Legacy: Preserving History, Telling Weidner’s Story
Much of our work has centered on preserving the history and memory of John Weidner and the Dutch-Paris Line. When the Foundation was formed in 1996, we became the official archive of a large trove of invaluable primary documents and artifacts related to the Line, most collected by Weidner himself after World War II. In 2006, we transferred these vital historical materials from our original home at Atlantic Union College in Massachusetts to the Hoover Institution at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. Our work today includes continuing to expand the Weidner Collection by adding new documents, interviews, and other materials to the archive on an ongoing basis. In addition, we are working to preserve history and tell Weidner’s story through a variety of mediums, including books, articles, and films.
Education: Supporting Students and Scholars
The Weidner Foundation is not attached to any educational institution but has education as a primary objective. We offer research grants to undergraduate and graduate students conducting original research for publication using the documents in the Weidner Collection housed in the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. We also support scholars doing original research on John Weidner and the Dutch-Paris Line. Historian Megan Koreman’s book, The Escape Line, commissioned and funded by the Foundation, is a reflection of our commitment to supporting rigorous, original research on the Line.
In addition, we are committed to helping support students who are engaged in various forms of selfless action to improve the lives of others. There is currently a Weidner Chapter at Butler University in Indiana that provides an annual scholarship award to deserving Butler students engaged in altruistic activities. The recipient of the 2019 Butler Weidner Chapter scholarship is senior Ashleigh Doub. Ashleigh serves on the advisory board of a coalition of food pantries known as Faith Hope and Love and is a dispute mediator with the Catholic Worker Community in Indianapolis. Her commitment to service is directly related to her life experiences and her passion for culinary arts. “My social justice journey started in an unpredictable place: a fine dining restaurant that averages $45 a plate,” Ashleigh writes:
“I began cooking professionally at the age of fifteen and when I moved to Indianapolis to attend Butler, I logically continued that path. In the fall of 2017, the restaurant I was working at closed unexpectedly. This led to my discovery of Second Helpings, where I was able to use my culinary skills as the assistant manager of the hunger relief kitchen. This position allowed me to utilize my fine dining culinary skills to bring delicious and nutritious food to 4,000 people who were hungry in Indianapolis every day. During my time at Butler, I have experienced food insecurity. This experience made my passion for fighting food insecurity stronger. Hungry people are people. Hungry people are people who need food. These two simple sentences are the driving force behind my personal service mission. We can’t ignore the human dignity of the individuals who are hungry by solely providing nutrition. We must see them. We must acknowledge WHO they are as people, and not simply as the basal needs for their body. I am a service-minded individual, because marginalized people don’t always have the ability to fight the conditions that are impressed upon them. When I was food insecure a few months ago, I was focused on feeding my family. I was focused on the necessities, and I couldn’t expend any energy to anything else. Now, I have the time and the energy. I have the ability to advocate for those who don’t have the means to advocate for themselves or right along side those who do. I am a service-minded individual, because I care about people. I think people matter.”
Action: Making a Difference Today
The Foundation seeks not only to preserve the memory of John Weidner and the other Line members for their remarkable actions in the past but also to keep alive their spirit of humanity and to fan the flame of altruism in the present. We are currently working to establish an annual John Henry Weidner Award (more information coming soon).