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H88-0107. Muste, Abraham J. (1885-1967). Papers, 1904-2019. 7.75 linear ft.

Identifier: H88-0107

Scope and Contents

Personal library contains Muste's marginalia and comments.


  • 1904 - 2019



Abraham Johannes Muste was born in Zierkzee, Zeeland, the Netherlands, in 1885. The family immigrated to America and settled in Grand Rapids in 1891. He was admitted to Hope Preparatory School in 1898, the youngest student at that time. He transferred to Hope College in 1902 and graduated after only three years at the age of twenty.

Muste was a very active student while at Hope. He won the Michigan state oratorical contest, edited the Anchor, captained the Flying Dutchman basketball teams, which won two state of Michigan championships, and was valedictorian of his graduating class of 1905.

The year 1909 was very important for Muste. That was when he graduated from the New Brunswick Theological Seminary, married Anna Huizenga in Rock Valley, Iowa, was ordained in the Reformed Church in America, and installed as first minister of the Fort Washington Collegiate Church in New York City.

Muste was the ultimate pacifist and protested against every major war of this century while he lived. He joined the Fellowship of Reconciliation, an inter-faith pacifist organization in 1916. In 1917, he resigned from the Central Congregational Church due to his pacifistic views, and the following year led the Lawrence, Massachusetts, textile workers strike. Among the many places he has protested are famous landmarks like Red Square in Moscow, the United Nations, Times Square, and the White House.

It is also telling that despite disappointment over his son's desire to enlist in the Navy at the age of 17, Muste honored his son's wishes and signed the enlistment papers.

Muste has had an impact on major figures in the peace movement and many called him the "American Gandhi." The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. was a college student when he first heard Muste speak. The fact that the struggle for civil rights in this country has been so bloodless when compared to some other areas of the world is largely attributable to Muste.

In 1948, Muste stopped paying federal income tax due to the fact that they were used to finance the machineries of war. Every year he sent a package to the Internal Revenue Service containing the following items: a Bible, a copy of Henry Thoreau's "Essay on Civil Disobedience," and a three-page typewritten paper outlining the principles that prevented him from making a contribution to the armaments of the United States. It wasn't until 1961 that the United States Tax Court ruled that the government had a right to back taxes but collection against Muste's small retirement income was never attempted.

A. J. Muste passed away 1967.


7.75 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Labor leader and pacifist. Articles by and about Muste, clippings, exchange of letters with Irwin J. Lubbers concerning hiring a conscientious objector, tape of memorial service at Hope College, 1967; MS: "Abraham Johannes Muste, 1885 1967," student paper by John Mulder '67; "The Annual Muste Lecture," by Jo Ann Robinson; letters of condolence; more articles and pamphlets by and about A. J. Muste; clippings, and extra copies of Liberation, a periodical edited by A. J. Muste; gift from John Muste; film elements and film for A. J. Muste: Radical for Peace, Part I: The Early Years by David Schock, 2019; Gandhi Quotes, 1925-1926, 1940-1944 books from A. J. Muste's library that bear his personal notes. Detailed Collection Register available.


Abraham Johannes Muste


4 images (Box 1)



Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Joint Archives of Holland Repository

Theil Research Center
9 East 10th Street
Holland Michigan 49423 United States