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Emily Greene Balch

Emily Greene Balch: The Long Road to Internationalism

Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 232
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    Emily Greene Balch
    Book Description:

    A well-known American academic and cofounder of Boston's first settlement house, Emily Greene Balch was an important Progressive Era reformer and advocate for world peace. Balch served as a professor of economics and sociology at Wellesley College for twenty years until her opposition to World War I resulted with the board of trustees refusing to renew her contract. Afterwards, Balch continued to emphasize the importance of international institutions for preventing and reconciling conflicts. She was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 1946 for her efforts in cofounding and leading the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)._x000B__x000B_In tracing Balch's work at Wellesley, for the WILPF, and for other peace movements, Kristen E. Gwinn draws on a rich collection of primary sources such as letters, lectures, a draft of Balch's autobiography, and proceedings of the WILPF and other organizations in which Balch held leadership roles. Gwinn illuminates Balch's ideas on negotiated peace, internationalism, global citizenship, and diversity while providing pointed insight into her multifaceted career, philosophy, and temperament. Detailing Balch's academic research on Slavic immigration and her arguments for greater cultural and monetary cohesion in Europe, Gwinn shows how Balch's scholarship and teaching reflected her philosophical development._x000B__x000B_This first scholarly biography of Balch helps contextualize her activism while taking into consideration changes in American attitudes toward war and female intellectuals in the early twentieth century.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09015-8
    Subjects: Sociology, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Introduction: “A Citizen of the World”
    (pp. 1-4)

    It is not surprising that few people know the name Emily Greene Balch. The stories of countless individuals from the past flit across our history pages, but very few wend their way into the public consciousness. We tend to uphold and preserve the memories of those who pursued grand achievements, those who became leaders of nations or groups, and those who invented revolutionary technologies. It is these individuals who, in one way or another, wield great influence over the masses and capture our attention.

    In many ways, Emily Greene Balch was an ordinary citizen. She never ran for or held...

  6. 1. “The Service of Goodness,” 1867–85
    (pp. 5-16)

    An ordinary winter evening. A new suburban town on the edge of Boston. A solidly upper-middle-class family, having recently survived the personal and political challenges of the Civil War.¹ Two people deeply in love, and deeply committed to their family, their town, and their church.

    This environment surrounded the birth of Emily Greene Balch. At 7:00 PM on January 8, 1867, a child who, seventy-nine years later, would receive the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of her life of service, came into this world. The second daughter of Francis and Nelly Balch, the child was christened after her mother’s dear...

  7. 2. “Characteristic of My Generation,” 1885–96
    (pp. 17-48)

    In eighteen years Emily Greene Balch had grown into an intelligent woman with a passion for books and a dedication to learning. Yet she still lacked a direction for her life. Her journey through Europe had allowed her a respite from her grief, as well as time to consider her future. It was a time that demanded decisions. With her secondary schooling coming to a close, Balch undoubtedly felt the pressure to choose a path in life. She later insinuated that circumstances, rather than choice, directed her decision making during this period. By her own admission she was a “proud,...

  8. 3. “Twenty Happy and Busy Years,” 1896–1914
    (pp. 49-75)

    Coman’s offer to teach at Wellesley presented Balch with the daunting decision of whether to continue her formal education or undertake a new career path. In trying to decide, Balch focused mainly on how taking the teaching position at Wellesley College would affect her father. If she accepted the offer, she could live at or near home and assist her sisters in caring for their aging father; as well, by accepting the offer she would reduce her financial dependence on him. On the other hand, she still felt driven to continue her education. By opting to undertake a PhD in...

  9. 4. “Tragic Interruption,” 1914–18
    (pp. 76-107)

    When war broke out in Europe in the summer of 1914, American Progressives overwhelmingly responded with shock and dismay. Many were horrified by actions that seemed a reversal of the great social progress of the time. After nearly a century of peace (or at least an absence of war on a large scale among the major nations of Europe), a return to widespread warfare disturbed many. Jane Addams described the American response to the war in Europe as an “almost instantaneous” feeling throughout the country of “astonishment that such an archaic institution should be revived in modern Europe.¹ While Americans,...

  10. 5. “A Basis for a New Human Civilisation,” 1918–29
    (pp. 108-141)

    In early 1918, Emily Greene Balch elected to return to college teaching, being only one year shy of eligibility to receive her pension. Having taken two years off to work with the American peace movement, she could not afford—professionally or financially—to stay away longer. When she arrived at Wellesley College, however, she met an unexpected challenge.

    When Balch had requested a leave of absence the previous autumn, she had done so with the support of Wellesley College’s president, Ellen Pendleton. The two women had agreed that Balch’s extended absence would be good for both her and the college,...

  11. 6. “The World Chose Disaster,” 1930–41
    (pp. 142-163)

    The 1930s were a frightening decade for many involved with the international peace movement. Emily Greene Balch and her fellow WILPF members became increasingly alarmed as each year brought more episodes of violent struggle and the growth of right-wing dictatorships. They endeavored to direct international attention toward the greatest threats to peace; Balch named those threats specifically as Italy, Germany, and Japan, all of which maintained “a nationalist-militarist point of view.” Spain joined the list of nations to be carefully watched when a civil war there broke out in 1936. In addition to these “obvious danger spots,” Balch considered any...

  12. 7. “The Things I Leave Undone,” 1942–61
    (pp. 164-173)

    The United States entered the Second World War in December 1941, following the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. Balch later pointed to this as the moment that began her “long and painful mental struggle” over which she “never felt that she had reached a clear and consistent conclusion.” Unable to reconcile her pacifist outlook with the horrors unfolding before her, she asked how to achieve a balance “when in your own mind an irresistible force has collided with an immovable obstacle?” For Balch, the war years allowed her to refine her opinions on absolute pacifism, that is, the total opposition...

  13. Conclusion: “If We Have a Long Road Ahead of Us, We Have Also Come a Long Way”
    (pp. 174-178)

    After Balch’s death, her community in Boston and the peace network throughout the world recognized the loss of a leader, the woman Jane Addams had once referred to as the “‘goodest person’ she had ever known.” Balch’s family and fellow WILPF members endeavored to continue her legacy as a good, kind, and simple woman. Her friend and WILPF colleague Hannah Hull related a favorite Balch story about one cold Boston day just before Thanksgiving, when Balch stepped outdoors after having stopped to warm herself with a cup of hot chocolate at a local drugstore. As she left the store, she...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 179-202)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 203-210)
  16. Index
    (pp. 211-218)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 219-220)