Category Archives: Correspondence

The Kennedy Legacy Abroad

Last week, the Peace Corps Community Archive blog featured a post on Sargent Shriver, the first director of the Peace Corps. This week, we are focusing on Shriver’s brother-in-law, President John F. Kennedy, who established the Peace Corps in 1961. While campaigning the previous year, Kennedy gave an impromptu speech to a number of students at the University of Michigan. He asked the assembled students, “I think in many ways it is the most important campaign since 1933, mostly because of the problems which press upon the United States, and the opportunities which will be presented to us in the 1960s. The opportunity must be seized, through the judgment of the President, and the vigor of the executive, and the cooperation of the Congress.” Inspired by the spirit of volunteerism Kennedy encountered among young voters during the 1960 campaign, he issued an executive order in 1961 establishing the Peace Corps as “responsible for the training and service abroad of men and women of the United States in new programs of assistance to nations and areas of the world, and in conjunction with or in support of existing economic assistance programs of the United States and of the United Nations and other international organizations.” 

Child, Jack. Tribute to John F. Kennedy, 14 April 1964. Jack Child Stamp Collection. American University Library. Archives and Special Collections.

Tribute to John F. Kennedy, 14 April 1964. Jack Child Stamp Collection. American University Library. Archives and Special Collections.

Many Peace Corps volunteers serving in the 1960s were likewise inspired by the legacy of John F. Kennedy’s presidency. Peace Corps volunteer Terry Kennedy (Colombia 1964-66, no relation), wrote to his parents less than one year after JFK’s assassination about the reverence the Colombians had for President Kennedy. Terry wrote home,  “How do you like the Kennedy Stamps? The Americans that the people down here admire are JFK and Lincoln and Washington.” This and other letters from Terry Kennedy during his time in the Peace Corps are available to research in the Peace Corps Community Archive at American University.

Colombia issued these stamps in memory of John F. Kennedy. These stamps demonstrate the respect other countries had for the recently assassinated President. Colombia was not the only South American country to honor President Kennedy. Argentina also created their own version of a Kennedy Stamp, one of which (pictured, right) is found in the Jack Child Collection at the American University Archive and Special Collections.

 

Returned Peace Corps Volunteers Northeastern New York

RPCV Northeastern New York
Date of Materials: 1986-2004

Accession Date: October 9, 2014
Access: No restrictions
Collection Size: 0.5 linear feet

Document Types

  • Correspondence
  • Membership lists
  • Minutes
  • Newsletters
  • Newsletters from other RPCV groups

Duane H. Hudson in Nigeria

Duane H. Hudson

Country of Service: Nigeria
Place of Service: Apapa
Service Type: Science Education
Dates in Service: 1963-1965
Keywords: Nigeria, Apapa, Science Education, United Christian Secondary Commercial School, Tilley Lamp

Accession Date: September 23, 2014
Access: No restrictions
Collection Size: 0.25 linear feet

Document Types

  • Correspondence
  • Reports
  • Publications
  • Newsletters

Ed and Karen DeAntoni in Turkey

Ed and Karen Thode DeAntoni

Country of Service: Turkey IV
Place of Service: Unye and Ankara
Service Type: Education
Dates in Service: 1964-1966
Keywords: Education

Accession Date: March 6, 2014; May 15, 2014
Access: Authors must be credited in subsequent uses
Collection Size: 1.75 linear feet

Document Types

  • Correspondence
  • Biographical sketches of Turkey 4-A
  • Peace Corps training materials including Turkish language manuals and notes
  • Peace Corps publications relating to serving and living overseas
  • Turkish Tourism Materials
  • Training materials of Turkey 12, Summer 1966 at Occidental College, CA
  • Map of Ed and Karen Thode DeAntoni’s travels in Turkey, 1965-1966, for slide presentations at Occidental
  • CD of photographs from training at the School for International Living in Putney, VT

Adventure in “a Great Big World”

Alan Crew used letters to describe experiences in Benin City, Nigeria to his family in the United States.  Included in his donation to the PCCA, a memoir—compiled years after his experience—contains typed copies of the letters he wrote home, as well as transcriptions of audio tapes and photos.  His letters capture the excitement and hard work of serving in the Peace Corps.

Working as a teacher at the Edo Boys’ School, Crew taught literature, English grammar, and French.  The Boys’ School, surrounded by an old rubber plantation, appeared to be a difficult assignment.  In a January 19, 1965 letter home, Crew wrote “The school has real problems and as Sam Selkow, our regional representative (administrator in charge of the Midwest Peace Corps volunteers) says, –it’s the most challenging assignment he’s ever given anyone.”  Despite the challenges that lay ahead, Crew eagerly admitted,

The veteran Peace Corps volunteers are really exciting, and as independent as anything I’ve ever seen or imagined.  I guess that the living alone does it to you, but man are they self sufficient.  I get the feeling that they’d be right at home on the moon! The next two years look to be tough, challenging and intense.  I think I’ll like it.

Based on his letters, Crew’s possession of a motorcycle enhanced the overall experience in the Peace Corps.  On January 22, 1965, Crew informed his family about the new mode of transportation.  “My school has just provided me with a rather large motorcycle for transportation, and, as you can imagine, I’m having a ball with it.  As the Peace Corps supplies us all with crash helmets, the danger of serious injury is lessened, so you needn’t worry.”

This isn’t the only time he mentions his motorcycle in letters home.  As Crew adjusted to living in Nigeria, he also got used to traveling by motorcycle.  On January 27, 1965 Crew wrote,

My motorcycle is running beautifully, although it still isn’t completely broken in.  I can understand the almost reverent feeling the old volunteers have for their machines, as they afford one the only means of mobility available…There are 104 of us within 125 miles of each other so that we can all get together on weekends if we like.  Therefore, the mobility of the motorcycle takes on a new dimension of importance.

By reading Crew’s letters, it is easy to get a sense of what’s important.  They also possess insight into the volunteer’s  thoughts about their experiences, how they dealt with the challenges that arose (being in a new country, work, living conditions, illness, etc.), as well as what they did for fun.  Peace Corps volunteers’ letters, like Crew’s, also convey their attitudes and feelings towards a range of topics.  Crew claimed in a letter on March 10, 1965:

Whoever said that P.C. life was dull and frustrating must have had his head in the ground.  I’ve got so much to do now that I don’t know when I’m ever going to find time to feel bored.  And you talk about excited! Why, man, there’s a great big world outside of the states that I didn’t even know existed until I left.  It’s really a sin more people don’t see it.

Peggy Gleeson Wyllie in Colombia

Peggy Gleeson Wyllie

Country of Service: Colombia
Place of Service: Fusagasuga and Guapi
Service Type: Nursing and Nursing Education
Dates in Service: 1963-1965
Keywords: Education, Health, Nursing

Accession Date: February 2011; Friends of Colombia Archive
Access: No restrictions
Collection Size: 3 folders

Document Types

  • Correspondence
  • Photographs
  • Publications
  • Slides

David Wessel in Colombia

David Wessel

Country of Service: Colombia
Place of Service: Rivere, Huila and Antioguia
Service Project Title: CARE Program
Dates in Service: 1962-1964
Keywords: Education, Health, Nutrition, Sanitation

Accession Date: July 2000; Friends of Colombia Archive
Access: No restrictions
Collection Size: 0.75 linear feet

Document Types

  • Correspondence
  • Photographs
  • Publications

Terry Kennedy in Colombia

Terry Kennedy

Country of Service: Colombia
Place of Service: Tangua, Narino
Service Project Title: Educational TV Project (ETV)
Dates in Service: 1964-1966
Keywords: Education, Information Technology, Youth

Accession Date: June 1999; Friends of Colombia Archive
Access: No restrictions
Collection Size: 1 linear foot

Document Types

  • Correspondence
  • Notebooks
  • Photographs
  • Publications
  • Slides

Christine Hager in Colombia

Christine Hager

Country of Service: Colombia
Place of Service: Dagua, Valle
Service Type: Nutrition Education; Integrated Plan for Applied Nutrition (PINA)
Dates in Service: 1968-1970
Keywords: Education, Health

Accession Date: January 2006; Friends of Colombia Archive
Access: No restrictions
Collection Size: 1 linear foot

Document Types

  • Correspondence
  • Photographs
  • Publications
  • Slides

Nancy Ann McClintock in Colombia

Nancy Ann McClintock

Country of Service: Colombia
Place of Service: Pereira and Bogota
Service Type: Education and Conservation
Dates in Service: 1972-1974
Keywords: Agriculture, Education, Environment, Youth

Accession Date: July 2001; Friends of Colombia Archive
Access: No restrictions
Collection Size: 3 folders

Document Types

  • Correspondence
  • Publications
  • Sound