Skip to main content

Lee Stern Papers

Identifier: SCPC-DG-170

Scope and Contents

This collection provides information on some, though certainly not all, of Stern's interests and involvements, particularly of his fast for peace in Vietnam in 1965.


  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1936-1992


Language of Materials

Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access


Conditions Governing Use



Lee Donald Stern, born in 1915 at Cleveland, Ohio, was a Quaker pacifist. While studying at Case Institute of Techology, he joined the Ahimsa Farm Nonviolence Training Center near Cleveland [some sources say he was a founder in 1940 of Ahimsa Farm], which promoted pacifism and racial integration. Stern was a conscientious objector during World War II. He refused to report to Civilian Public Service as ordered, and was imprisoned as a result, in Milan (Michigan) from December 1942 through January 1946. While in prison, he refused to follow rules on racial segregation and sat with black prisoners during meals. His actions, along with those of other conscientious objectors eventually led to integration in the federal prison system.

Stern was with the Bruderhof in Paraguay in 1948-1950, then with Pendle Hill in Pennsylvania in 1951-1956, and the Winterbrook Community in Ontario (Canada) in 1956?-1957. He worked for the Fellowship of Reconciliation in Nyack (New York) as an administrative assistant in 1958?-1968, where he led, circa 1960, a successful campaign against fall-out shelters in that city (he was also jailed for refusing to take cover during an air raid drill). In 1962 he was jailed for participating in integration in Baltimore (Maryland). Stern was a prominent member of New York Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), serving as administrator of its Peace and Social Action Program from 1968 to 1980, and as.its Peace Secretary in 1980-1981.

Stern was active in protesting the Vietnam War. He undertook an 84-day fast in 1965 to protest the U.S bombings in Vietnam. Stern participated in a 1967 Easter Sunday pilgrimage to Canada to deliver medical supplies destined for both North and South Vietnam. His interest in nonviolence led him to participate in many peace groups and actions, including the Quaker Projectd on Community Conflict, through which he trained hundreds in peacekeeping and conflict resolution skills. Stern was one of the originators of the Children's Creative Response to Conflict and a founder of Alternatives to Violence and of Peace Brigades International in 1981. From 1989 he taught alternatives to violence in Maryland prisons.

Stern was married to Ruth Hoeniger; the couple had two children. Stern died of cancer in 1992 in Sandy Spring, Maryland.


2 linear ft. (2 linear feet.)


Lee Stern (1915-1992), was a Quaker pacifist, conscientious objector to war, involved in peace groups and organizations, and a teacher of nonviolence.

Custodial History

The Swarthmore College Peace Collection is the official repository for these papers.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Fellowship of Reconciliation, 1988 [Acc. 88A-017]; Ruth Stern, 1993 [Acc. 93A-069]; 1996 [Acc. 96A-041]; 2002 [Acc. 02A-013]; Christopher Stern, 1996 [Acc. 96A-002]

Related Materials

For related materials, search the library's online catalog

Legal Status

Copyright has been transferred to the Swarthmore College Peace Collection.

Processing Information

Collection processed and finding aid written by Anne M. Yoder, Archivist, May 2014.

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

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

500 College Avenue
Swarthmore 19081-1399 USA US
610-328-8544 (Fax)