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Edith Wynner, Firecracker


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Edith Wynner, Schwimmer-Lloyd Photographs,box J31, Manuscripts and Archives DivisionEdith Wynner, Schwimmer-Lloyd Photographs,
box J31, Manuscripts and Archives Division
“Is there a Jew in the House?”

Thus began a meeting of the “Great Pro-American Mass Meeting in Behalf of Free Speech and Americanism,” a gathering of several anti-immigrant, anti-Communist, reactionary organizations, on May 24, 1939. The crowd, turned away from their first meeting location at Carnegie Hall, had re-congregated at the Great Northern Hotel a few doors down 57th street. Police swarmed the lobby, shouts went around to “keep the newspapers out,” and journalists were violently jostled aside. The individual who delivered the threatening question above soon turned on a young man, menacing towards him until the man protested that he was Italian, not Jewish. Among those present at this nationalistic rally were speakers for the American Patriots, Inc; the Christian Front; the American Nationalist Party…and a diminutive, pacifist Hungarian Jew, Edith Wynner.

Ms. Wynner, who began her career in the United States as personal secretary to peace activist Madame Rosika Schwimmer, soon developed into an advocate and lobbyist for world peace. Following the lead of her mentor Schwimmer, she believed the best means of sustaining peace would be the creation of a federal world government, directly elected by the people.

Over the course of her career, Ms. Wynner ran the New York office of the Campaign for World Government (pdf), co-wrote a book on peace plans throughout history (from 1306 to 1944!), wrote articles for pacifist and world government publications, and eventually ended her career as advisor and custodian to the Schwimmer-Lloyd Collection at (none other than) the New York Public Library.

What was Ms. Wynner doing at this meeting of wolves? Taking notes. She prided herself on keeping abreast of the actions of her ideological enemies. Far from fearing bullies, she felt she could hold her own. A firecracker indeed.


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Biography of Rosika Schwimmer

While doing research women in the international peace movement I have come across references to a planned biography of Rosika Schwimmer by Edith Wynner Do you know whether that project ever got finished? I have not been able to find it anywhere.

Edith Wynner did not finish

Edith Wynner did not finish the biography. Although she does appear to have taken copious notes, I have not seen any evidence of substantial drafts for a book. Instead, she spent the last several decades of her life processing and cataloging the voluminous Schwimmer-Lloyd Collections here at the library. If you are interested in further information on Wynner (or on Schwimmer and her compatriots), I would suggest contacting the Manuscripts & Archives Division:

PDF available?

I don't see the link for the pdf you mentioned in your post. I'd love to see a document by Ms. Wynner. Does the NYPL Digital Collections have any of her writings? Do you know of any other digital collections that might have material about her?

Edith Wynner

My apologies for the missing .pdf, which appears not to have migrated when we switched to our new website. It should be fixed now. The .pdf in question was a link to the finding aid for the Records of the Campaign for World Government's New York Office, held by the Manuscripts & Archives Division here at the library. I'm sorry to say that we don't have any further digital content on Ms. Wynner, however there is a large amount of material related to her in several of the Schwimmer-Lloyd collections in Manuscripts ( For more material on Ms. Wynner, you might consider contacting the Swarthmore College Peace Collection:

Edith Wynner

Thank you for the links!

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