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Elmer Maas Plowshares collection

Identifier: MSS0094

Scope and Contents

The Elmer Maas Plowshares collection dates from the 1940s to 2005, with the majority of materials starting in the 1970s. The collection is separated into two series: Plowshares and Legal Research Files. The Plowshares series includes files about specific actions, general information about Plowshares, writings by Maas, photographs, and videos. The Legal Research Files include various files Elmer Maas maintained about legal topics such as justification and jury nullification.


  • 1940s-2005
  • Majority of material found within 1970s-2005

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research use.

Biographical / Historical

Elmer Maas, Philip Berrigan, and other peace activists started the Plowshares Movement in 1980 at the General Electric Plant in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania (Plowshares Eight). Members of this movement targeted a specific site such as a military base or ammunitions factory in order to disarm the machines of war made or stored at these locations. The peace activists used hammers to damage the missiles, planes, and submarines and poured their own blood at the sites to represent the death and destruction of these weapons. The motto of the Plowshares Movement is "Swords into Plowshares" (Isaiah 2:4). Elmer Maas participated in a number of Plowshares actions including the Plowshares Eight, Plowshares Number Four, and Thames River Plowshares. Elmer Maas worked as a college professor, first at Kendall College in Evanston, Illinois, and then at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. He began his non-violent resistance career by participating in the Selma march and Montgomery voter registration drives. Later, he became the de facto Plowshares historian. Because of this, his collection covers many different Plowshares actions, some with more material than others. He died on May 8, 2005 at the Community for Nonviolent Action in Voluntown, Connecticut.


8.5 Linear Feet (10 boxes)

Language of Materials



The Elmer Maas Plowshares collection is organized into two series: 1. Plowshares and 2. Legal Research Files.

Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Liz McAlister, Accession 2006.31

Related Materials

Daniel Berrigan papers; Jerome C. Berrigan papers; Philip Berrigan and Ellizabeth McAlister papers; The Berrigan Library; John McNamee papers; Collection on Peace Activism; Murray Polner papers; Hit & Stay (documentary) SpC. 959.7043 H674t2014.

Processing Information

M. Cole 2008; C. Faison 2013; revised by P. Chavez 2018

Elmer Maas Plowshares collection
M. Cole 2008; C. Faison 2013; revised by P. Chavez 2018
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the DePaul Special Collections and Archives Repository

John T. Richardson Library
2350 N. Kenmore Ave.
Room 314
Chicago Illinois 60614