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Kaltenbach Family Correspondence

Identifier: SFHL-RG5-291

Scope and Contents

The collection contains mainly correspondence sent by John E. Kaltenbach to his parents while attending Wesleyan, then Yale Divinity School, and later while he was working at Scattergood Hostel. It also includes correspondence sent by John's sister Louise to her parents, mostly while she was attending Swarthmore, 1935-1939. There are a few miscellaneous letters which John's parents received from other correspondents.


  • 1933-1941


Limitations on Accessing the Collection

The collection is open for research.

Copyright and Rights Information

Permission to reuse, publish, or reproduce items in this collection beyond the bounds of Fair Use or other exemptions to copyright law must be obtained from the copyright holder or their heirs/assigns. See

Biographical / Historical

John E. Kaltenbach (1915-1984) grew up in Royersford, Pa. While studying at Wesleyan University, he was involved with the Christian Student Association and the founding of the Peace Action League. After graduating from Wesleyan, he attended Yale Divinity School and planned to become a minister. In 1939 he left Yale to work with refugees at the Scattergood Hostel, serving as acting director from 1938-1940. By the time he left Yale to work at Scattergood, he had become a Quaker. He married Ruth E. Stanton at Middletown Monthly Meeting, Delaware Co., Pa., in 1941. In later life, he helped found the Meeting School, Rindge, NH, and Woolman Hill Conference Center.

Scattergood Friends School in West Branch, Iowa, was a Quaker boarding school between 1890 and 1931. It was closed during the Depression, but reopened as Scattergood Hostel in 1938 when the American Friends Service Committee was searching for short-term housing for refugees from Europe. Between April 1939 and March 1943, Scattergood housed about 185 refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe, including families and children. John Kaltenbach met the first four arriving guests at Philadelphia's YMCA and drove them to Iowa in April 1939. Most refugees stayed at Scattergood for 3-4 months. While living at Scattergood, refugees studied English, participated in work crews, and grew their own food. In 1944, Scattergood reopened as a school.


0.5 Linear Feet (1 box)




The collection consists primarily of letters written by John E. Kaltenbach to his parents, Edward C. and Ethel Kaltenbach, from Wesleyan University, Yale Divinity School, and while working as the acting director for the Scattergood Hostel for European Refugees in Iowa. Also a small number of letters from his sister, Linda Kaltenbach, while a student at Swarthmore College.

Physical Location

For current information on the location of materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.

Immediate Source of Acquisition


Acc. 2009-021

Related Materials

See Friends Historical Library for a copy of "A Life I did not plan: an autobiography" by Roy J. Clampitt which references the Scattergood Hostel, "Far from Hitler: the Scattergood Hostel for European Refugees, 1939-1943," a catalog of an exhibit sponsored by the Iowa Jewish Historical Society, and "Out of Hitler's reach: the Scattergood Hostel for European refugees, 1939-43". See Swarthmore's Peace Collection for the Scattergood monthly news bulletin (all issues between 1940 and 1943). See also Haverford's Quaker Collection for "Scattergood Hostel News," covering March 1940-March 1943 and a book entitled "Scattergood Hostel."

Kaltenbach Family Correspondence, 1935-1941
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