Scope and Contents
This collection includes meeting minutes (1966-1968), newsletters (1967-1969), and mailings. The bulk of the collection is correspondence, much of which deals with adoption and finance. There is also staff correspondence, both domestic and with Morgan Sibbett, the MSVC representative in Saigon, as well as correspondence with Welcome House. There are adoption documents including one received by FMSVC from the South Vietnamese government in May 1967 describing 60 Vietnamese children. The collection also includes reference material about adoption and samples from the card files.
Correspondents include Barbara Burr, Jan de Hartog, Marjorie de Hartog, Rachel de Leeuw, Carla Dietze, Dawn B. Fulford, Wendy Grant, Mary L. Graves, Ruth Hartsough, C. Frank Ortloff, Morgan Sibbett, Phyllis B. Taylor, and Robert Wilson.
The papers of Morgan Sibbett were donated in June 1982. The bulk of his papers are dated 1967 and 1968, the time period when he served as FMSVC's representative in Saigon; these were incorporated into the rest of the FMSVC records. One folder of material that predates and postdates his time with FMSVC was removed and made a CDGA under his name.
Friends Meeting for Sufferings of Vietnamese Children (FMSVC) had its beginnings in the Friends General Conference, held in June 1966 at Cape May, New Jersey. The escalation of fighting in Vietnam, particularly the bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong and the plight of the Vietnamese civilian population, led a group of Friends attending this conference to convene and discuss ways in which action might be taken. Twenty-five members of this group, led by Dutch author Jan de Hartog and his wife Marjorie, gathered at Pendle Hill in Wallingford, Pennsylvania, in July of 1966 and formalized the Friends Meeting for Sufferings of Vietnamese Children, "a group of individual Friends of various nations, united by a common concern." This concern was directed specifically "towards helping those burned, injured, and orphaned children who cannot be treated or adopted in Vietnam or a similar culture, and who, without our intervention, would probably not survive."
The FMSVC emphasised finding family foster care for children undergoing medical treatment in the United States, facilitated permanent adoptions of orphaned Vietnamese and Amerasian children, and explored ways to help finance medical treatment. Rachel de Leeuw, the recording clerk, wrote in 1968, "We are a private voluntary group of individuals, mostly Quaker, who simple felt the need to do something to alleviate the suffering of Vietnamese children, the most innocent victims of this war."
Headquartered in Media, Pennsylvania, during its three year existence, FMSVC was neither a political organization nor an adoption agency. It established a working relationship with Welcome House, an official adoption agency that worked especially with children of mixed race. Welcome House located in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, was part of the Pearl Buck Foundation. FMSVC also worked cooperatively with the Committee of Responsibility, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), International Social Services, and Physicians for Social Responsibility.
In May 1967, FMSVC received from the government of South Vietnam a list of 60 Vietnamese children available for adoption. Morgan Sibbett of Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, travelled to Saigon as the FMSVC representative and remained there approximately six months, working both with agencies in Vietnam and with Welcome House to make the necessary arrangements for some of these children to be sent to American families. Finally, in January 1968, seven children successfully completed the voyage to this country. Five more followed in May. All were placed for adoption with FMSVC families.
Welcome House, with whom FMSVC had worked so closely, did not wish to pursue further adoption arrangements for one year until it could determine how the first group of twelve children had adapted. This delay, and the failure to find another adoption agency with which to work, caused FMSVC to decide in May 1968 that "as an amateur agency with small resources, we should now leave the operation of adoptions in the hands of professional agencies," and it further decided to center its efforts on "education and rehabilitation of school-age homeless children" in Vietnam. In its final newsletter (October 1969) FMSVC announced that it had resolved to "lay down the meeting," dissolving the organization. The balance of funds was turned over to the AFSC to be used for its rehabilitation projects in Vietnam.