Centenary Campaign 1923/4 – 2023/4
Over 2023-24, WCIA and Academi Heddwch – alongside Women’s Archive Wales, the Smithsonian Institute, Heddwch Nain Mamgu, the National Library and National Museums of Wales, the Senedd and Welsh Government, Universities and other prospective partners – join ‘peace forces’ for a campaign marking the centenary of Wales’ remarkable Women’s Peace Appeal of 1923-24, organised through WCIA’s predecessor the Welsh League of Nations Union (WLNU). This homepage, launched for International Women’s Day 2020 and updated for 2023, draws together the work of volunteers, heritage researchers and community partners Wales-wide since 2014; and is updated as new materials come to light. Users can find links to most digitised materials via the navigation boxes down this page.
The Story behind the Women’s Appeal
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, through the WLNU, 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. A beautiful gilded Moroccan leather and vellum Memorial Binding was illuminated by Cecily West and produced through the Cardiff School of Arts & Crafts, for presentation to the US President; and a great oak chest carved by E J Hallam to contain the signature sheets presented to the women of America, to be held ‘for all time’ 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 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, discovered and digitised by WCIA and the National Library in 2019, offering an incredible insight into the Peace Tour and the time – an invaluable history and learning resource. The 9 American Women’s networks whom the Welsh delegation worked with, joined forces to form the ‘Conference on the Cause and Cure of War‘ as a response to Wales’ visit – which became influential in American society through to the outbreak of WW2.
Annie Hughes Griffiths kept a diary of their tour of America, which has provided a fantastic basis for uncovering the story of the Peace Campaign. Yet Annie is just one of 390,296 women with a story to tell over the centenary!
3 Short films (click on images to view): The Women’s Peace Petition (Trailer); Alaw Primary School learning project; ‘Annie’s Diary’ feature on Volunteers uncovering the story of the 1924 American Peace Tour.
By Tracy Pallant and Amy Peckham, Valley & Vale Community Arts
The Petition binding is one of the most treasured items in the Temple of Peace Collections – albeit, itself rediscovered in 2014 – along with supporting materials from WLNU women’s campaigns. WCIA look forward to working with others to mark the centenary in 2023-24 of this remarkable campaign, through the centenary programme coordinated by Academi Heddwch which launching in May 2023.
Can you support? Get involved by emailing email@example.com.
Download and print the booklet, and explore the digitised materials and projects inspired by this remarkable campaign via the links below.