Scope and Contents
It was originally expected that there would be a fairly large collection of papers given to the SCPC by Abe Kaufman to document his life, but this did not materialize. The original designation of DG 205 for the papers was changed to CDG-A status in March 2007.
[most of this information is from "Radical Pacifism" by Scott H. Bennett, 2003, p. 25-27]
Abraham Kaufman was born on December 5, 1908. His father, like many Jews, had fled Russian oppression in 1905 or 1906, emigrating to America and settling in the Jewish immigrant community in South Bronx (New York City). Abe grew up hearing debates on socialism in his father's dry goods store. By the time he was ten or twelve, Kaufman was attending socialist street-corner meetings and open air debates. He joined the Young People's Socialist League in 1924, where two years later he met his wife, Ida Yavner. Kaufman considered himself a secular Jew, as well as an atheist and a humanist, joining the Unitarian Bronx Free Fellowship (in 1926) and the Brooklyn Ethical Culture Society (in the 1930s). He met Jessie Wallace Hughan in 1922, who was teaching his tenth-grade English class at the Textile High School. Their joint interest in socialism, and eventually pacifism, led to a thirty-year friendship. On his 18th birthday, Kaufman signed the War Resisters League Declaration and joined the WRL, which had been founded in part by Hughan. In October 1928, Kaufman became the first paid employee of the WRL, earning $10 a week, contributed by Jessie Hughan and her sister (this position eventually resulted in his becoming Executive Secretary). Also in 1928 Kaufman served as treasurer of the United States Committee of Youth Against War and Fascism.
During the 1930s and 1940s, Kaufman assumed several administrative positions in the peace movement. He was Secretary of the United Pacifist Committee and the Joint Peace Board (later renamed the Peace Strategy Board). He resigned from the WRL in 1947. In response to the 1940 draft, Kaufman co-founded the Metropolitan Board for Conscientious Objectors, which provided free, non-sectarian counseling, and sometimes legal aid, to conscientious objectors (COs) in the New York region. Kaufman was affiliated with the Metropolitan Board for Conscientious Objectors for many years. He continued his efforts on behalf of COs after he and his wife moved to Port Charlotte (Florida), where he was involved with the Draft Counseling Service in the 1980s (and 1970s?). In their later years, Abe and Ida took part in local peace activities, joining the Charlotte Citizens for Peace and helping to organize events for the Fellowship of Reconciliation in their area of Florida.
Kaufman hoped to write a history of Jessie Wallace Hughan, and possibly of the WRL as well, but had to eventually admit that it was beyond him. Instead, he shared his knowledge with writers and historians, such as Frances Early and Scott Bennett, who found his notes, correspondence and conversations to be valuable source material.
Abraham Kaufman died in September 2004.