Helen Corson

1884 - 1979
 Helen Corson was born in Minnesota and came to Chester County, Pennsylvania near the turn of the twentieth century. She became a member of London Grove Friends Meeting in 1926 and was active in the Meeting for the rest of her life. As a teenager Helen was a suffragette, by World War 1 a pacifist. In the Great Depression she worked with an American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) emergency relief program for poverty-stricken miners in Kentucky and West Virginia. But Helen was just getting started; she opposed nuclear testing, McCarthyism and the war in Vietnam. After World War 2 she lived frugally so that she could send a monthly care package to war ravaged Europe. In the 1930s Helen became involved with race relations and poverty. In 1975 she was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Lincoln University.

We'll get to all of that in much more detail as this website grows. This is a website under construction, additions are being frequently made .
 
The Helen Corson Biography Project
In June of 2015 London Grove Friends Meeting approved the formation of an ad hoc committee to initiate The Helen Corson Biography Project. Barbara Walker, David Williamson, Linda Currie, Sandy Rieber, Laurie Watkins and David Watkins joined the committee. David Watkins was chosen as clerk.

This Helen Corson Website is a product of the Biography Project. The initial purpose of the website is to make available the source documents that we have located that provide us with a record of Helen, her life and her time. Mostly you will find here the raw data of Helen's life. The census records, biographies, obituaries, extracts from Meeting minutes and discoveries on the web. The more difficult task remains; to correlate the various historical records with the interviews we have recorded of people who remember Helen.

This website itself is my creation, any lack of polish in word or design, any error of fact or faulty expression are on my doorstep. The website is for a full size screen. My coding skills have yet to adapt to tablets and phones. For corrections, suggestions or just for conversation click on my name to send email.

--David Watkins
October 1, 2016
 
Helen Corson Peace Awards
 After Helen passed in 1979 there were many in the Meeting who felt that something needed to be done to remember this persistent and spirit filled member. Shortly thereafter the Helen Corson Peace Award was established for graduating seniors at local high schools. In 2016 awards of $300 each were given to seniors at six schools. The inscription on the award certificate reads:

"In recognition of a graduating senior who by attitude or action advocates or promotes the resolution of conflicts in a nonviolent way. The recipient has through words and deeds furthered the causes of human understanding and brotherhood."

2017 Helen Corson Peace Awards


Lauren Florio *** Oxford High School
Jaclyn Domsohn *** Coatesville Area High School
Kelli Maher *** Octorara High School
Lauren Davis *** Avon Grove High School
Uma Balaji *** Unionville High School
Lydia Pebly *** Kennett High School

2016 Helen Corson Peace Awards


Robert Miller *** Oxford High School
Katherine Ernst *** Coatesville Area High School
Madison Stoltzfus *** Octorara High School
Kathryn Malone *** Avon Grove High School
Hana Graybill *** Unionville High School
Maria Kaliakin *** Kennett High School
 
Family
 Helen H. Corson was born on July 17, 1884 in New Richland, Minnesota. Her parents were Henry and Sarah Corson. She was born into a distinguished family.
 
Documents
 A first step in the Helen Corson Biography Project has been to gather all of the written records we could find. That wasn't initially much, just a couple of obituaries and a biography composed by a London Grove Peace Committee at some unspecified time. On the web we found a biography of Helen in Friends Journal titled A Quaker Portrait: Helen B. Corson. The author of the 1975 article is Maryann McNaughton Swinehart, a member of London Grove Friends Meeting. We were also given a copy of a 1982 Meeting publication Friends of London Grove. It is a collection of biographies and memorials of 18 London Grove Friends. The most recent of these biographies is that of Helen Corson and was written by Helen Walton who knew her well.

We have also gathered information about Helen Corson from the London Grove Friends Meeting Minutes that are archived in the Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College. Scanning through decades of minutes looking for records of Helen was often interuptted by all matter of interesting occurrence within the Meeting.

These are the primary written records that we have.
 
Causes & Activism
  Helen was involved in causes from an early age and throughout her long life. A teenage suffragette and in a DC jail at age 78. She engaged in pacifism, poverty relief and race relations. She opposed nuclear testing, McCarthyism, germ warfare, the war in Vietnam and bombing in Cambodia. Here we will explore some of these issues.



That's all for now. There is much more to be added.
Last Revised: 6/12/2017