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Abraham Kaufman Collected Papers

Identifier: SCPC-CDG-A-Kaufman, Abraham

Scope and Contents

Correspondence, 1940-1979; biographical information about Abraham and Ida Kaufman; manuscripts of books; outline, correspondence and notes for proposed book on War Resisters League (not completed); papers regarding Kaufman's work as trustee/executor for the estate of Frieda Lazarus, 1969-1976; reference material, photograph. Correspondents include: Jervis Anderson, Bent Andresen, Scott Bennett, Lewis Christian Bohn, Frances Early, Larry Gara, Jessie Wallace Hughan, Wilma Smith Leland, Samuel Schoenberg, Michael D. Young.


  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1942-1997


Language of Materials

Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access


Conditions Governing Use


Biographical note

[most of this information is from "Radical Pacifism" by Scott H. Bennett, 2003, p. 25-27]

Abraham Kaufman was born on December 5, 1908. His father, like many Jews, had fled Russian oppression in 1905 or 1906, emigrating to America and settling in the Jewish immigrant community in South Bronx (New York City). Abe grew up hearing debates on socialism in his father's dry goods store. By the time he was ten or twelve, Kaufman was attending socialist street-corner meetings and open air debates. He joined the Young People's Socialist League in 1924, where two years later he met his wife, Ida Yavner. Kaufman considered himself a secular Jew, as well as an atheist and a humanist, joining the Unitarian Bronx Free Fellowship (in 1926) and the Brooklyn Ethical Culture Society (in the 1930s). He met Jessie Wallace Hughan in 1922, who was teaching his tenth-grade English class at the Textile High School. Their joint interest in socialism, and eventually pacifism, led to a thirty-year friendship. On his 18th birthday, Kaufman signed the War Resisters League Declaration and joined the WRL, which had been founded in part by Hughan. In October 1928, Kaufman became the first paid employee of the WRL, earning $10 a week, contributed by Jessie Hughan and her sister (this position eventually resulted in his becoming Executive Secretary). Also in 1928 Kaufman served as treasurer of the United States Committee of Youth Against War and Fascism.

During the 1930s and 1940s, Kaufman assumed several administrative positions in the peace movement. He was Secretary of the United Pacifist Committee and the Joint Peace Board (later renamed the Peace Strategy Board). He resigned from the WRL in 1947. In response to the 1940 draft, Kaufman co-founded the Metropolitan Board for Conscientious Objectors, which provided free, non-sectarian counseling, and sometimes legal aid, to conscientious objectors (COs) in the New York region. Kaufman was affiliated with the Metropolitan Board for Conscientious Objectors for many years. He continued his efforts on behalf of COs after he and his wife moved to Port Charlotte (Florida), where he was involved with the Draft Counseling Service in the 1980s (and 1970s?). In their later years, Abe and Ida took part in local peace activities, joining the Charlotte Citizens for Peace and helping to organize events for the Fellowship of Reconciliation in their area of Florida.

Kaufman hoped to write a history of Jessie Wallace Hughan, and possibly of the WRL as well, but had to eventually admit that it was beyond him. Instead, he shared his knowledge with writers and historians, such as Frances Early and Scott Bennett, who found his notes, correspondence and conversations to be valuable source material.

Abraham Kaufman died in September 2004.


1.6 linear ft. (1.6 linear ft.)


In October 1928, Kaufman became the first paid employee of the War Resisters League, eventually becoming its Executive Secretary through 1947. He co-founded the Metropolitan Board for Conscientious Objectors.


This material in this collection is arranged as follows: biographical information; efforts re: Frieda Lazarus and her estate; correspondence, 1940s-1990s; involvements; writings; efforts re: history of the WRL and Jessie Wallace Hughan; and, reference material.

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 this collection of papers.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Abraham Kaufman [acc. 01A-010] and Raquel Kaufman Woods (daughter) [acc. 08A-003].

Separated Materials

Photographs of Abe Kaufman and of the WRL Board Meeting in 1939, etc., were removed to the Photograph Collection [see also War Resisters League (DG 040) photos]. Meeting minutes and other material related to the Metropolitan Board for Conscientious Objectors, as well as the Charlotte Citizens for Peace, were removed to their respective archival collections.

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

Processed by, and checklist prepared by, Anne M. Yoder, Archivist, March 2007; added to March 2008.

Processing Information

It was originally expected that there would be a fairly large collection of papers given to the SCPC by Abe Kaufman to document his life, but this did not materialize. The original designation of DG 205 for the papers was changed to CDG-A status in March 2007.

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

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