Scope and Contents
Much of this collection remains unprocessed and unorganized. In 1994 SCPC received approximately 108 cartons of completely unorganized files were received from family and friends. This was reduced to 98 boxes by the Curator. In September 2003, the archivist sorted through all material and discarded 3/4 of it (mailings from many groups, photocopies of material from the groups for which Elston worked that did not include anything about his involvement with these groups, newspaper clippings, etc. etc.).
Gerhard Elston was born in Berlin, Germany on June 21, 1924. Along with his family he was a teenage refugee in Great Britain, 1939-1941. The Elston family emigrated to the U.S. in 1945. Gerhard Elston served with Signal Corps of the U.S. Army from 1946-1947. After World War II, Elston served with many international organizations as Regional Executive for the World University Service (1958-1963), Director for Work Among International Students for the National Council of Churches (1963-1965), Associate Director of the Department of International Affairs for the National Council of Churces (1965-1973), Director of the [Lutheran] Center for Ethics and Society (1973-1976), Project Director for Theology in the Americas (1976-1978). He was Executive Director for Amnesty Internationl USA from 1978 to 1981, and International Coordinator for the Planetary Initiative for the World We Choose. Elston's other work included helping with Church World Service’s Hungarian emergency resettlement program, acting as editor for the Lutheran World Federation in Geneva, teaching economics and history at Carthage College, and, translating plays and other works and acting as interpreter at various conferences. Elston also served as board member of Bread for the World, Clergy and Laity Concerned, World Student Federation (U.S. Committee), American Christians for the Abolition of Torture, the American Civil Liberties Union’s advisory committee on church/state issues, Christianity and Crisis, International Working Group on Death, Dying and Bereavement Problems, Asian Studies Association, Christians Associated for Relations with Eastern Europe, and Survival International USA. Elston died on October 29, 1992 of massive heart attack.
Elston lived for many years in Levittown, Pennsylvania, with his wife Marie-Louise (Isse) and their three sons (Ken, Dirk and Jan). For last few years of his life Elston lived in Philadelphia with his companion Bonnie Garchinsky.