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Rachel Davis DuBois Papers

Identifier: SFHL-RG5-035

Scope and Contents

This collection contains the personal papers of Rachel Davis DuBois, including correspondence, writings, her work with interracial, intercultural, and interfaith projects, personal logs and notes, and miscellaneous material.


  • Creation: 1920-1993


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

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

Rachel Davis DuBois (1892-1993) was active throughout her long life initiating and maintaining numerous projects and conferences to promote intercultural and interfaith understanding, shaping the field of intercultural education through her teaching and conferences, corresponding with a long list of friends and associates, writing articles and books, and much more. She worked closely with the New York Friends Center and Earlham College, as well as the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and major Jewish groups. She was a pioneer in inter-faith and inter-racial dialogue and intercultural education and traveled all over the U.S. and abroad to share her programs with other communities.

Rachel Davis was born in 1892 into a Quaker family in Salem County, New Jersey, the daughter of C. Howard and Bertha Haines Davis. She earned a degree in natural science at Bucknell University, Pa., in 1914.

Her first job was as a teacher at a high school in Glassboro, New Jersey. In 1920, she traveled with her husband, Nathan DuBois, to the first World Conference of Friends held in London, England. At this Conference, she learned about the race riot in Chicago and affirmed a lifetime commitment to pacifism. On her return to the U.S., DuBois was inspired by an article by W.E.B. DuBois in which he contended that war would not be overcome until racial prejudice and injustice were overcome. This was crucial to her decision to devote her life to fostering better relationships between cultural and racial groups.

DuBois's experiences contributed to the development of the Group Conversation method, a means of intergroup communication by sharing common experiences. Group Conversation took place in small informal groups of adults who spontaneously shared memories, mostly drawn from childhood, with the aim of achieving a better understanding of the similarities in each other's lives. When she resumed teaching in 1924 at the Woodbury High School in New Jersey, she developed a series of programs to highlight the history and cultural contributions of various ethnic groups. She left Woodbury in 1931 to work for a degree at Teachers College, Columbia University. Three years later, she was the catalyst in the formation of the Service Bureau for Human Relations, an organization which assembled speakers and provided materials on the contribution of all ethnic groups to American society. As Director, she worked with the U.S. Commissioner on Education to develop a popular and award winning series of radio programs, “Americans All- Immigrants All.”

After she resigned from the Service Bureau in 1941, DuBois went to California to attend a month-long seminar led by Gerald Heard, a philosopher who taught that the universe is one organic whole, held together by the power of love. When she returned to New York, she proceeded to “put the pieces of my life in order.” She obtained an amicable divorce, completed the work for a Doctorate in Educational Sociology at New York University. Her thesis was published as Build Together Americans (Hinds, Hayden and Eldridge, 1945). With other leading academics, she founded the Workshop for Cultural Democracy. The Workshop gathered groups in individual homes, where understanding of differences was encouraged and respect was fostered in an informal setting. After a successful program at PS 165 in New York City, she took Group Conversation to other cities. The U.S. State Department sent DuBois to West Germany from 1951-1952, where she trained teachers and social workers in methods of intergroup relations. In 1953, she worked with the Chicago project of the East European Fund (Ford) in its work of integrating the latest newcomers to American life.

In the late 1950's, DuBois concluded that there was a need to adapt Group Conversation for the use of the Society of Friends. She devised the process which came to be known as the Quaker Dialogue Process in 1958. With the backing of the Advancement Committee of the Friends General Conference, she introduced Quaker Dialogue to over 400 groups in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and eight countries in Europe. She was 67 when she started her first Dialogue tour.

In 1965, Dr. Martin Luther King asked her to use the dialogue method in the civil rights struggle. She joined the Southern Christian Leadership Conference staff in Atlanta for two years, where she conducted workshops and trained several Group Conversation leaders. At this time, she also became involved in the interfaith movement and was a member of the Advisory Committee of the Office of Christian-Jewish Relations of the National Council of Churches of Christ.

Rachel spent 1971-74 working at Earlham College, Indiana, training college and community leaders in group methods for developing mutual acceptance among the races. In cooperation with Earlham and a group of community leaders in Richmond, a Center for Ethnic Awareness was established.

After moving back to southern New Jersey in 1977, DuBois adapted group Conversation to the “Living Room Gathering.” Sponsored by the New Jersey Committee for the Humanities, this work fostered the development of intercultural understanding in the local communities of her region.

DuBois continued to work on many of her projects until the late 1980's, particularly the Quaker Dialogue and Interfaith relations projects. She died in 1993 at the age of 101.

  • 1892 Rachel Davis was born to C. Howard and Bertha Haines Davis, a Quaker family in Salem County, New Jersey
  • 1914 Graduated from Bucknell University, Pa.
  • 1914-1920 Taught high school in Glassboro, NJ
  • 1920 Attended first World Conference of Friends in London; became involved with pacificism and race relations
  • 1924 Resumed teaching in 1924 at the Woodbury High School, worked to foster inter-cultural dialogue
  • 1931 Began working for a degree at Teachers College, Columbia University
  • 1934 Helped form the Service Bureau for Human Relations
  • 1941-1945 Resigned from the Service Bureau; obtained amicable divorce; completed Doctorate in Educational Sociology at New York University
  • 1951-1952 Worked at creating dialogue in West Germany for the US state department
  • 1953 worked with Chicago project of the East European Fund (Ford)
  • 1958 Created the Quaker Dialogue Process
  • 1967 Toured to promote Quaker Dialogue Process
  • 1965 Joined Southern Christian Leadership Conference staff in Atlanta at Martin Luther King, Jr.'s request, conducted workshops
  • 1965 Became involved with interfaith movement
  • 1971-74 Continued diversity training at Earlham College, Indiana and established Center for Ethnic Awareness
  • 1977 Moved to southern New Jersey in 1977, worked to create community accross cultural lines
  • 1993 Died at the age of 101


5 linear ft. (10 box)

Language of Materials



Rachel Davis DuBois (1892-1993) was a Quaker educator, writer, and a pioneer in the interfaith and interracial dialogue and intercultural education. This collection contains the personal papers of Rachel Davis DuBois, including correspondence, writings, her work with interracial, intercultural, and interfaith projects, personal logs and notes, and miscellaneous material.


The collection is divided into nine series:

  1. Biographical
  2. Correspondence, 1920-1992
  3. Group Conversation and other community projects
  4. Quaker religious and race relation
  5. Intercultural education
  6. Interfaith relations
  7. Essays and notes
  8. Logs and loose notes
  9. Miscellaneous papers

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donor: Rachel Davis DuBois, 1985,1994

The collection was given by Rachel DuBois and her estate.

Later accrual: FHL.2023.015, given by Susan Mayer.

Separated Materials

The following material has been removed from the collection and recatalogued:

  1. Published works by Rachel Davis DuBois are catalogued in the FHL book collection
  2. Loose item, [incense holder?], stored with the relics collection. (See Series 9 - Folder 164)


  1. Get Together Americans (N.Y.: Harper Bros., 1943)
  2. Build Together Americans (N.Y.: Hinds, Hayden and Eldridge, 1945)
  3. Neighbors in Action (N.Y.: Harper and Bros., 1950)
  4. The Art of Group Conversation by DuBois and Li (N.Y.: Association Press, 1963)
  5. Reducing Social Tension and Conflict by DuBois and Li (N.Y.: Association Press, 1971)

Processing Information

Processed by FHL staff in 1985. Additional papers received after Rachel Davis DuBois's death were added to the collection in 1994, and the folder rearranged into the present form.

An Inventory of the Rachel Davis DuBois Papers, 1920-1993
FHL staff
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Encoding made possible by a grant by the Gladys Kriebel Delmas Foundation to the Philadelphia Consortium of Special Collections Libraries

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