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Mercedes M. Randall Papers

Identifier: SCPC-DG-110

Scope and Contents

The papers of Mercedes M. Randall include her research on Emily Greene Balch whose biography she wrote in 1964 as well as the book Beyond Nationalism: The Social Thought of Emily Greene Balch which she edited in 1972. Both books are in the SCPC library. There are pamphlets, articles, reports, and mailings that Randall wrote for Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, including the pamphlets "The Voice of Thy Brother's Blood" (1944) and "Highlights of Women's International League for Peace and Freedom History, 1915- 1946". Other writings include letters to the editor and the indexes of several Women's International League for Peace and Freedom periodicals.

There is correspondence with prominent peace leaders, some of whom were Women's International League for Peace and Freedom colleagues. There is also correspondence pertaining to projects in which she was involved. This includes the responses to a letter Randall sent in 1940 to representative Americans asking them to formulate "the conditions of a lasting peace," and the responses, in 1972, to a letter to pacifists of her acquaintance on "What I Believe." There is also correspondence pertaining to Balch's Nobel Peace Prize (1946). One item of correspondence is restricted at this time.

Her subject files contain articles, notes, correspondence, and other material about peace- related topics. They include two scrapbooks on World War I, information about the Young Democracy, and a large collection of pamphlets and booklets on the Jewish refugees during World War II.

Personal calendars for the years 1973 to 1976 and her obituary can also be found.

Correspondents include Emily Greene Balch, Marion Balch, Helen Beardsley, Gertrude Bussey, Sarah Cleghorn, Dorothy Detzer, Dorothy Hutchinson, A.J. Muste, Clara Ragaz, Ella White, and Frances Witherspoon.


  • Creation: 1914-1977


Language of Materials

Materials are in English.

Language of Materials

Correspondence with family, 1923-1926 is in German.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research use.

Physical Access Note

All or part of this collection is stored off-site. Contact Swarthmore College Peace Collection staff at at least two weeks in advance of visit to request boxes.

Conditions Governing Use


Biographical Note

Mercedes Moritz Randall, writer and peace worker, was born September 11, 1895, in Guatemala City where her father Albert Moritz was an American merchant. She received her B.A. from Barnard College in 1916 and a master's degree in history from Columbia University. She taught both English and history in New York City between 1916 and 1923. She married John Herman Randall, Jr., a professor of philosophy at Columbia, in 1922, and the couple had two sons, John Herman Randall, III, and Francis Ballard Randall, both of whom became professors. The Randalls lived at 15 Claremont Avenue in Morningside Heights, New York City, and summered in an old farmhouse in Peacham, Vermont. Mercedes Randall died on March 9, 1977, at the age of 81.

Already involved with pacifist and social concerns during World War I, Randall became a member of the Young Democracy. Colleagues in this group included Devere Allen, Frances Witherspoon and Tracy Mygatt, and these friendships endured throughout their lives. She was one of the early members of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, holding many executive offices including chairman of the National Education Committee. She was president of the Manhattan branch of Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.

Randall first met Emily Greene Balch in 1918 at a dinner in New York City sponsored by the Collegiate Anti- Militarism League. Balch was the first International Secretary of Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and the two women worked closely together on many WILPF projects. Miss Balch asked Randall to be her literary executor, and, in 1964, Randall wrote a biography of Balch entitled Improper Bostonian: Emily Greene Balch. Later, in 1972, she edited Beyond Nationalism: The Social Thought of Emily Greene Balch. Randall led the campaign that resulted in Balch receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1946.

Randall wrote much Women's International League for Peace and Freedom material including pamphlets, reports, articles, and mailings. In 1944, she wrote a pamphlet "The Voice of Thy Brother's Blood", a plea for action to help the Jewish refugees of World War II. This was distributed by both Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and the American Jewish Committee. She and Balch together wrote the pamphlet "Highlights of Women's International League for Peace and Freedom History, 1915-1946". Other writings included the appendix to the 1945 edition of Peace and Bread by Jane Addams and the introductions to Women at the Hague by Jane Addams and Occupied Haiti by Balch. She also compiled indexes for several Women's International League for Peace and Freedom periodicals.

Her publisher, Twayne, described Randall as having "devoted herself to problems of international and interracial peace and justice." After her death in 1977, the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom periodical Peace and Freedom (April- May 1977) wrote: "Mrs. Randall believed strongly that the peace movement was historically important and that similar studies should be made of some of the other pioneer women and their early followers who showed clearly the connection between pacifism and freedom and feminism and economic change all over the world. She kept track of all such books that appeared and urged the peace leaders to write before they died so that others could have the record."

An online remembrance by one of Mercedes Randall's sons (Francis B. Randall?), is available at: />.


4 linear ft. (10 boxes)


Mercedes M. Randall was an early, and lifelong, member of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. She held many positions of responsibility in the organization, including chairmanship of the National Education Committee, and presidency of the Manhattan Branch. Randall was the first biographer of Nobel Peace Prize winner, Emily Greene Balch.


The bulk of these papers was given to SCPC in 1977 by Francis B. Randall following the death of his mother Mercedes M. Randall earlier that year. Because of Mercedes Randall's research on Emily Greene Balch for two books, there was much Balch material in these papers that was sorted out and moved to DG 006 (Balch papers). The remaining papers were well organized by Randall. Her system was to use large mailing envelopes as folders with pertinent notes on the front to identify the contents. During the processing, the writing portion of these envelopes was removed and placed with its contents in new folders. These folders were then arranged together depending on the predominant kind of material inside, i.e.correspondence with an individual, related to a project,etc. There are often many kinds of material together in one folder, as Randall had collected it. The folder listings in the checklist, except in the subject files,are usually not Randall's words, but are meant to be more descriptive.

Folders simply labeled "Writing" in Series III contain single items together by decade. Series III is arranged in chronological order.

There are two subject files. The first, called the Original Order Subject File, has been left intact in alphabetical order as Randall had kept it. The second, called the Imposed Order Subject File, is a collection of folders about various topics that were found in different parts of the papers, placed together, and arranged chronologically.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Mercedes M. Randall, Anne Ivey, Ruth Detzer, 1968- 1981 [Acc. 68A- 052]; 1970 [Acc. 70A-037] 1972 [Acc. 72A-145] 1975 [Acc.75A- 008, Acc. 75A-009, Acc. 75A-058, Acc. 75A-078]; 1976 [Acc.76A- 056, Acc. 76A-080, Acc. 76A-085]; 1977 [Acc.77A-074, Acc.77A-097, Acc.77A-098]; 1981 [Acc.81A-021]; 2005

Separated Materials

Digital copy of document containing transcriptions and translations of correspondence with German family members, 1924-1926

Digital documents in PDF and Word format, stored on Datacluster server, as of 12/2019

Bibliographic References

Guide to the Swarthmore College Peace Collection, 2nd ed., p. 61.

Bibliographic References

Guide to Sources on Women in the Swarthmore College Peace Collection, p. 22.

Legal Status

Copyright to the resources created by Mercedes M. Randall has been transferred to the Swarthmore College Peace Collection. Copyright to all other materials is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Processing Information

This checklist was prepared by Martha P. Shane in March, 1985; this finding aid was prepared by Chloe Lucchesi- Malone in August, 2009.

Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2018: The file list was standardized in Summer 2017 by Mary Olesnavich in preparation for importing into ArchivesSpace. Elisabeth Miller added the notes in Fall 2017.

Find It at the Library

Most of the materials in this catalog are not digitized and can only be accessed in person. Please see our website for more information about visiting or requesting repoductions from Swarthmore College Peace Collection Library

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