She was born into the “weighty” Quaker Elkinton family of Philadelphia. Her parents, Howard (Haverford, class of 1914) and Katharine Wistar Elkinton, both descendants of notable Quaker families, were among the first to work for the newly-formed American Friends Service Committee as relief workers in France during World War I, then again in Germany during World War II, he as director of their Berlin office, while she enabled over 1,000 professional Jewish women to emigrate to Australia. They witnessed Kristallnacht and wrote letters describing it. That’s just going back one generation from the vibrant Theodora Elkinton Waring, who was born in 1927 to Howard and Katharine. She lived a comfortable life in the bosom of her loving family, attending Germantown Friends School, making friends, but when her father was sent to Germany, she and her brother, Peter, were sent to a Quaker school in Holland for the duration. After their return to America, “Dody” went back to Germantown Friends, then to Smith for two years. In the meantime, she met and married Thomas Waring after his two-year duty as a conscientious objector, 1944-46.
As a couple, they went to do relief work in Finland for refugees in Karelia in 1947. After returning to America, with a family now consisting of five children, having always been solicitous of her husband’s career needs, Dody finally went back to school, finishing her undergraduate degree, then a master of divinity from Harvard, and finally a doctorate from Boston University School of Theology in the 1980s. This education prepared her to serve as a chaplain at the New England Baptist Hospital and later at the Danbury State Hospital. Although her family life changed, she is today still surrounded by loving family and friends.
About five years ago, Rev. Elkinton Waring began sorting through a box of WWI letters from her mother, and since 2010, she says she became totally preoccupied with her family papers. Primarily, these are from her grandmother, Katharine Evans Mason, her mother, Katharine Wistar Mason Elkinton and her mother-in-law, Grace Warner Waring. The large topics are the relief work in France and later in Berlin in which her parents were engaged, and her husband, Tom Waring’s correspondence as a conscientious objector.
We were contacted in November 2011 about the potential of receiving these family treasures. Dody had by that time processed them in their entirety, including genealogical charts, photographs, documents of all sorts, and, of course, the letters. Dody came down from Massachusetts this past weekend with her granddaughter, Sarah Waring (Haverford 2001) in a mini-van packed with the 13 cartons of her treasures which were received in Special Collections. In the afternoon, there was a celebratory event with some of Dody’s family in attendance as well some staff of the college. On the following day, we were privileged to conduct an oral history interview with Rev. Elkinton Waring, which will soon be available from our website. All in all, an extraordinary weekend tied to a treasure trove collection of Elkinton and Waring family papers, which have such great potential for future scholarly use.