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Dorothy Detzer

Dorothy Detzer was born on the 11th December 1893 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Her father, August, was a drugstore owner and her mother, Laura, was a librarian. Throughout her childhood, Dorothy's parents focused on her education, and in her late teens, she spent time travelling in the Far East, instead of going to college. After settling back in the US, she moved into Hull House in Chicago. Hull House was a settlement founded in 1889, originally for people who had immigrated to America and over time became a space for women’s education.

In 1918, Dorothy’s twin brother, Donald, died in a mustard gas attack. Forever changed by his death, Detzer gave the rest of her life to fighting for peace and justice across the globe. She became a pacifist and joined the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker committee set up to work for peace and social justice across the US. She spent many years campaigning for legislation to be passed through Congress, including for the Kellog-Briand Pact, that outlawed war between France and the US. She also coordinated a national petition for global disarmament which got over 500,000 signatures.

In 1928, she became the National Executive Secretary of the US Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). While working there, she campaigned for a Senate investigation into the international munitions industry, as well as focusing attention on the exploitation of African countries, by US businesses. She also worked for freedom for Cuba from U.S. intervention, and argued for neutrality as the US approached World War II. After she stepped down, she spent many years working as a foreign correspondent.

Dorothy died on the 7th January 1981, at the age of 87. Her life is one that has been forgotten by a world built to remember men. She played a huge part in trying to work towards world peace in the aftermath of both World Wars, but her name has largely been forgotten. She is just one of the women we have to thank for where we are today, and we must make sure never to forgot other women like Dorothy Detzer, who played a key role in shaping government policy and direction.

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