In the 1920s, young pacifists’ urgent desire to demonstrate their commitment gave rise to AFSC’s “Peace Caravans.” Small teams of men or women received training in peace education and spent their summer traveling from town to town—speaking at churches and community gatherings, canvassing door to door, and doing radio and newspaper publicity. Although the caravans ceased during WW II, they restarted in 1955 and lasted into the 1960s, when views among Quakers about offering separate programs for youth began to change.

AFSC caravans had a lasting impact beyond traditional peace education: 

  • For many participants, the international and interracial caravans marked their first experience with  people of another race as peers and partners.
  • Teams raised public awareness that economic and racial justice are important components of peace building.
  • Young man in front of car with disarmament sign.
    This early two-man caravan is typical of AFSC’s pre-WWII community peace educators.
  • Three women in front of car.
    A young woman wrote in the 1940s: “My association with Negroes … has given me a real live understanding of the intellectual idea of equality, an understanding which I hope to be able to carry back to my friends.”
  • Men and women lined up in front of 1930s cars.
    Men and women trained together but campaigned in separate teams.
  • Long line of 1930s cars in front of ivy-covered buildings.
    In 1930, Haverford College in Pennsylvania provided an idyllic setting for training young pacifists to educate the broader public.
  • Men hold signs promoting a peace drama.
    Signs like these attracted audiences to lectures and “peace dramas” promoting anti-militarism.
  • Car with signs against military spending.
    Even in 1934, the unseen cost of war (here, “$35 million blown up”) was an important talking point in favor of peace.
  • Three pictures of men and women in costume.
    Three scenes from a 1937 play “Terrible Meek” show an original caravan drama promoting peace.
  • African American woman teaches classroom of children.
    Caravanners--including Catholics, Protestants, and Jews-- taught Sunday school classes to bring a message of peace and world brotherhood to the younger generation.
  • Two young men teach boys in machine shop.
    Caravanners sometimes served as recreation leaders and teachers, as in this class in “manual arts” at a neighborhood settlement house in in Youngstown, Ohio.
  • Two men and two women around microphone in radio station.
    In summer 1947, some caravans had regular radio broadcasts, where they reported on their work and interviewed politicians and other local leaders.