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Horses, Cows, and Typhus

In 1919, the new Polish government asked members of the Religious Society of Friends to help stop an outbreak of typhus. The epidemic was caused by refugees who brought it with them when they returned to claim their farmland after World War I. During the war, many farmers and villagers had hastily evacuated the countryside when Germans advanced into the area, devastating large parts and turning them into battlefields. The people who owned the land had fled to the east to parts of Russia.

Quakers Launch Postwar Feeding Program at Herbert Hoover's Request

Although this feeding program was the first official effort by the United States to address the hunger and malnutrition that haunted Germany after World War I, Quakers had been aware of the problem for several years. This is the story about what led to their knowledge.

Origin of AFSC

The events that gave birth to the American Friends Service Committee began with a meeting of fourteen Friends on the last day of April 1917 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At the beginning of that month, the United States declared war on Germany and its allies, and Friends foresaw an approaching crisis for young Quakers, who would be subject to the draft. In this initial meeting,* they discussed what constructive work might be done in the battle zone of northern France and how those conscientiously opposed to war might carry out alternative service there.

Archives - AFSC Historical Timeline

1917
Work on behalf of conscientious objectors; reconstruction work in France; planning of major relief work undertaken later in Germany.
1919
Russia;work on behalf of conscientious objectors.
1920s
Continued relief work in Europe; peace efforts in the United States.
1930s
Programs in Appalachia; relief project during the Spanish Civil War; assistance to Jewish and other European refugees; Emergency Peace Campaign in the United States.
1940s
Assistance to Japanese-Americans relocated during WWII; r

Who we are

AFSC is a Quaker organization devoted to service, development, and peace programs throughout the world. Our work is based on the belief in the worth of every person, and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice. Learn more

Where we work

AFSC has offices around the world. To see a complete list see the Where We Work page.

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