Dorothy Hewitt Hutchinson (l905-l984) was born in Middletown, Connecticut. Polio at age five left her partially crippled. She received a B.A. from Mount Holyoke College in l927 and a Ph.D. In zoology from Yale in l932. In l933, she was married to R. Cranford Hutchinson, a professor of anatomy at Jefferson Medical College in Pennsylvania. The couple adopted and raised three children.
Although she grew up a Methodist, Hutchinson became a member of the Society of Friends when she joined the Falls (Pennsylvania) Monthly Meeting in l940. She began to gain influence in the peace movement when her pamphlet A Call to Peace Now was printed by the Friends in l943. l3,000 copies were printed and sold. That summer, Hutchinson and a small group of people started the Peace Now Movement, using her pamphlet to rally support for the principle of a negotiated settlement rather than unconditional surrender of the Axis powers. This group included George W. Hartmann, a psychology professor at Columbia, then on leave at Harvard, and John Collett, a Norwegian who had left Norway when the Nazis invaded. Bessie Simon, who had supported the America First movement, became the PNM secretary and it was endorsed by Frederick Libby of NCPW and Mark Shaw of FOR. Many Americans regarded the Peace Now Movement as "selling out" to the enemy, and pacifist A.J. Muste criticized it for its efforts, saying the only acceptable peace was one in which the Allies would unilaterally and unconditionally lay down their arms. The PNM files were stolen and turned over to the Dies Committee of the House of Representatives whose investigation resulted in hostile publicity. Hutchinson resigned late in l943 because of health problems, although she remained supportive. Collett proved to be mentally unbalanced and Hartmann suffered a nervous breakdown in l944. PNM formally ended in l944 although an effort was made by a group in Philadelphia to continue its work under the name of the American Peace Terms Committee.
Hutchinson, continuing to raise her young family, was in demand as a speaker and writer on subjects both religious and political. She spoke at Friends gatherings, large and small, as well as at other church and secular gatherings.
When her family moved from Fallsington to Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, Hutchinson joined the Abington Friends Meeting and taught an adult class there.
When World War II ended, she worked to promote the United Nations and helped organize a local chapter of the United World Federalists whose purpose was world disarmament through world law. During the l950s, however, she became convinced that total disarmament as conceived by UWF was unrealistic without the creation of acceptable methods for the peaceful settlement of international disputes.
In l954, she and Hazel DuBois, an eighteen year old black woman, undertook a Journey of Friendship under the sponsorship of the Abington Friends Meeting and travelled 25,000 miles around the world, promoting friendship and peace, especially among women.
In l958, Hutchinson fasted for five days at the Atomic Energy Commission. The aim was "to elicit a human response" against U.S. nuclear tests in the Pacific and protest the detention of the Golden Rule peace ship in Hawaii. She attended the World Peoples Conference in Geneva, Switzerland, in l960.
Hutchinson was active in the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. She attended the l4th International Congress in Stockholm in l959 and became president of the U.S. Section of WILPF in l96l, serving until l965. She then served as chairman of International WILPF from l965 until l968, the first American woman to hold that position since Jane Addams. She was one of the American women who attended the Bryn Mawr Conference of American and Soviet Women in l96l.
Representing WILPF, she travelled to Poland in l963, and to Moscow in l964. She continued to be very active in the WILPF Committee on Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes. She urged participation in anti-Vietnam War activities in the late l960s, attending rallies and demonstrations.
Dorothy Hutchinson was an activist in civil rights and civil liberties as well as in the peace movement. In l957, she travelled to Montgomery, Alabama, to celebrate the first anniversary of the bus boycott by blacks, and in l965, she particpated in the Montgomery march for One Man, One Vote, working with Coretta Scott King and handling the switchboard that kept Selma headquarters in touch with the marchers.
In l968, she represented the Quakers in New Delhi at the first International Interreligious Symposium held by the Inter-Religious Committee on Peace, flying from there to Vietnam to meet with Vietnamese government officials.
The Hutchinsons moved from Jenkintown to their retirement home on Jump Off Road near Sewanee, Tennessee, in l969. Dorothy Hutchinson continued to speak and write for peace and to be involved in Friends gatherings. In l977, she was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Mount Holyoke on the fiftieth anniversary of her graduation.