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June 14–20, 1924

President MacCracken welcomed the Institute for a Christian Basis of World Relations to Vassar. Over 200 delegates represented the League of Women Voters, the YWCA, the American Association of University Women, the Foreign Policy Association and other organizations. The first women’s gathering to be held for this purpose, the institute was “speechless” by design. No formal addresses were scheduled. Delegates voted instead at the outset for the ”areas of thought” they wished to have discussed.

The topics chosen ranged from “Race Relations in the United States” and “The Immigration Policy of the United States” to “The Outlawry of War as a Way to Peace” and “The Humanitarian Problems of the World.” Instead of lecturers, the delegates, from 19 states and 11 foreign countries, had on hand over a dozen experts on political and cultural conditions in countries around the world, who served as a “human reference library…ready to give advice on knotty problems.” This group included Professor James Shotwell from Columbia—a member of “The Inquiry,” Woodrow Wilson’s foreign policy brain trust who had attended the Paris Peace Conference—Dr. John Hope of Morehouse College—whose knowledge of American racial issues was drawn upon—and two young members of the American YWCA, recently returned from the Near East and Russia. The only college students invited to the institute were Vassar foreign students from Finland, Czechoslovakia, Poland and China, under the “chairmanship” of Caroline Wolfstein ’24.

As the conference went along, participants were reported to be asking that the three daily session, stretching over nearly six hours, be lengthened, and an observer commented that the women “put aside personal opinions. It is facts they crave, irrespective of creed, politics or racial barriers. They are here to open their minds to all sides of every question.” He added, “I came here to remain a day, and I have stayed the whole week.”

The institute culminated with a “town meeting,” the topic for which was “What shall we as individuals do about it?”

The New York Times

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