Saturday, January 08, 2005

Emily Greene Balch

On this date in 1867, Emily Greene Balch was born. Balch was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1946, only the second American woman so honored.

A member of Bryn Mawr College's first graduating class in 1889, Balch went on to study economics at Harvard and the University of Chicago. She taught economics and sociology at Wellesley College until World War I when she became a founder of the Women's International Committee for Permanent Peace, an organization that would later become the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. Balch worked for--and on behalf of--the WILPF for much of her life. She donated her share of the Nobel Peace Prize money to the WILPF as well. Vladimir Simkhovitch, Professor of Economic History at Columbia University, said, "I have never met anyone who has, as she has done, for decade after decade given every minute of her life to the work for peace between nations."

During the 1920s, Balch participated in many activities of the League of Nations, and in the 1930s she worked to assist those who were persecuted by the Nazis. Her opposition to fascism led her to put aside her earlier pacifism in exchange for a more militant approach to the defense of human rights.

Emily Greene Balch died on January 9, 1961, one day after her ninety-fourth birthday.