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          Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom

Poster, Women’s International Congress, Poster, Women’s International Congress,
Dublin, July 9-15 WILPF, WILPF 1st Accession, 15-13

Established in 1915, during World War I, 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 the political, social, and psychological conditions which can assure peace, freedom, and justice for all.


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. WILPF founders in 1915 maintained that peace is not rooted only in treaties between great powers or a turning away of weapons alone, but can only flourish on the bases of justice, freedom, non-violence, opportunity and equality for all. 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 and 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.


The papers of the headquarters of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom in Geneva, Switzerland, came to the Archives, University of Colorado at Boulder Libraries starting in 1970, through the auspices of Professor Elise Boulding of the Sociology Department. Professor Boulding, a prominent peace activist and scholar, was a member and former officer of WILPF.


The WILPF archive is organized into four accessions. The first accession (1983), already available world-wide on microfilm, contains the files from 1915-1978. The Second Accession (2000) holds papers received between 1983 and 2000, but contains considerable overlapping files. The Third Accession contains materials received after 2000. The Swarthmore College Peace Collection Accessions holds international WILPF materials donated from their collection. In its entirety, this archival collection 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.


The WILPF collections have attracted considerable scholarship, and continue to elicit inquiry and draw visiting researchers to the Archives from around the world, such as Germany, Austria, Italy, Australia, France, the United Kingdom. International scholars, as well as American scholars have visited or inquired from dozens of universities, on the subjects Jane Addams, of institutional organization, internationalism, peace education, individual WILF luminaries, and the histories of national sections.