Skip to main content
COLLECTION Identifier: MC 1132

Papers of Jennifer Claire Rader, 1984-2005 (inclusive), 1992-1993 (bulk)


Witness for Peace application, correspondence, workshop materials, and journals of Jennifer Claire Rader, who worked with Guatemalan refugees in Mexico in the early 1990s.


  • 1984-2005
  • Majority of material found within 1992-1993

Language of Materials

Materials in English and Spanish.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Jennifer Claire Rader is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.

Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


1.04 linear feet (2 + ½ file boxes)

The collection includes Jennifer Rader's application to Witness for Peace; travel documents; letters home (including "newsletters" sent to a variety of recipients); and letters received from United States and Guatemalan friends. Also included are documents from "tallers" (workshops) on reproductive health, youth sexual health, and women's rights (some specifically scoped for Guatemalan refugee women) and handouts in Spanish. The collection also includes a report in English from Rader about women's rights tallers she conducted, what they covered, and how they were received; a draft of a talk about Witness For Peace that she intended to give (or did) when back in the United States; letters between Witness For Peace members; and other program internal communications. Rader's journal notebooks from the time period, some of which contain diary entries about her experiences, are also included. Some journals also record meeting notes, draft correspondence, and daily lists of activities. Printed material about Guatemala is also included. The notebooks also describe a caravan of over fifty buses of refugees traveling through Guatemala, led by1992 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Rigoberta Menchu.


Jennifer Claire Rader was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1964, to Wilma Kaufman Rader and Stephen Rader. Her mother was a labor arbitrator and her father was a physician. She had a twin sister, Allison, and an older brother, Andrew. In 1967 the family relocated to the Travis Air Force Base in California, where Stephen Rader served as a flight surgeon and psychiatrist; they settled in Berkeley, California, in 1970. Rader attended Berkeley High School and then Harvard University (BA, 1987). After her sophomore year at Harvard, she spent a year traveling in India and Nepal and working at a nature field school at Ein Gedi in Israel. Upon her return to Harvard, she enrolled in a program at the Harvard School of Education, receiving a teaching certificate in 1987 along with her undergraduate degree.

Rader lived and worked in Mexico and Guatemala from 1991 to 1993. In 1992, she began working with Guatemalan Mayan refugees in Southern Mexico, as part of a Witness for Peace project. Witness for Peace, a faith-based politically independent grassroots organization dedicated to changing United States policy towards Central American countries, was founded in 1983 in response to the Reagan administration's policies towards Nicaragua. The organization gradually expanded its work beyond Nicaragua to other Latin American and Caribbean countries, responding to calls from local partners to assist people affected by United States policies and corporate practices. In her application to the Witness for Peace program, Rader wrote, "I feel a compelling interest to work with Guatemalan refugees in their Mexican context. I am excited by the tremendous strength and vibrancy of their political and social organizations, their primary and secondary schools and especially the attention paid to process in these organizations and institutions as they attempt to make difficult choices amidst the harsh conditions and stresses of life in the camps." She and the rest of the Witness for Peace team assisted the refugees, who lived in United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) refugee camps, as they organized for a return to Guatemala.

After her return from Central America in 1993, Rader received an MA in Latin American Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. She taught history and social sciences in a public high school in the San Francisco Bay Area and then initiated a health project at her public high school that she directed over twenty years. Over this time she returned to school and got an MSW (Humboldt State University), becoming a licensed clinical social worker in 2016. She remained involved with organizations working in Central American countries and in late 1996/early 1997, she coordinated a cultural exchange visit to Guatemala organized by the San Francisco Jewish Sanctuary Coalition. Rader and her wife Barb (her girlfriend at the time of her work with Witness for Peace) have two sons.

Physical Location

Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number: 2021-M42

The papers of Jennifer Claire Rader were given to the Schlesinger Library by Jennifer Claire Rader in March 2021.

Processing Information

Processed: July 2021

By: Jenny Gotwals and Susan Earle

The Schlesinger Library attempts to provide a basic level of preservation and access for all collections, and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit.  Finding aids may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description
Processing of this collection was made possible by the Alice Jeanette Ward Fund, the Carl & Lily Pforzheimer Fund, Pforzheimer Fund for the Schlesinger Library, Sybil Shainwald Fund at the Schlesinger Library, and Class of 1955 Manuscript Processing Fund.

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

3 James St.
Cambridge MA 02138 USA