QUESTION: WILPF U.S. Section Executive Director during the 1960s and 1970s

question / pregunta: 

I would like to find out the name of the Executive Director of WILPF U.S. Section during the late 1960s and early 1970s when the national office was located in Philadelphia. If available, I would also like a brief biography.


Archival collections relating to the WILPF are held at the Unviersity of Colorado - Boulder. In looking through the online finding aids I did not see a list of Executive Directors but the information should be easy enough to track down in those materials. The library has several options for research assistance available. I would suggest contacting them via email and asking them (nicely) to look that info up, possibly in one of the annual reports series or historical publications. While their first responsibility is to the students of the University, most archivist take the responsibility of holding unique materials seriously, and are often glad of the opportunity to put them to use.

Subsequent information: UC-Boulder referred a request to Swarthmore for records relating to the US Section. A section of their online finding aid includes a timeline which lists Exectutive Directors:

1968: Glenna Johnson began term as Executive Director
1970: Glenna Johnson ended term as Executive Director.
1971: Dorothy Steffens began term as Executive Director.
1977 (March): Dorothy Steffens ended term as Executive Director.
1977: Melva Mueller began her term as Executive Director.
1981: Libby Frank began term as Executive Director.

The previous historical summary section is not in timeline form, but includes this: "Mildred Scott Olmsted served as executive secretary of the Pennsylvania Branch from 1922 to 1946. Beginning in 1934, she also served as national organization secretary of the U.S. Section, with primary responsibility for maintaining close contact with branches and for developing branch work and organization. Her Organization Letter was an important channel of communication between the national officers and committee chairs and the state and local branch presidents and other members of the National Board. Olmsted became national administrative secretary in 1946. She retired as executive director in 1966 after 44 years of dedicated service to the Pennsylvania Branch and the U.S. Section."

It is not clear who served as Executive Director between Olmstead and Johnson, circa 1967.

Biographical information is not included in the finding aid.

There is a copy of the obituary for Glenna Beach Johnson from January 19, 1973,available online, but the free version only gives access to the terrible OCR text (I've tried to clean it up a bit):

Glenna Johnson Memorial service for Mrs. Glenna Beach Johnson, 67, of Yellow Springs who died Wednesday, will be held at 3:30 p.m. Sunday at the Unita rian Society, 2728 Lancashire Rd, Cleveland. Mrs. Johnson, wife of Axel H. Johnson, 256 Northwood Dr., had lived in Yellow Springs one and one-half years. A psy- isted in "Who's Who in Amerca" and in 1940 was named 'woman of distinction" by the Buffalo, N. Y., Courier - Ex- ·ess. Born Feb. 23, 1905, at Bristol Center, N. Y., Mrs. Johnson received a bachelor of arts degree magna cum laude in 1926 from Syracuse University, a master's in social administration from Western Reserve University two years later and certification as a psychiatric social worker from the University of Buffalo in 1938. She held professional posts in relief administration, case-work, casework supervision and child care in family service, other social service agencies and various Traveler's Aid groups for Cleveland, Akron, and Summit County am Des Moines, Iowa, agencies, in addition to private practice in Akron and Des Moines. A major post was an executive director for the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (W1L) Philadelphia, Pa. Mrs. John son was a member of WIL American Civil Liberties Union, National Association fo the Advancement of Colore People, Congress of Racial Equality, Academy of Certi fied Social Workers, Nationa Association of Social Workers Phi Beta Kappa and Unitarian Fellowship of Yellow Springs. She is survived in addition tc her husband by a daughter Mrs. Karen A. Kitchen o Mahwah, N. J.; two sons, the Rev. David A. Johnson of Pittsburgh, Pa., and Eric W. John son, a doctoral candidate a the University of California a San Diego; five grandchildren and a sister, Caroline Alken berg, Canadaigua, N.Y. Cremation was arranged b; Cook & Son Inc., Columbus Memorial contributions tn a ie made to any chapter of th WIL.

Swarthmore has pictures of Glenna Beach Johnson and Dorothy Steffens online.

Dorothy Steffens is rather more well represented in online sources, which oddly enough makes it difficult to provide a quick biography. I found a citation for her obituary from the Washington Post, but it is behind a paywall. You should be able to get it through interlibrary loan, or via a subscriber;
Peace Activist Dorothy R. Steffens Dies
Educator, Economist Directed International Women's Group
Thursday, July 1, 1999; Page B06
Dorothy R. Steffens, 78, executive director in the 1970s of the Women's
International League for Peace and Freedom, died of a neurological ailment
June 17 at her home in Silver Spring....

Since I had the info up, I

Since I had the info up, I contacted the UCB libraries with the question. I will follow up here if/when I get any response.

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