Peace Resource Center Receives NEH’s ‘Toward a More Perfect Union’ Award

June 23, 2022

Also, $10,000 Grant Designed to Create Plan for Permanent Archives Location

The Peace Resource Center at Wilmington College received a $10,000 grant and the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Toward a More Perfect Union award.

PICTURED: After the bombing of Hiroshima, a survivor gathered bits and pieces from his ruined home. From these he formed a mosiac of wood, ceramic and metal that he turned into a box. He stated, “We must make something beautiful out of rubble.”

The recognition constitutes part of the NEH’s special initiative involving the commemoration of the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in 2026. The grant involves preserving the PRC’s Barbara Reynolds Memorial Archives, which features the largest depository in the United States of materials associated with the human experience of nuclear war through the United States’ atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. It will result in an actionable implementation plan for the future of this historically unique and valuable collection.

The NEH’s Adriana Cutler said the PRC’s collection is connected to the 250th initiative’s goal to “explore, reflect on and tell the stories of our quest for a more just, inclusive and sustainable society throughout our history.”

She noted that, of the 71 Preservation Assistance Grants presented in 2021, the Peace Resource Center was among only 17 grant recipients selected for the Toward a More Perfect Union distinction.

Dr. Tanya Maus, director of the Peace Resource and Quaker Heritage centers at WC, said the grant, in addition to supporting the PRC’s strategic planning and collections care, enhances its national visibility and recognition.

“It situates our collection regarding the suffering of nuclear war as vital to the history of the United States and affirms that a history of peace and Quaker values of peace and nonviolence are essential historical narratives that are valued and increasingly visible within this national history,” she said. Maus noted that, without any additional application, the PRC’s project “caught the eye” of NEH staff involved with the 250th observance, which led to the Toward a More Perfect Union award.

“It shows to us that the NEH staff recognizes that there are multiple stories to be told about the United States and the story of those who suffered nuclear war and those who have worked to end nuclear war will be included,” she added.

The $10,000 grant is supporting a collections space assessment for the PRC’s Barbara Reynolds Memorial Archives. The collection is currently housed at the center, which is located in a century-old, College-owned house.

Katy Klettlinger, who visited the campus last winter, is a consultant for strategic planning and preservation with LYRASIS, a non-profit library organization. Her apace assessment confirmed the current site is not suitable for permanently housing such important collections and suggested an expanded Boyd Cultural Arts Center as a desirable location.

She describes the PRC’s collection as a “wealth of information and hidden gem waiting to be discovered by scholars.” She said the materials are not only valuable to outside researchers but also have much potential if included as part of the College’s curriculum.

“They uncover the local, regional and national impact Quakers and the College have had over time,” Klettlinger added. “The collection not only highlights the missionary work of Barbara Reynolds but opens a door to how the beliefs of Quakers have positively impacted others in the world in recent history.”