Skip to main content

Francoise W. Douwes Collected Papers

Identifier: SCPC-CDG-A-Douwes, Francoise Wilhelmina

Scope and Contents

This collection of papers is primarily about Douwes' activism with WILPF and other organizations.


  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1985-2005


Language of Material

Materials are in English.

Restrictions on 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

[by daughter Francine Whitney]

Francoise Wilhelmina (Willy) Everts Douwes died on August 24, 2014 in Canaan, Connecticut. Until June 2014, she had been a resident of Abington and Cheltenham townships.

Willy Douwes was born on July 6, 1923 in Jakarta, Java, then a part of the Dutch East Indies. Her future husband, Karel Douwes, was a childhood friend there. Following three years of Japanese occupation during World War II, the couple immigrated to Amsterdam, the Netherlands, in 1945 and where Karel studied medicine. They were married in 1950.

In 1958, the Douwes’ immigrated to the Philadelphia area (where Karel eventually became Head of the Department of Surgery at Episcopal Hospital, in the Kensington area of the city; he later worked at Merck, Sharp and Dohme in West Point, Pennsylvania). The Douwes first settled in Melrose Park, and later lived in Wyncote and Rydal. Willy Douwes was involved in the Cheltenham Art Center, the Philadelphia Art Museum, and the Netherlands-American Association of the Delaware Valley. A fluent speaker of five languages, she also worked as a part-time translator and tour guide for the Center for International Visitors for many years.

In the early 1980s, Willy Douwes became interested in political and environmental activism. For two decades she was an active member and a leader of the Philadelphia chapter of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). She was a regular, contributing letter writer to the editor of the Chestnut Hill Local. Following a serious car accident in 2004, Willy continued to campaign for peace from Stapeley Hall in Germantown, where she lived for two years.

Willy is survived by two daughters, Francine Whitney of New York and Caissa Douwes of Connecticut; she was predeceased by her husband (1991) and two brothers.


2.1 linear ft. (2.1 linear feet.)


Douwes was a member of the Philadelphia branch of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.

Other Finding Aids

For the catalog record for this collection, and to find materials on similar topics, search the library's online catalog.

Custodial History

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Francoise Wilhelmina Douwes, 2005 [Acc. 05A-026].

Legal Status

Copyright may have been transferred to the Swarthmore College Peace Collection or may have been retained by the creators/authors (or their descendants), in this collection, as stipulated by United States copyright law. Please contact the SCPC Curator for further information.

Processing Information

Processed by SCPC staff. This finding aid created by Katy Santa Maria and Wendy Chmielewski, July 2013; updated by Anne M. Yoder, Archivist, September 2014.

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

Revision Statements

  • 2017: The file list was standardized in Summer 2017 by Mary Olesnavich in preparation for importing into ArchivesSpace. Tessa Chambers 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

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