Skip to main content

The Women's International League for Peace and Freedom

The Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) was founded in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1919, an outgrowth of the International Committee of Women for Permanent Peace, formed at the Hague during World War I. Composed primarily of white, educated, middle‐class women, the U.S. Section began as the Woman's Peace Party, organized by the social worker Jane Addams in 1915. Still functioning with international headquarters in Geneva, the WILPF has branches in countries across the globe.

With a peak membership of approximately 16,000 in the mid‐1930s, the U.S. Section was an active and influential organization in the American peace movement between the two world wars. This was due largely to the astute leadership of first president Addams, as well as that of the former Wellesley economics professor Emily Greene Balch and the Quaker activist Hannah Clothier Hull, and the administrative talents of executive secretary Dorothy Detzer and organization secretary Mildred Scott Olmsted. Addams and Balch were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (1931 and 1946, respectively), the only American women so far to be so honored.

Only a minority of WILPF antiwar activists were absolute pacifists, but all were committed to a world that repudiated aggression and violence as a way of resolving disputes among nations. Erroneously accused by critics of isolationism, the interwar WILPF endorsed all cooperative endeavors internationally that did not involve war or preparation for war. It supported disarmament, consultative pacts, arbitration, and the World Court, and advocated aid to Jewish and other victims of Nazi persecution, but opposed U.S. involvement in World War II.

After 1945, the U.S. Section became alarmed by the Cold War, with its escalating arms race and nuclear weapons proliferation. Now led by Olmsted, the WILPF opposed American involvement in the Korean War and the Vietnam War; continued its longtime support of equal rights for women as well as for ethnic and racial minorities; and protested American low‐intensity warfare in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
[See also Nonviolence; Pacifism; Peace and Antiwar Movements; Quakers.]

Bibliography

Harriet Hyman Alonso , Peace as a Women's Issue: A History of the U.S. Movement for World Peace and Women's Rights, 1991.
Margaret Hope Bacon , One Woman's Passion for Peace and Freedom: The Life of Mildred Scott Olmsted, 1993.
Carrie Foster , The Women and the Warriors: The U.S. Section of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, 1915–1946, 1995.

Carrie Foster

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"The Women's International League for Peace and Freedom." The Oxford Companion to American Military History. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Aug. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"The Women's International League for Peace and Freedom." The Oxford Companion to American Military History. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 21, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/womens-international-league-peace-and-freedom

"The Women's International League for Peace and Freedom." The Oxford Companion to American Military History. . Retrieved August 21, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/womens-international-league-peace-and-freedom

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.