Healey Library's New Website

The library has a new website! The new URL is http://www.umb.edu/library. Starting Friday, August 26 access to the library's old website will automatically redirect you to the new site. If you experience any problems or wish to provide feedback, please contact library.support@umb.edu.

McEldowney, Carol : Hanoi Journal, 1967


Quantity

1/2 document case

Provenance

Carol McEldowney's Hanoi Journal was donated to the Archives and Special Collections Department of the Healey Library at the University of Massachusetts Boston Library by Katherine D. Roberts on May 13, 1997.

Biography

The Hanoi Journal of Carol Cohen McEldowney (1967), by Jesse Diamond

Although she died, in 1973, at the young age of 30, "the spunky Carol McEldowney," as she was called by Todd Gitlin in his book The Sixties, (Bantam Books, 1987, page 232), was outstanding in her accomplishments. During the decade that preceded her death, she worked diligently in the "New Left," as a community organizer for Economic Research and Action Project (ERAP), working with welfare mothers in Cleveland, and for Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). Her increased understanding of poverty, the link between the underclass and those who go to war, catalyzed her growing involvement in the Antiwar Movement. In 1967, she was one of only two women in a small contingent from the United States to travel to Vietnam. The purpose of this trip was to study Vietnamese society and the consequences of this war upon it, in order to further the goals of those fighting "back home," (in the U.S.), to end the war.

In 1971, she moved to Boston. Here, she immersed herself in the incipient and growing Women's Movement, playing a central role in identifying the need for a community Women's Center; she was instrumental in that goal being reached. During this time she came out, proclaiming herself a lesbian. As with all of the human rights causes she had previously been an essential part of, she struggled courageously, this time in the Gay Liberation Movement, for the right to self determination regarding sexual orientation.

From 1971 until the end of her life, she vigorously studied martial arts and taught practical self defense classes to women and children, becoming one of the founders of the movement to use self defense for rape prevention and safety education. She was an original contributor to Our Bodies; Ourselves, coediting the chapter on self defense. This source book on women's health, has since been adopted as a curriculum text in many high schools and colleges nationwide. She also demonstrated her commitment to women's safety by participating at one of the first women's martial arts exhibitions in the country during International Women's Day, in 1973, in Boston.

Carol McEldowney also wrote about her political experiences. In the Hanoi Journal (1967), McEldowney kept meticulous notes on her reactions to experiences during a month long journey to North Vietnam, where she went as part of a U.S. contingent of ten activists. Unwilling to accept what she believed were censored images of the North Vietnamese, she decided, along with her fellow travelers, to go to Vietnam and record what she observed. This journal included sketches of villages, translations of Vietnamese songs and phrases, as well as detailed discussions about the military, health and political systems in North Vietnam. She also begins to discuss her thoughts about women's roles, regarding both herself and Vietnamese women.

In the Summer 1996 issue of UMass Boston, a Magazine for Alumni and Friends of the University of Massachusetts Boston (Volume 1, number 1), in the piece titled "The Power of Poetry: Bridging the Silence Left by the War," which discusses the William Joiner Center for the Study of War and Social Consequences, the author writes, "The Vietnam war left in its wake a debilitating silence that has inhibited reconciliation ... between Vietnam and the United States. Kevin Bowen, the Center's Director says, "Anyone who has been affected by the war generally supports a position that tries to prevent war." Thirty years ago, Carol McEldowney was an essential participant in the movement which helped bring U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War to an end. She did this in part by journeying to North Vietnam, as a gesture to create reconciliation between our cultures. She documents this journey in the Hanoi Journal.

Scope and Content

Carol McEldowney also wrote about her political experiences. In the Hanoi Journal (1967), McEldowney kept meticulous notes on her reactions to experiences during a month long journey to North Vietnam, where she went as part of a U.S. contingent of ten activists. Unwilling to accept what she believed were censored images of the North Vietnamese, she decided, along with her fellow travelers, to go to Vietnam and record what she observed. This journal included sketches of villages, translations of Vietnamese songs and phrases, as well as detailed discussions about the military, health and political systems in North Vietnam. She also begins to discuss her thoughts about women's roles, regarding both herself and Vietnamese women.

In the Summer 1996 issue of UMass Boston, a Magazine for Alumni and Friends of the University of Massachusetts Boston (Volume 1, number 1), in the piece titled "The Power of Poetry: Bridging the Silence Left by the War," which discusses the William Joiner Center for the Study of War and Social Consequences, the author writes, "The Vietnam war left in its wake a debilitating silence that has inhibited reconciliation ... between Vietnam and the United States. Kevin Bowen, the Center's Director says, "Anyone who has been affected by the war generally supports a position that tries to prevent war." Thirty years ago, Carol McEldowney was an essential participant in the movement which helped bring U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War to an end. She did this in part by journeying to North Vietnam, as a gesture to create reconciliation between our cultures. She documents this journey in the Hanoi Journal.

INVENTORY

Box 1:

    1. Journal, 1967 (1 mss. volume)
    2. Journal photocopy