The papers, correspondence, and memorabilia contained in the Berrigan-McAlister Collection reflect the nonviolent resistance efforts of the Berrigan Brothers and Elizabeth McAlister.
The materials originated from three locations: the West Side Jesuit Community in Manhattan (the residence of Daniel Berrigan), the Jonah House in Baltimore, Maryland (the residence of Philip Berrigan and Elizabeth McAlister), and from the former home of William Stringfellow on Block Island, Rhode Island.
The materials represent the history of the Catholic left during the last 40 years. Philip Berrigan, a former Josephite priest, and Daniel Berrigan, a Jesuit priest and poet, staged significant protests against the Vietnam War during the 1960s and 70s. Philip and his wife Elizabeth McAlister have continued the spirit of that civil disobedience through their involvement in the Plowshares movement's opposition to nuclear weapons and through the community they created at Jonah House in Baltimore, Maryland. For more information on the Plowshares movement, please consult the Plowshares Actions files at the beginning of the collection.
The bulk of the correspondence included in the collection consists of Philip's correspondence from jail while serving time for his involvement in the Prince of Peace Plowshares. A correspondent's name is listed when a continuing correspondence with Philip exists. One-time correspondences are contained in General Correspondence. Philip's correspondence is arranged alphabetically by correspondent and chronologically by postmark within each folder. The General Correspondence is arranged chronologically by postmark. When Philip's response to a letter exists, it is included with the original correspondence. Additional correspondence can be found within the Plowshares Actions materials. Philip Berrigan's letters to Elizabeth McAlister and her letters written during her own imprisonment are included after the correspondence addressed to Philip. Daniel Berrigan's correspondence remains in the order in which it was transferred with the exception of correspondence from family members that has been extracted from the general correspondence. Daniel's correspondence is arranged chronologically by the date indicated on each piece.
The collection contains information on Block Island, Rhode Island where Daniel Berrigan evaded the FBI by staying at the home of lawyer and theologian William Stringfellow. These materials detail community planning efforts and utility reforms as well as ephemera relative to the community on the island.
The works of poetry included in the collection originated from Daniel Berrigan. Most of the collections are self-published gifts to Daniel. They are arranged chronologically by publication date.
The articles, papers, and publications detail the history of the Berrigan-McAlister protests as well as the history of the Catholic Worker movement and the history of nonviolent resistance. The Plowshares Actions files contain articles and publications specific to the Plowshares movement. Philip and Daniel's correspondences also contain articles sent to them by their correspondents, materials often times duplicating articles found elsewhere in the collection. The articles, papers, and publications are arranged chronologically by date.
The collection includes programs and lecture notes from various conferences and retreats administered or attended by the Berrigans and McAlister. These materials are maintained in chronological order.
Information pertaining to specific topics related to the work of the Berrigans and McAlister can be found in the Topic Files. These materials are arranged chronologically. The manuscripts found in the collection include an important sermon written by Daniel Berrigan while on the run in the late 1960s as well as Philip Berrigan's prison-writings. These materials are also arranged chronologically.
The memorabilia included in the collection contains various photographs extracted from the accessions as well as fliers, programs, artworks, and other ephemera related to the Berrigans and McAlister. The materials are arranged chronologically.
The collection concludes with author Murray Polner's research files for his book on the Berrigans entitled Disarmed and Dangerous: The Radical Life and Times of Daniel and Philip Berrigans. The files include copies of materials found in the Daniel and Philip Berrigan Collection at Cornell University. The materials are unprocessed but remain available to researchers.
The Berrigan-McAlister Collection also contains approximately 700 volumes from the personal libraries of William Stringfellow and Daniel Berrigan. The books are catalogued and shelved with the collection. Many of the books are annotated by Berrigan and Stringfellow. A bibliography of the books is available from the Special Collections and Archives staff.