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Peace Pilgrim Papers

Identifier: SCPC-DG-104

Scope and Contents

The bulk of Peace Pilgrim's papers are newsclippings (1953-1986) which describe her travels during her seven pilgrimages across the United States and Canada. Correspondence includes her brief letters to friends describing her travels, and an exchange of letters between her and a friend Eugene Maurey. Her writings include a pamphlet "Steps Toward Inner Peace" and her newsletter Peace Pilgrim's Progress (1953-c.1979) in which she discussed both her philosophy of peace and her journeys. There are also poems and songs by her. Her answers to 1224 questions provide insights into her beliefs and resolution of problems.

There are numerous church bulletins from services in which she participated. A book Peace Pilgrim, Her Life and Work in Her Own Words was published by friends after her death and is available in the SCPC library. There are also articles about her and memorial eulogies.

Two scrapbooks document Peace Pilgrim's fourth and fifth pilgrimages (1965-1968 and 1969-1972) with newsclippings, releases, programs, and correspondence. SCPC has a tunic worn by Peace Pilgrim as well as her walking shoes and other memorabilia. There are several cassettes, some from speeches by her and others made after her death, and many photographs. Correspondents include Eugene Maurey and Richard L. Polese.

In 2006 Russian translations by George Dolnikowski, of some of Peace Pilgrim's writings were added to the collection.


  • Creation: 1908-1986


Language of Materials

Materials are in English.

Limitations on Accessing the Collection


Copyright and Rights Information



Peace Pilgrim was born Mildred Lisette Norman on July 18, 1908, in Egg Harbor City, New Jersey, the eldest of three children.

Little is known about her life before she left Pasadena, California, in January 1953 on her first peace pilgrimage, except that she had been married to Stanley Ryder, divorced, and a business woman. She took then what became her lifelong vow: "I am a pilgrim, a wanderer. I shall remain a wanderer until mankind has learned the way of peace, walking until I am given shelter and fasting until I am given food".

Wearing her characteristic navy blue slacks and shirt with a tunic saying "Peace Pilgrim" on the front and "25,000 Miles on Foot for Peace" on the back, she walked the highways of North America, accepting only food and shelter and speaking in churches or to groups whenever invited. Peace Pilgrim, as she was always called, declining to divulge her earlier name or life, talked about peace between nations, among groups, but, most important, inner peace.

Her peace message was to overcome evil with good, falsehood with truth, and hatred with love. Her small pamphlet "Steps Toward Inner Peace" outlined her preparations for this peace, including simplification of life and purification of the body, bringing the inner and outer well-being into harmony.

By l964, she had walked 25,000 miles and she stopped keeping count and was willing to accept rides more often, using the time saved to speak to more people. She made seven pilgrimages, crossing the United States and Canada with shorter trips to Mexico as well. She was killed in an automobile accident on July 7, 1981, at the age of 71, in Knox, Indiana.

On the back of the book, Peace Pilgrim, Her Life and Work in Her Own Words, published after her death by friends, is the following description of Peace Pilgrim: "Penniless and homeless, and walking with no organizational backing whatsoever, Peace Pilgrim touched the lives and hearts of countless thousands of Americans. Some were charmed by her simple but cheerful presence; many others were profoundly inspired by her message and her lifestyle. She literally lived her beliefs."


3.75 Linear Feet (9 Boxes)


Peace Pilgrim was born Mildred Lisette Norman in 1908. Between 1953 and l964, she had walked 25,000 miles across the U.S. for peace. Peace Pilgrim eventually made seven pilgrimages, crossing North America. She was killed in an automobile accident on July 7, 1981, at the age of 71.


All of the material in Peace Pilgrim's papers is in chronological order. Newspaper clippings, except for those in the two scrapbooks, have been either mounted or photocopied. Almost all programs, releases, and newsclippings during the years 1965 to 1972 are found in the two scrapbooks in Series IV. Series VIII contains the typed and handwritten Russian translations of Peace Pilgrim's writings by George Dolnikowski.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Peace Pilgrim, Eugene Maurey, Richard L. Polese, Elaine Sommers Rich, Ann Rush, George Dolnikowski, 1976, 198l, 1982, 1983, 2001.

Related Materials

Accessions: 1976 [Acc. 76A-111],; [Acc. 76A-117]; 1981 [Acc. 81A-11], [Acc. 81A-042], [Acc. 81A-052], [Acc. 81A-078], [Acc.81A-085], [Acc. 81A-086], [Acc. 81A-087], [Acc. 81A-089], [Acc. 81A-l08], [Acc. 81A-l09], [Acc. 81A-110], [Acc.81A-123]; [Acc. 82A-002], [Acc. 82A-038], [Acc. 82A-046], [Acc. 82A-077], [Acc. 82A-136]; [Acc. 83A-075, [Acc. 83A-114], [Acc. 01A-050, [Acc. 06A-020]

Separated Materials

  1. Audiovisual material
  2. Scrapbooks
  3. Photographs
  4. Memorabilia -clothing-tunic, shoes, comb

Bibliographic References

Guide to the Swarthmore College Peace Collection, 2nd ed., p. 53.

Bibliographic References

Guide to Sources on Women in the Swarthmore College Peace Collection, p. 19.

Legal Status

Copyright to the Peace Pilgrim Papers created by Peace Pilgrim 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

These records were first processed under a grant from the Ford Foundation. This checklist was prepared by Martha P. Shane in September, 1986, with additions in 2001 and 2006, by Wendy E. Chmielewski. This finding aid was prepared by Chloe Lucchesi- Malone in August, 2009.



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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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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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