Remember: the History of the Women’s Peace Petition

Through the 1920s-30s, the Women’s Committee of the Welsh League of Nations Union (WLNU) led some ‘world-inspiring’ campaigns on Peace. The horrors of World War 1 having galvanised a generation against conflict, in 1923 women of Wales organised an unprecedented appeal. 390,296 women signed a Memorial petition appealing to the women of America ‘from home to home’ and ‘hearth to hearth’, to join them in a call for ‘LAW NOT WAR’: for the United States to join and lead the new League of Nations. The campaign mobilised organisers in every community across Wales, with women leafleting door-to-door and returning for the completed signature sheets. Behind every signatory, lay stories of loss, love and resolve to prevent war befalling fuure generations.

Short film (2.48) about the story of the Women’s Peace petition (by Welsh Government)

A beautiful gilded Moroccan leather Memorial was illuminated by Cecily West and produced through Cardiff’s School of Arts & Crafts for presentation to the women of America; and a great oak chest carved by E J Hallam to contain the signature sheets on their Trans-Atlantic voyage – to be bequeathed to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington. The New York press noted that the final petition presented to the women of America was over 7 miles long.

The Women’s Peace campaign of 1923 was a truly remarkable Wales-wide effort involving almost every household, through peace activists going door-to-door, supported through county and community organisers of ‘the League’. A delegation, led by WLNU Chair Annie Hughes Griffiths, travelled from Wales to America in Feb-March 1924 for a 2 month ‘Peace Tour’ of the States, building support through American women’s organisations involving over 60 million people. 

Annie kept a diary of their travels, recently rediscovered, which offers an incredible insight into the people they met over their ‘Peace Tour’ across 1920s America. Over Feb-March 2024, we will be marking the centenary of this tour through AnniesDiary100, following their itinerary #OnThisDay on social media.

The nine American Women’s networks with whom the Welsh delegation worked, joined forces to form the ‘Conference on the Cause and Cure of War‘ following the Welsh peace campaign – and despite America’s interwar isolationism, they went on to build support for intternaionalism that ultimately bore fruit in America’s post-WW2 leadership of the United Nations.