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Inventory of the Ginetta Sagan papers
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Accruals
  • Related Materials
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Index of Major Groups

  • Title: Ginetta Sagan papers
    Date (inclusive): 1941-2006
    Collection Number: 83017
    Contributing Institution: Hoover Institution Archives
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 343 manuscript boxes, 4 oversize boxes, 4 card file boxes, 1 oversize folder, 2 phonorecords, digital files (148.1 linear feet)
    Abstract: Memoirs, correspondence, minutes, financial records, press releases, reports, interview transcripts, notes, lists, questionnaires, news dispatches, printed matter, and audiovisual material relating to civil liberties, political prisoners, and refugees, especially in Vietnam and Cambodia. Includes records of the Aurora Foundation, Amnesty International, and Humanitas.
    Physical Location: Hoover Institution Archives
    Creator: Sagan, Ginetta


    Collection is open for research.

    Collection stored off site; a minimum of two days notice is required for use. Boxes may be requested through Stanford's online catalog at http://searchworks.stanford.edu/ 

    Use copies of some videorecordings are available. To listen to sound recordings or to view other videos or films during your visit, please contact the Archives at least two working days before your arrival. We will then advise you of the accessibility of the material you wish to see or hear. Please note that not all audiovisual material is immediately accessible.

    Publication Rights

    For copyright status, please contact the Hoover Institution Archives.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Ginetta Sagan papers, [Box number], Hoover Institution Archives.

    Acquisition Information

    Acquired by the Hoover Institution Archives in multiple increments between 1983 and 2011.


    Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. To determine if this has occurred, find the collection in Stanford University's online catalog at http://searchworks.stanford.edu/ . Materials have been added to the collection if the number of boxes listed in the online catalog is larger than the number of boxes listed in this finding aid.

    Related Materials

    Amnesty International of the USA, Inc.: National Office records, Columbia University
    Giuliana Beltrami papers, Hoover Institution Archives
    Rose Burgunder Styron interview, Hoover Institution Archives
    Stanford University, Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research, Records, Stanford University Archives
    Zbigniew Romaszewski papers, Hoover Institution Archives

    Biographical Note

    American human rights advocate; West Coast coordinator, Amnesty International; vice president, Humanitas; executive director, Aurora Foundation.
    Ginetta Sagan was born Teresa Moroni in San Colombano al Lambro, Italy on June 1, 1923. In September 1943, she joined the Italian anti-fascist group Giustizia e Libertà, delivering copies of underground newspapers and gathering intelligence on the location and status of partisan prisoners. After the war, during which she sustained injuries, she recuperated at the Casa di Cura Vallesana in Sondalo, Italy. In 1949, she moved to Paris, France, where she lived at the residence of Joshua G. B. Campbell, a banker and former American Field Service ambulance driver, referred to in her papers as "Papi." She studied psychology at the Sorbonne and met the professor Georges Verdeaux, a specialist in electroencephalography (EEG), who referred her to study psychology at the University of Illinois-Chicago.
    In September 1951, she moved to Illinois and met Leonard Sagan, a Stanford graduate studying medicine at the University of Chicago. The two married on March 14, 1952 and had three sons. In 1961, the Sagan family moved to Nagasaki, Japan, where Leonard worked as the medical department chief of the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission. During this time, Ginetta volunteered at an orphanage and organized events for local children. The family returned to the United States in 1964 and, after a year in Boston where Leonard studied at Harvard, the family settled in Washington, D.C. Ginetta continued her volunteer work and joined Amnesty International in 1967.
    Leonard Sagan accepted a position at the Palo Alto Medical Clinic and the family moved to Atherton, California in 1968. Shortly after, Ginetta founded the first Amnesty International chapter on the west coast. Formally recognized as Group 19 by Amnesty in 1971, Sagan's group provided the basis for Amnesty's Western Regional Office. Within the following year, Sagan established Amnesty's Urgent Action direct mailing campaign, the First Appeal Pledge Program, and organized a benefit concert for Greek prisoners of conscience with Joan Baez and Melina Mercouri. Baez, who became a lifelong friend of Sagan, described their working relationship in her 1987 memoir And a Voice to Sing With.
    After her successes on the west coast, Sagan was appointed to the national board of directors of Amnesty International USA. She served twice: from 1973 to 1976 and again from 1983 to 1987. In her first term, she co-organized the first conference for Amnesty's Campaign for the Abolition of Torture, assisted prisoners of conscience in Chile and Argentina, and co-founded AIUSA's newsletter Matchbox. In her second term, she chaired the 25th anniversary committee and organized concerts and other fundraisers.
    In 1979, Joan Baez appointed Sagan to the board of directors of Humanitas, a human-rights organization dedicated to assisting Vietnamese refugees and other individuals outside Amnesty's mandate. Under the auspices of Humanitas, Sagan travelled to Paris to interview former prisoners of Vietnamese reeducation camps, including Doan Van Toai, author of Le Goulag vietnamien. The oral histories and documentation she collected provided the basis for her 1983 report, Violations of Human Rights in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, April 30, 1975 - April 30, 1983. Sagan published a revised edition in 1989.
    In April 1981, Sagan established the Aurora Foundation to research human rights violations and assist victims in Poland and Vietnam. Sagan made two trips to Poland in 1985 and 1987 to meet Solidarity members Lech Wałęsa, Henryk Jankowski, and Zbigniew Romaszewski. Working closely with Barbara Piasecka Johnson, Sagan provided financial assistance to Solidarity members and their families. In 1987, Sagan honored Romaszewski with an Aurora Foundation award for human rights. Held at Stanford's Memorial Church, the ceremony featured Czesław Miłosz accepting the award on Romaszewski's behalf.
    From 1986 to 1990, Sagan was a research scholar at Stanford's Institute for the Study of Women and Gender, where she researched the role of women in the Italian resistance and drafted a memoir of her World War II years. Although neither work was ever completed, Sagan later self-published a book of recipes and essays in 1994, Ginetta Sagan: A Culinary Biography (Box 254).
    Until her death in 2000, Sagan served as executive director of the Aurora Foundation and activist for Amnesty International. Named honorary chair of Amnesty International USA in 1994, Sagan established Amnesty's Ginetta Sagan Fund, which continues to give an annual award for outstanding achievement in human rights.
    For her service during World War II and her human rights activism, Sagan was awarded the following: La croce al merito di Guerra, Italy (1968); Italo-American Woman of the Year (1980); honorary doctorate, Starr King School (1981); Jefferson Award (1987); Albert Schweitzer Award from Chapman College (1990); Grande Ufficiale Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana (1995); the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom (1996); and the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland (2010).

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The papers document the life and work of human rights activist Ginetta Sagan through memoirs, oral history interviews, correspondence, press releases, reports, transcripts, notes, lists, questionnaires, news dispatches, printed matter, videos, and sound recordings. Sagan's papers also contain records of three different human rights organizations: Amnesty International, founded in 1961 by Peter Benenson; Humanitas, founded in 1979 by Joan Baez; and the Aurora Foundation, founded in 1981 by Ginetta Sagan.
    Acquired in more than twenty separate increments from 1983 to 2011, the papers remain in the order received from the donor. When available, original folder titles have been retained. An index to major groups represented in Sagan's papers is included in this inventory; researchers should note, however, that not all items fall within the groups listed. The bulk of Sagan's papers consists of Aurora Foundation and Amnesty International records, as well as Vietnam research materials used to write two editions of Violations of Human Rights in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
    Sagan researched human rights violations throughout the world, but her activism, fundraising, and writing were focused primarily on prisoners of conscience in Cambodia, Chile, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Poland, and Vietnam. These materials include correspondence, interview transcripts, research materials, and writings documenting human rights violations. Of particular interest are sound recordings and video tapes of activists Joan Baez, Lech Wałęsa, François Ponchaud, and former prisoners of Vietnamese reeducation camps.
    As a scholar at Stanford University's Institute for Research on Women and Gender from 1986 to 1990, Sagan researched the role of women in the Italian resistance during World War II, materials of which can be found in the Italian resistance research group.
    Received in 2011, boxes 282 to 351 and oversize materials in box 93 contain the last increment to Ginetta Sagan's papers. This portion of the collection was assembled by Sim Smiley, a researcher hired by the Aurora Foundation to document Sagan's life. Comprised mainly of biographical materials such as oral history transcripts, photographs, correspondence, and memoirs, the papers provide more comprehensive documentation of Sagan's World War II years. The last increment also contains research materials on Vietnam, the Italian resistance, and Aurora Foundation records.

    Index of Major Groups

    The papers are in the order in which they were received from the donor. All materials, with the exception of sound and video recordings, are in labelled folders. Most of the materials in the collection fall into the following record groups.
    Box Nos. Groups
    12-14, 19-61, 65-66, 68-72, 77, 82, 84-95, 99-138, 140-142, 149-153, 155-161, 167-181, 184, 199-224, 228-230, 232, 233, 240-246, 256, 258, 260, 264, 316, 328, 329, 337, 338, 342, 343, 345-349 Amnesty International files, 1963-2000. Contains correspondence, financial records, memoranda, board minutes, reports, clippings, collected articles, photographs, and printed matter. See also: Sound recordings and Video tapes.
    45, 68, 70, 74-77, 98, 100-103, 139-148, 154-155, 159-161, 166-17, 176, 178, 180-181, 199-202, 206-209, 211-215, 217, 218, 222-228, 232, 243, 246-248, 255-258, 260, 265-279, 330-337, 339-343, 345-349, 351, Map case Aurora Foundation files, 1968-2006. Contains correspondence, notes and writings by Ginetta Sagan, drafts of speeches, financial records, memoranda, board minutes, reports, clippings, collected articles, and printed matter documenting the establishment and administration of the Foundation.
    9, 33, 40, 93, 96, 97, 100, 105, 112, 117, 140, 149, 151, 153, 170, 173-175, 180-182, 199-210, 212-214, 217, 218, 222-224, 229, 232, 240, 243, 246, 254-258, 260, 279, 282-287, 291-239, 314-322, 351 Biographical files, 1940s-2000. Contains clippings, correspondence, oral history transcripts, memoirs, notes, and resumes documenting the life and activism of Ginetta Sagan. Some files were assembled by Sim Smiley, a researcher authorized by the Aurora Foundation. See also: Sound recordings and Video tapes.
    10-12, 18, 54, 62, 139, 173, 180, 228, 231, 233, 251 Cambodia files, 1977-1984. Includes correspondence, clippings, collected articles, reports and an interview with François Ponchaud, author of Cambodia: Year Zero.
    1-3, 53, 77, 173, 179, 202, 257 Czechoslovakia files, 1976-1987. Includes correspondence, trial transcripts, printed matter, and clippings, mainly related to the persecution of Charta 77 activists.
    13, 85, 86, 119, 164, 184, 199, 202, 208, 233, 246, 316, 344 Greece files, 1967-1991. Includes correspondence, reports, printed matter, and clippings related mainly to prisoners of the Greek military junta from 1967 to 1974.
    14, 15, 34, 140-142, 147, 151, 160, 180, 181, 200, 206, 210, 224, 228, 242, 303, 317 Humanitas files, 1976-1981. Includes correspondence, press releases, clippings, and memoranda documenting the founding and administration of the human rights organization founded by Joan Baez.
    77, 170, 177, 180, 199-206, 213, 216, 217, 232, 240, 242, 245, 246 Italian Resistance research, 1941-2000. Includes research materials, particularly photocopies of Office of Strategic Services files from the U.S. National Archives, on Italian resistance movements during World War II.
    15, 19, 26, 29, 40, 66, 69, 71, 83, 102, 107, 114, 126, 136, 140, 146, 149, 154, 161, 167, 171, 174, 179, 199-208, 211-214, 217, 218, 222, 223, 228, 232, 233, 240-242, 245, 255-257, 261, 263, 266, 276, 277, 289, 291, 292, 299, 300, 313-319, 322, 331, 335, 339, 346, 348 Photographs, 1940s-2000. Contains photographic prints, negatives, and proofsheets depicting Ginetta Sagan, her family and friends, and Aurora Foundation and Amnesty International events.
    3, 63, 69, 77, 81, 101, 141, 147, 148, 150, 153, 154, 170, 171, 174, 176, 213, 214, 222, 223, 240, 246, 255, 261, 266, 319, 332, 339-340 Poland files, 1983-1996. Includes correspondence, lists of prisoners, trip summaries, financial records, clippings, and printed matter primarily related to persecution of Solidarity members and their families. Includes documentation on Barbara Piasecka Johnson, Zbigniew Romaszewski, and Lech Wałęsa. See also: Sound recordings and Video tapes.
    12, 33, 81, 122, 155, 170, 180, 199, 204, 206, 211, 238, 250, 262, 263 Sound recordings, 1973-1992, undated. Includes compact sound cassettes, microcassettes, and vinyl disks comprised mainly of interviews and oral histories. Unless otherwise indicated, all sound recordings on container list are on compact sound cassette.
    79-81, 203, 207, 217, 222, 223, 235, 236, 238, 239, 249, 250-254, 341 Video tapes, 1980-1999. Includes VHS, Betacam, and U-Matic tapes. Unless otherwise indicated, all video tapes on container list are on VHS.
    1, 4-11, 17, 62, 64, 66, 67, 72-73, 78, 82, 83, 112, 115, 117, 158-164, 168, 171, 173, 175, 177-184, 202-205, 208-212, 224, 225-229, 242, 242, 254, 267-301-312, Map case Vietnam research materials, 1968-1992. Contains transcripts, correspondence, notebooks, clippings, collected articles, printed matter, reports, and memorabilia mainly used to write two editions of Violations of Human Rights in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. See also: Aurora Foundation and Amnesty International.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Amnesty International.
    Aurora Foundation.
    Civil rights--Cambodia.
    Civil rights--Vietnam.
    Civil rights.
    Political prisoners--Vietnam.
    Video tapes.