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Prisoner Visitation and Support Records

Identifier: SCPC-DG-223

Scope and Contents

This collection was partially processed by the archivist in 2006. The material came in looking like it was in good order, but it was discovered that the folder titles rarely matched what was in the folders themselves. This necessitated sorting nearly everything into new folders. Some prisoner correspondence was already designated as such before its arrival at the SCPC, but a great deal was also found mixed throughout the rest of the collection. This was removed and put with the rest of the correspondence to/from/about prisoners. It should be noted that these files include prisoners in state and local prisons, though the PVS dealt primarily with people in federal prisons.

The 2006 accessions are almost entirely from the files of Robert (Bob) and Kay Horton. Because the PVS expects to send more of its files to the SCPC, some of which may be incorporated into the current holdings, no final labeling of the folders has been done.

Two 1994 videorecordings were removed to the Audiovisual Collection: "PVS, Reaching Behind Prison Bars" (videorecording 0375 (VHS) and 0618 (DVD), and "Prisoner Visitation and Support Presents: Fay Honey Knopp Speaks About Prison and PVS" (videorecording [DVD] ___).

See also the records of the Center on Conscience and War (DG 025) for its NISBCO files on PVS in box 1080 (25th annivesary, 1988; board meetings, 1976-1986) and box 1081 (varied material, 1970s; correspondence, 1974).


  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1952-1991


Language of Materials

Materials are in English.

Limitations on Accessing the Collection

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.

Copyright and Rights Information


Historical Note

Prisoner Visitation Service was founded in April 1968 to serve the increasing numbers of GIs who were resisting the Vietnam War and were being sent to brigs and stockades for their acts of conscience. The founding group included Rev. Robert Horton, a retired Methodist minister with years of prison visitation experience, as well as representatives from the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors, the American Friends Service Committee, the National Interreligious Service Board for Conscientious Objectors, and the War Resisters League. Later at least thirteen additional groups, including eight major denominational organizations, joined in sponsoring PVS's activities. Over the years, PVS staff and volunteers visited or wrote to thousands of men and women in military and civilian stockades and prisons. To reflect a growing outreach to prisoners who were not necessarily military objectors, the name of the organization was changed to Prisoner Visitation and Support in 1971. New emphases included coordination with other prison groups, raising awareness about prisons, training prison visitors, providing contact for prisoners with their families and others, and producing literature about PVS's efforts and interests. A 1974 Statement of Purpose states: "Our program is built on love and respect for the prisoners, affirming their basic humanity, as well as relating to prison administrators and staff in the same spirit. Our conscious orientation is a belief in, and commitment to, the power and centrality of non-violence."


24 Linear Feet (24 linear ft.)


  1. General
  2. Reports/Literature
  3. Efforts/Involvements
  4. Trips/Events
  5. Finances/Fundraising
  6. Correspondence
  7. Brown / Corson / Knopp
  8. Hortons: Personal Correspondence
  9. Prisoner Visitation and Support Correspondence
  10. Book re: Conscientious Objectors and Other War Resisters
  11. Visitation of Military Prisoners
  12. Support Efforts for Prisoners (Organized by Prison)
  13. Prison Visitation: General
  14. Records of Prison Visits
  15. Eric Corson: Correspondence re: Prison Visitor Recruitments, approximately 1979-1986
  16. Prison Visitors
  17. Prisoner Correspondence
  18. Re-File Box: Miscellaneous material received

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated 2006 [accs. 06A-025, 06A-029], 2014 [acc. 2014-078], 2016 [acc. 2016-097], 2017 [acc. 2017-086], 2018 [acc. 2018-061]

Related Materials

Beginning in 2001 the Wayback Machine of the Internet Archive (IA) cached Prisoner Visitation and Support's web site. The links provided here are for the convenience of researchers interested in the history of the national Peace Action's web presence. The Swarthmore College Peace Collection has no control over the web sites or how they are saved by the Internet Archive.*/*/

  1. Center on Conscience and War Records (DG 025), Box 1080

Related Materials

For related materials, search the library's online catalog

Legal Status

Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendents, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Processing Information

Collection processed and checklist prepared by Anne M. Yoder in June 2006 and June 2015.

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 Min Cheng 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 reproductions from Swarthmore College Peace Collection Library

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