Jan Waggoner Suter Papers
Scope and Contents
Jan Waggoner Suter thought of himself as a “radical libertarian” and a “socialist anarchist.” Although he earned a living for sixteen years as a mathematics instructor at the Community and Technical College of the University of Toledo, his real interest lay in pacifism and nonviolent change and, after 1975, in gay rights. He had associated himself with Quakers and with pacifist activities in his student days at Harvard and increased his participation in Quaker religious, social, and political affairs after he formally became a member in 1971. Suter belonged to a large number of national and local pacifist, anti-Vietnam War, and anti-draft organizations. For the most part, he played the role of a passive, dues-paying member, but he did take part in policy-making activities in some cases.
Much of this collection contains newsletters, memoranda, circulars, and flyers issued by these organizations. A fair proportion consists of literature in broadside form published by such organizations as the War Resisters League, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the American Friends Service Committee, and the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors, which Suter distributed to those he counseled in his capacity as draft counselor and to the public. He was something of a pamphleteer himself; although he rarely wrote the words he had printed on flyers, he frequently reprinted them from such sources as Win magazine. The bulk of the collection, then, consists of such secondary material, though it does have primary evidentiary value as examples of weaponry for the local anti-war and anti-draft movement in Toledo.
Material reflecting local activity probably holds the greatest value for researchers. Suter took an active role in the Draft Information and Counseling Service of the Toledo Area Council of Churches. Minutes of the meetings of the service date from 1969 to 1972 and provide a good record of the Service’s activities. Other files consist of the Service’s publicity and Suter’s notes made in counseling individuals. This service, although ostensibly not political, pacifist, or anti-war, was staffed mainly by anti-war clergymen. Besides the files labeled “Toledo Area Draft Information and Counseling Service,” the correspondence files contain much material generated by this activity.
Toledo anti-war materials include those files pertaining to the Toledo Committee for a Reasonable Settlement in Vietnam, 1966-1967; Peace Action Council of Toledo, 1968-1970; Toledo Coalition; Interfaith Justice and Peace Center, Sylvania, Ohio; Northwest Ohio Nuclear Freeze Campaign; and Fellowship of Reconciliation, Toledo Chapter. Other local materials can be found in files of Fellowship of Reconciliation; Indochina Peace Campaign; Ohio Council of Churches; Ohio Draft Counseling Association; Ohio Military Project; Ohio Peace Action Council; Ohioans for a Reasonable Settlement in Vietnam; and Vietnam Summer in Ohio. The files of the American Friends Service committee also relate to local activities.
An interest related to his anti-draft feelings was in prisoner support and visitation. Suter maintained a correspondence with several Federal prisoners in the early 1970s, and these letters are in the correspondence files. Other files concerned with this activity include Prisoner Visitation and Support and Federal Correctional Institution, Milan, Michigan.
Suter’s Quaker activities can be found in the Society of Friends series. This includes files pertaining to the American Friends Service Committee; Toledo Friends Meeting; Friends Committee for National Legislation; and Friends for Gay and Lesbian Concerns. The content of the files tends to be of a political, rather than purely religious, nature. Suter served on the Policy Committee of the Friends Committee of National Legislation, and its minutes from the years 1974 and 1975 are included. Much of the material in this series consists of notices of local meetings, of regional and national conferences, and “testimony” of other Friends prepared for general distribution.
From 1975 until his death, Suter, now an avowed homosexual, concerned himself primarily with gay and gay rights activities. The gay rights series includes files pertaining to gay organizations and activities, most of them in Toledo. The major organization in Toledo was the Personal Rights Organization. Its files contain notices of the group’s activities, such as dances, religious services, visiting speakers; a newsletter, 1974 to 1983; and files pertaining to its telephone counseling service, of which Suter was a prime mover. One folder containing certain counseling material has been deemed too sensitive for public use. It is closed to researchers until 1997. Other Toledo gay material includes files pertaining to Dignity Toledo, a Catholic organization; Toledo Gay Community Center; Ohio Gay Rights Coalition; and the Gay Student Association at the University of Toledo. Suter was instrumental in organizing the last-named group; its file is contained in the University of Toledo series. Significant material can also be found in the Friends for Gay and Lesbian Concerns files; the views on homosexuality which Suter and other gay Quakers shared did not meet the approval of the Society of Friends in general.
Finally, the collection contains other material on the history of the “counterculture” in Toledo. Although not as developed as in other larger, or academic, American communities, local versions of national trends can be seen in the files of the Earth Food Co-op, Free University of Greater Toledo, and Students for a Democratic Society, Toledo Chapter.
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open for research. Materials may be accessed by request at the Ward M. Canaday Center for Special Collections on the fifth floor of the William S. Carlson Library on the main campus of the University of Toledo. Materials do not circulate
Conditions Governing Use
In most cases, the Canaday Center does not own the copyright and literary rights to items in its collections; it is the responsibility of the researcher to adhere to U.S. Copyright and Fair Use laws, including seeking permission from the copyright holder and payment of any royalty fees, in the reproduction and use of archival materials. Providing copies or scans does not constitute a license to publish or reproduce images in print or electronic form.
Biographical / Historical
1938, March 14: Born in Toledo, son of Walter L. and Genevieve Suter.
1955: Graduated from Maumee High School.
1955-1962: Student at Harvard College.
1960, March: Married Patsy.
1962-1963: Took education classes at Bowling Green State University.
1963: A.B. (Mathematics), Harvard College.
1963-1964: Taught high school English.
1965-1967: Mathematics instructor, Eisenhower Junior High School, Oregon, Ohio.
1967-1968: Student at Notre Dame University.
1968: M.S. (Mathematics), Notre Dame University.
1968-1985: Instructor, Community and Technical College, University of Toledo.
1969-1973: Counselor, Toledo Area Draft Information and Counseling Service, Toledo Area Council of Churches.
1971: Joined Society of Friends.
1974-1975: On policy Committee, Friends Committee on National Legislation.
1976, February: His marriage dissolved.
1983: Resigned from Dayton Regional Personnel Committee, American Friends service Committee. Had been Lake Erie Yearly Meeting Representative since 1981.
1986, May 7: Died in Toledo, Ohio.
7 Linear Feet
Language of Materials
This collection consists largely of newsletters and circulars issued by pacifist, anti-war, and homosexual rights organization, as well as correspondence and miscellany relating to Jan W. Suter’s activity involving those issues. Most material dates from 1969 to 1980, although some material from 1959 to 1961, including his early pacifist activity in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and from other years in the general time span is contained in the collection. The collection would be especially useful for those studying the history of the anti-war movement, draft counseling, the gay rights movement, and the “counterculture,” in general, in Toledo and in Ohio during the 1960’s and 1970’s.
The entire collection is now open to researchers. The only original exception was a single folder containing Suter’s “Gay Hotline” telephone counseling notebook. Due to the sensitive and personal nature of the material in that folder, it was closed to researchers until 1997.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Marianne G. Nierling
Materials Specific Details
Some materials, due to their size and shape, are stored separately from the main collection. If so, a symbol is placed beside its description in the box and folder inventory. The symbols are defined as below:
* = oversize cabinet, drawer 1 ^ = oversize area ** = locked cabinet R-1 = range four
- Human Rights Subject Source: Local sources
- LGBTQ Subject Source: Local sources
- Labor Subject Source: Local sources
- Manuscripts Subject Source: Local sources
- Philosophy and Religion Subject Source: Local sources
- Toledo History Subject Source: Local sources
- War, Soldiers, Veterans Subject Source: Local sources
- Jan Waggoner Suter Papers
- Paul M. Gifford, August 1987, and Emily M. Carter, April 1990. Updated by Tamara Jones and Arjun Sabharwal, September 2009; last updated by Oliver Brown, April 2022.
- August 1987
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Edition statement
Part of the Ward M. Canaday Center for Special Collections Repository
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William S. Carlson Library, Fifth Floor
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