Papers of Eric Baker

Archive reference: Cwl EB

Eric Baker

Eric Baker was born in 1920. Already a pacifist, he joined the Society of Friends while still at school, and registered as a conscientious objector during World War II. He and his wife, Joyce, whom he met as a Young Friend in Sheffield, were appointed Joint Secretaries of the Quaker Centre in Delhi in 1946. Eric Baker pursued an academic career alongside his peace activism. He made several visits to Cyprus, Greece and Turkey between 1958 and 1975 on behalf of the Friends' Service Committee. His 1959 trip included a visit to Sicily to study the work of Danilo Dolci.

Find out more about Baker's 1958 trip to Cyprus in a story from our 100 Objects exhibition: Barbed Wire and Curfew Passes: a Friend reports on Cyprus, 1958.

Lawyer Peter Benenson was a key contact in Cyprus; he and Baker shared concerns about those imprisoned for their beliefs. Eric Baker played an important part in the founding of Amnesty (later Amnesty International) by Benenson in 1961 following the overwhelming response to the latter's article in the Observer. Baker was acting Director-General of Amnesty from 1967-1968, after Benenson's resignation, and chairman of the British section of Amnesty International from 1965 to 1971. In 1973, he organised the Conference for the Abolition of Torture, held in Paris, following the publication of Amnesty's first report on the subject ("Report on torture". Duckworth, 1973), and in 1974, he addressed the Friends Yearly Meeting at York on "The Contagion of Torture". Following his death in 1976, a world gathering of Friends in Canada responded to the concern, commending it for action to all Friends in The Hamilton Declaration.

The Archive

One of the Commonweal Archives, it includes:

  • Visits to Cyprus, Greece, Turkey, Malta and Sicily (Danilo Dolci): correspondence, photographs, notebooks, reports and press cuttings.
  • Amnesty International: mainly correspondence, and particularly with, or concerning, Se├ín MacBride.
  • Campaign against torture: mainly correspondence, some press coverage.

The Archive was originally catalogued as part of the PaxCat Project, with support from the National Cataloguing Grants Programme for Archives.  Further cataloguing has since been carried out in response to user demand.

Catalogue of the Papers of Eric Baker