1941
Box: 1 Folder : 34 Keep America Out of War Congress: Subject Files - What War Would Do to America
1941
Box: 1 Folder : 35 Keep America Out of War Congress: Subject Files - Wiretapping
1941
Box: 1 Folder : 36 Mailing Addresses
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 37 Post War World Council
1942-1945, undated
Box: 1 Folder : 38 Post War World Council: Peacetime Conscription
1944-1945, undated
Box: 1 Folder : 39 Post War World Council: Pamphlets - Various Topics
1942-1946, undated

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