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Universal Peace Union Records

Identifier: SCPC-DG-038

Scope and Contents

The Records of the UPU consist of organizational correspondence, minutes, financial records, publications, and memorabilia. The diaries of president Alfred H. Love are also included in the collection.


  • 1846-1938
  • Majority of material found within 1867-1923
  • Majority of material found within 1938


Language of Materials

Materials are in English.

Limitations on Accessing the Collection

The collection is open for research use.


The most radical and important peace organization to rise from the the Civil War was the Universal Peace Union (UPU). This militant band grew out of reaction against compromising tactics which the American Peace Society adopted during the Civil War. The new movement was launched at Providence, Rhode Island in 1866. Taking leading parts were Joshua P. Blanshard, Adin Ballou, Henry C. Wright, Alfred H. Love, and Lucretia Mott.

The UPU labored to remove the causes of war, to discountenance all resorts to deadly force . . . "never acquiescing in present wrongs." They tolerated no compromise with the principles of love and nonviolence. Specifically they preached immediate disarmament and worked for a general treaty among nations, arbitration, and unconditional submission to an international tribunal.

The UPU denounced imperialism, compulsory military training, memorials and war demonstrations, war taxes, capital punishment, lynching of African Americans, the spread of white imperialism in Africa, the exclusion of Asian immigration and the continued denial of rights to native Americans. Because of their work Pennsylvania laws were relaxed towards conscientious objectors. The UPU was active in promoting the rights of women. Many women served equally with men on all executive committees and working committees. Women made up at least 50 per cent of the membership of UPU and they were active in the organization's agenda. Early in its career the UPU believed that peace might be obtained in industry through arbitration. In 1880 members helped settle a dispute between the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and the Reading Railroad management. Alfred Love, the president of the UPU, was the arbitrator in this action.

The UPU opposed the aggressive policy of the Grant administration toward Santo Domingo and Cuba. In 1896 they implored the Spanish government to grant autonomy to the Cubans, to withdraw troops and remove oppressive taxes. Alfred Love, the president, sent an ill-fated letter to the Queen Regent of Spain. The UPU worked equally hard to influence Washington. Though as war clouds gathered other peace organizations were undecided, or accepted war as inevitable, the UPU was determined to prevent war. The ill-fated letter was intercepted, and published in garbled form. It unleashed a storm of passion against the UPU, headquartered in Philadelphia. The office was thrown out of Independence Hall, precious mementos were ruthlessly scattered and Alfred Love was burned in effigy.

The UPU held its annual meetings at Mystic Grove, Connecticut for many years. At the first meetings only about sixty people were present. However, in the 1880s and the 1890s the number of attendees soared to close to 10,000.

In the course of time more than forty branch peace societies were affiliated with the UPU.

Officers and those associated with the UPU include: Hannah L. Bailey; Joshua P. Blanshard; Arabella Carter; Amanda Deyo; Mary Frost Ormsby Evans; Belva A. Lockwood; Alfred H. Love; Lucretia Mott; Lydia Schofield; and C.F. Stollmeyer.


12.5 Linear Feet (12.5 linear ft.)


The most colorful and important peace organization to rise from the the Civil War was the Universal Peace Union (UPU). This militant band grew out of reaction against compromising tactics which the American Peace Society adopted during the Civil War.


The Records of the UPU are arranged into three series. Series I. includes all organizational and administrative files. Series II contains the diaries of Alfred H. Love. Series III consists of materials about Mary Frost Ormsby Evans and materials about the UPU collected by her.

The microfilm of the UPU records consists of eighteen reels of film. The first six contain the various periodicals of the UPU, published 1867-1913. Correspondence and organizational records may be found on Reels 7 through 11. Reels 11-18 contain the diaries UPU president Alfred H. Love. Reel 19 contains other material collected by Love and some material by and about Mary Frost Ormsby Evans. The memorabilia collected by Evans was not filmed.

Physical Location

All or part of this collection is stored off-site. Contact Swarthmore College Peace Collection staff at least two weeks in advance of visit to request boxes.

Custodial History

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of the Universal Peace Union Received: 1920, 1940s-1950s, 1980s

Existence and Location of Copies

Yes, microfilm Reels 13.1-13.19.

Separated Materials

Photographs of UPU members and officers may be found in the SCPC Photograph Collection. Flags and banners Ribbons and conference delegate ribbons Important information about UPU activities may be found in the periodicals published by the UPU between 1867 and 1913. These periodicals have been microfilmed. The originals may be found in the SCPC Periodicals Collection.

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

This collection was processed by SCPC staff, and this finding aid was created by Eleanor Fulvio in August, 2010.



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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 Swarthmore College Peace Collection Library

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