Our Communicator of the Month series showcases individuals whose voices have made a lasting impact on our country. In 2023, we recognize 12 Proponents of Peace who were dedicated to resolving conflict and envisioned a world without violence. Whether they advocated for civil education classes or found the common link between the civil rights and peace movements, the efforts of these activists mitigated hostile conditions in many of the world’s most divided countries — including our own. Their cooperative processes led to negotiation, reconciliation and growth — and are still teaching us how to connect back to our shared humanity, even in times of strife.
“All that has been accomplished in the international peace movement has been done through the process of education. . . If law is to be substituted for war, it must be chiefly through the children of the present generation.” — Fannie Fern Andrews
September 25, 1867 — January 23, 1950
Fannie Fern Andrews lived her years as a diligent educator, driven by her conviction for peace studies both nationally and internationally. Her devotion to education combined with her pacifistic ideologies helped to establish organizations that would teach the principles of international justice in all nations.
Born in Canada and raised in Nova Scotia, Andrews took an interest in education at an early age. She attended the Salem Normal School in Massachusetts and worked for six years as a teacher in Lynn, Ma., before earning a degree in psychology and education from Radcliffe College in 1902.
While teaching in the public schools of Boston, Andrews became convinced that conflicts between ethnic and economic backgrounds were the catalyst for conflicts between countries. She believed that to bring peace and understanding between differing ethnic groups, each must be taught how to communicate and negotiate peacefully.
This ideology inspired Andrews to form the Boston Home and School Association in 1907, one of the earliest school-affiliated parents’ organizations. A year later, she organized the American School Peace League — an organization dedicated to teaching the principles of international justice in American schools. Pacifist literature and study courses produced by the League began to spread nationwide and eventually were distributed by the U.S. Bureau of Education in 1912.
It was the events of World War I that provoked Andrews’ interest in establishing international organizations to preserve peace; she believed that an international bureau of education would promote understanding among nations.
Andrews helped found the Central Organization for a Durable Peace where she conducted studies of international problems, and published “The Freedom of the Seas” in 1917 and “A Course in Foreign Relations” in 1919 for the army’s educational commission.
President Woodrow Wilson chose Andrews as a representative of the U.S. Bureau of Education and the New England Women’s Press Association for the Paris Peace Conference in 1918. Here, she lobbied for the upcoming League of Nations to include in its covenant a provision for an international bureau of education. Andrews was unsuccessful in this pursuit; however, in 1925, her ideas would lead to the founding of the International Bureau of Education in Geneva where she sat on its advisory board.
In 1923, she was awarded a Ph.D. by Radcliffe College for a study she conducted of the postwar mandate system. Her steady advocacy for peace education in international school curricula guided Andrews until her death in 1950.
Tags: activitism / American School Peace League / nonviolence / Paris Peace Conference / peace activist / peace movements / political activism / Public Education