Scope and Content note
This collection contains materials related to Gilbert Macmaster, the majority of which are correspondence written and received by MacMaster during his years living in Germany through the end of his life in Switzerland, with the bulk of this correspondence covering the years 1940-1967. The collection also includes diaries, essays, photographs, passports, and miscellaneous papers. Major topics represented in the collection are relief aid to Germany through the AFSC child feeding mission, MacMaster’s activities in Basel as the American Friends’ representative during World War II and after, and MacMaster’s personal life. As an American citizen living in Germany during the interwar years his letters, diaries, and other papers provide a valuable perspective of the changes in Europe during this time. The collection also includes a large amount of correspondence between William Measey and Gilbert MacMaster from 1950-1964 which was separately donated by Douglas Steere in 1980.
This collection is divided into six series and material is arranged chronologically when possible, with undated material at the end of folders.
Correspondence is divided by individual or group. The parties represented are the AFSC (1942-1968), Henry Tatnall Brown (1925-1938), Emma Cadbury (1958-1961), Margaret Jones (1945-1967), Margarethe Lachmund (1965-1966), Clarence and Lilly Pickett (1949-1967), Alfred and Mary Scattergood (1925-1961), Douglas Steere (1963-1967), the Youngstown Vindicator and Prof. Jeremiah Jenks (1920-1924), and other correspondence. Many of these individuals were also involved in the AFSC, but the correspondence in their folders is primarily personal. Some of their business correspondence is contained in the AFSC folder.
Of particular note in the correspondence series is the AFSC correspondence, which is between Gilbert MacMaster and AFSC members in primarily in the United States. The correspondence discusses MacMaster’s role with the AFSC and his actions in Germany. Also included in AFSC correspondence is information about MacMaster’s pension and death in 1967. The Clarence and Lilly Pickett correspondence involves both personal and business related correspondence, and contains a collection of photographs and newspaper clippings, located in the last Pickett folder.
MacMaster's journals and diaries include a typed copy of Gilbert MacMaster’s diary, entitled “Some Simple Notes on My Long Life” divided into three different parts from his birth in 1869 through 1961 and contains entries for each year. The three sections are titled “The Years Before,” “The Thirty Years,” and “The Years After,” and discuss his personal life and activities. The thirty years that MacMaster refers to are his three decades of work with the AFSC. Also included in this series are some manuscripts of other diaries written by MacMaster, including one that covers MacMaster’s trip back to the US in 1924 written for his wife Margarethe.
The third series contains literary productions including a memoir and essays by MacMaster as well as poetry and stories by MacMaster’s sister Elizabeth MacMaster Brockway. The memoir of MacMaster’s life is in German, and was printed by the Swiss Yearly Meeting in 1959 and given to MacMaster for the events of his 90th birthday, his wife Margarethe’s 81st birthday, and their 58th wedding anniversary. The Essays folder contains essays “Geneva,” “German-Polish Relations,” “Munich Reminiscences,” “Thoughts of an Old Man upon the Formation of a Peace Corps,” and “The Valley” by MacMaster.
Photographs include miscellaneous photographs of members of the MacMaster family along with those of many other people. Many photographs contain information on the back, but many are unidentified. Some photographs contain AFSC members, including those on the Child Feeding Mission.
The “Miscellaneous” series contains money, passports, and other documentation. The money and passports are primarily from MacMaster’s time in Germany and are for both MacMaster and his wife Margarethe. The money is in the form of German Marks from the 1920s. The miscellaneous papers include documents from Gilbert and Margarethe MacMaster’s wedding in 1901, children’s drawings, a list of AFSC overseas workers from 1917-1925, an extract from “The Problems of Lasting Peace” by Herbert Hoover, and many newspaper clippings.
The last series, “Measey and MacMaster Correspondence,” contains correspondence from 1950 to 1964 between Gilbert MacMaster and William Measey (a Philadelphia area Quaker and longtime friend of MacMaster), made as a separate donation to the collection by Douglas Steere in 1980. In their correspondence the two men discuss personal matters, politics, world affairs, and the lives of friends and acquaintances. Measey was very involved and invested in Haverford College, and his letters often mention the school.
Gilbert MacMaster (1869-1967) was a Quaker from Ohio who travelled to Germany sometime before 1914 and established a business there. At the outbreak of World War I he returned to the US, but again travelled to Germany in 1919 in association with the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) to work in food aid for children. In 1925 he arranged for a peace conference between Poland and Germany, again with the AFSC, and in the 1930s he was active on behalf of Germans in prison and Jews in concentration camps. MacMaster moved to Switzerland sometime in the late 1930s or early 1940s and arranged for food parcels to be sent from Swiss Friends to Germany for Quakers and others in 1946. Gilbert and his wife Margarethe lived in Basel and were members of the Basel Meeting until their deaths, his on October 31st, 1967 and hers a week later.
(Information from the Dictionary of Quaker Biography)