World Peace Foundation, 1910-present


In 1910, Edwin Ginn founded the International School of Peace in Boston, renamed the World Peace Foundation shortly thereafter. The World Peace Foundation was founded with the express purpose of educating and mobilizing public opinion towards peace. Early trustees of the Foundation included Edwin Mead, founder of The New England Magazine; Sarah L. Arnold, dean of Simmons College; A. Lawrence Lowell, president of Harvard University; and Joseph Swain, president of Swarthmore College. The Foundation’s efforts ground to a virtual standstill at the beginning of World War I. With the refusal of the United States to ratify the Treaty of Versailles, the Foundation became the exclusive American distributors of literature for the League of Nations and the International Labor Organization, both of which the U.S. refused to join. The Foundation sponsored studies of the Soviet Union, Latin America, and China, and published pamphlets on Nazism and colonialism. In recent years the World Peace Foundation has sponsored studies of the Soviet Union, and of the Caribbean and Latin America. In the 1980s, the Foundation shifted its attention to Africa, focused particularly on how the United States should respond to Apartheid in South Africa. It also studied the effects of independence on various African countries, as well as Soviet interests in the region. Today, the World Peace Foundation concentrates its efforts on utilizing the media to influence and improve foreign policy.

History of World Peace Foundation

In 1910, textbook magnate Edwin Ginn founded the International School of Peace in Boston, renamed the World Peace Foundation shortly thereafter. Though many peace organizations already existed in the early 20th century, most of them concentrated their efforts on theory and ideology. The World Peace Foundation, conversely, was founded with the express purpose of educating and mobilizing public opinion towards peace. Early trustees of the Foundation included Edwin Mead, founder of The New England Magazine; Sarah L. Arnold, dean of Simmons College; A. Lawrence Lowell, president of Harvard University; and Joseph Swain, president of Swarthmore College.

The Foundation originally focused on pamphlets as the most efficacious way of reaching large numbers of people. Ginn was also a proponent of networking with peace organizations in other areas. In the years prior to the First World War, the Foundation sent lobbyists to Washington and advocates to school, church, and society groups. Mead spoke extensively in Japan and Europe.

The Foundation’s efforts ground to a virtual standstill at the beginning of World War I as its disillusioned members sought a new direction for their efforts. With the refusal of the United States to ratify the Treaty of Versailles after the war, the Foundation became the exclusive American distributor of literature for the League of Nations and the International Labor Organization, both of which the U.S. refused to join. The Foundation sponsored studies of the Soviet Union, Latin America, and China, and published pamphlets on Nazism and colonialism. Two of its books, Haiti Under American Control, by Arthur C. Milspaugh, and The United States in the Caribbean, by Dana Gardner Munro, were instrumental in changing American policy towards the Caribbean.

In the years leading up to World War II, the Foundation opposed isolationist policies. It advocated military preparedness for the United States and sought economic sanctions against Germany and Japan. After the war, Director Leland Goodrich, focused the Foundation's work on the reorganization of Europe. Goodrich sat on the San Francisco Council, which created the United Nations.

In recent years the World Peace Foundation has sponsored studies on a variety of topics. It produced several studies of the Soviet Union, as well as the Caribbean and Latin America. In the 1980s, the Foundation shifted its attention to Africa, focused particularly on how the United States should respond to Apartheid in South Africa. It also studied the effects of independence on various African countries, as well as Soviet interests in the region. Today, the World Peace Foundation concentrates its efforts on utilizing the media to influence and improve foreign policy.