Program: Experience of Eastern Pennsylvania Mennonite Conscientious Objectors in World War I

Local historian Duane Kauffman will describe the experiences of some Mennonite conscientious objectors from eastern Pennsylvania during World War I, in the context of the United States’ escalating militarization in these years.

What provisions, if any, did the government make for religious objectors?  What were the expectations that church leaders at home had of their young COs?  What kind of treatment did Eastern Pennsylvania Mennonite inductees experience in their army camp?  How did they respond, and how did it compare with that of Mennonites in other parts of the country?  As a case study, Kauffman will also describe the process of conscription and classification as documented in the papers of one area Mennonite conscientious objector.

Joel Alderfer, MHC collections manager, will follow Kauffman’s lecture with an illustrated presentation, “Doing Their Duty: the experience of area Mennonite and Brethren boys who accepted military service in World War I”.   Alderfer will look at a group of young men from the Salford Mennonite and Indian Creek Brethren communities who volunteered for, or were drafted into military service.  What do we know about their war-time experiences and what happened to them after they returned home?

Open to the public. Admission by donation.

Come early and view the related exhibit Voices of Conscience: Peace Witness in the Great War.