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Archives & Manuscripts

Lake Mohonk Conference on International Arbitration Records

Identifier: SCPC-DG-054
This collection documents the annual conference (1895-1916) held at Mohonk Mountain House, Ulster County, New York; conference for 1917 was planned but not held; at their height, the conferences attracted 300 leaders of government, business, religion, the press, and education; the purpose of the conferences was to create and direct public sentiment in favor of international arbitration, arbitration treaties, and an international court.


  • 1895-1937
  • Majority of material found within 1895-1918


Restrictions on Access

Collection is open for research without restrictions. Most of this collection is stored off site. Please contact Swarthmore College Peace Collection Curator at least two weeks in advance of your visit to order boxes.


101.5 Linear Feet (101.5 linear ft.)

Historical note

The Lake Mohonk Conference on International Arbitration was founded in 1895 for the purpose of creating and directing public sentiment in favor of international arbitration, arbitration treaties, and an international court.

The first Lake Mohonk Conference on International Arbitration was held in June 1895, at Lake Mohonk in Ulster County, New York. Fifty eminent American men were convened by Albert K. Smiley, a Quaker and the owner of the Lake Mohonk Mountain House, one of the most prestigous summer resorts of the day. The annual conferences soon grew to attract 300 leaders of government, business, religion, the press, and education. After Albert Smiley's death in December, 1912, his place as host of the Conferences was taken by his half-brother, Daniel Smiley. The last conference was held in 1916. Plans for a 1917 conference were made, but it was never held.

The scope of the conferences gradually increased over the years to include: 1) the promotion of arbitration among leaders of the American business community, particularly through trade associations; 2) holding national college essay and oratorical contests on the issue of arbitration; 3) supplying libraries and other educational institutions with information about arbitration and the Lake Mohonk Conferences; 4) creation of a type of Mohonk membership called "correspondents." These individuals received regular mailings of materials and were invited to report to Mohonk about their own activities. These programs ceased after 1917.

Hi Doty wrote in 1963: "The conference was a striking success in terms of favorable attention and persuasiveness, and it soon grew to be an annual meeting of 300. But whatever its size, each year it was a gathering of the elite of American power and influence, leaders of government, business, the church, the press, and the universities. As a deeply concerned Quaker, as a leader in moral and civic associations, as a respected figure in the business world, and as an impeccable host, Albert K. Smiley brought all of his gifts and influence into focus, through the lens of this conference, on the nation.... Smiley was single-minded on the subject of arbitration, and he made the conferences so. At first the enemy was indifference; sometimes it was factionalism; in some years it was the compelling fact of war; but each spring, whatever the difficulties, the Lake Mohonk Conference hewed to its own line, won new leadership for the cause, and sent that leadership back to lead" [Report "Appraisal of the Records of the Lake Mohonk Conferences on International Arbitration" in SCPC Office File].

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of A. Keith Smiley, Jr., Jane Rittenhouse Smiley, Smiley Brothers, Inc.

Bibliographic References

Guide to the Swarthmore College Peace Collection, 2nd ed., p. 37.


Description rules

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