Directions: The central first floor corridors, from the top of both stairwells, lead to the Council Chamber door (the ‘halfway’ point of the Peacemakers Timeline display). The Women’s Peace Petition is to the left hand side of the room, in the centre of the cases.
The Welsh Women’s Peace Petition to America is one of the most inspiring ‘hidden histories’ to have emerged through the HLF-funded ‘Wales for Peace’ programme over the WW100 centenary period 2014-19. 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.
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 Academi Heddwch and others to mark the centenary in 2023-24 of this remarkable campaign.