World War I -- Life Histories/Section 019/Howard Haines Lowry

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Overview[edit]

Howard Haines Lowry was a Philadelphian Quaker who served in World War I in a non-combatant position. He was a husband to Margret Erwin Holt Lowry and a father to Margret Holt Lowry Butler.

Biography[edit]

In 1878, Howard Haines Lowry was born in Philadelphia into a Quaker family. He married Margret Erwin Holt Lowry. Together they had a daughter, named Margret Holt Lowry Butler. He was employed as a secretary-treasurer in a family company, an assistant manager at an investment firm, and a physical director in the Y.M.C.A. in France during World War I. His time in the war negatively affected his health, and in 1922 he died unexpectedly[1].

Education[edit]

As a boy, Lowry studied at the William Penn Charter School. In 1899, he attended college at Haverford College. Lowry earned an additional B.A. from Harvard University in 1900 [2].

Career[edit]

After his schooling, Lowry filled the position of secretary-treasurer at his grandfather’s cotton-finishing firm, Coulter & Lowry, for ten years. He was then employed by William P. Bonbright & Company, an investment firm. In 1918, Lowry left this employer to aid the war effort by joining the Y.M.C.A. as a volunteer in a non-combatant position[3]. The Y.M.C.A. stationed him in France and tasked him with the job of physical director. As Lowry writes to his wife, “his job is to get the men playing all sorts of games, with or without apparatus, and we are learning loads of them. The big idea is to get them interested in something or anything outside the deadly routine of military duty; to make them forget grievances, real or imaginary, and to cheer them up generally” [4]. Information about his wartime experience is conveyed through letters of correspondence to his family and friends[5].

Social Issues[edit]

Quakers in the War[edit]

In accordance with their beliefs, Quakers typically refrain from participating in warfare[6]. Lowry was able to reconcile his principles and his service through a non-combatant position. Despite his background, Lowry had a strong commitment to the war effort. After the war ended, Lowry showed that he was interested in volunteering more time by writing the following lines to his wife “ Of course everybody wants to go home now that the fighting is over, but…I want to feel I have contributed whatever is the best I can, and the Y is surely entitled to have me until March, if he wants me”[7]. Other Quakers dealt with this conflict of interest differently, many became conscientious objectors[8]. “’Conscientious Objection’ originated in sects such as the Society of Friends (whose members were better known as ‘Quakers’) that refused to bear arms on account of their distinctive religious scruples”[9]. Others, however, sought to bring peace and calm in the confusion of war[10]. They served through organizations such as the Friends Ambulance Unit and the American Friends Service Committee [11]. The American Friends Service Committee considered their actions to be "‘a service of love in wartime’"[12].

YMCA in the War[edit]

The YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) was created in June 6th, 1844 as an alternative to the “temptations [of]… alcohol, prostitution, and other vices” [13] that the Industrial Revolution introduced to society. The self-proclaimed goal of this organization was to "evangelize the world in a generation"[14]. By the time of the Great War, they sought to do this not through conversion, but through promoting Christian values. When war broke out over Europe, the YMCA served the world as a neutral force that worked to improve the conditions of soldiers[15]. The YMCA worked to be a place of relief for all “soldiers at the front, wounded troops, and prisoners of war from all nations”[16]. The YMCA served all nations even those that were belligerent[17].To achieve this goal, they created many programs for the men from Lowry’s recreational program to lending libraries. These programs addressed the different needs of the soldiers. Lowry cheered them up and the library reminded soldiers of their place outside of warfare[18]. “'[R]eality' remained firmly rooted at home, and soldiers 'continued to be engrossed in the day-to-day lives of their families and friends.' A key means of maintaining these bonds was the act of reading… [B]ooks brought or sent from home allowed soldiers to maintain ties with their prewar civilian identities”[19].

References[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

Ceadel, Martin. "Pacifism and Conscientious Objection." World War One. British Library, n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2015.

Foot, Michael. "Challenging Militarism." Editorial. The Guardian [London] 17 Apr. 1987: 11. ProQuest Historical Newspapers. Guardian News & Media Limited, 04 June 2010. Web. 26 Feb. 2015.

Frost, J. William. "Modernist and Liberal Quakers, 1887–2010." Oxford Handbooks Online. 2013-12-16. Oxford University Press. Web. 18 Mar. 2015.

Healey, Robynne Rogers. "Quietist Quakerism, 1692–c.1805." Oxford Handbooks Online. 2013-12-16. Oxford University Press. Web. 18 Mar. 2015.

King, Edmund G. C. "E. W. Hornung's Unpublished "Diary," The YMCA, And The Reading Soldier In The First World War." English Literature In Transition, 1880-1920 57.3 (2014): 361-387. Academic Search Premier. Web. 23 Mar. 2015.

Lowry, Howard Haines, Margaret Erwin Holt Lowry, and Margaret Holt Lowry. Butler. Letters to Tweeters: A Memorial to Howard Haines Lowry and Margaret Erwin Holt Lowry. Westport, Ct.: Eidolon, 1980. Print.

Martin, Flanagan. “Friends indeed: the Quaker quest for peace and quiet.” Age, The (Melbourne) 25 Feb. 2012: 20. Newspaper Source Plus. Web. 23 Feb. 2015.

Steuer, Kenneth. Pursuit of an '"Unparalleled Opportunity": The American YMCA and Prisoner-of-war Diplomacy among the Central Power Nations during World War I, 1914-1923. New York: Columbia University Press, 2009. Print.

  1. Lowry, Howard Haines, Margaret Erwin Holt Lowry, and Margaret Holt Lowry. Butler. Letters to Tweeters: A Memorial to Howard Haines Lowry and Margaret Erwin Holt Lowry. Westport, Ct.: Eidolon, 1980. Print.
  2. Lowry, Howard Haines, Margaret Erwin Holt Lowry, and Margaret Holt Lowry. Butler. Letters to Tweeters: A Memorial to Howard Haines Lowry and Margaret Erwin Holt Lowry. Westport, Ct.: Eidolon, 1980. Print.
  3. Lowry, Howard Haines, Margaret Erwin Holt Lowry, and Margaret Holt Lowry. Butler. Letters to Tweeters: A Memorial to Howard Haines Lowry and Margaret Erwin Holt Lowry. Westport, Ct.: Eidolon, 1980. Print.
  4. Lowry, Howard Haines, Margaret Erwin Holt Lowry, and Margaret Holt Lowry. Butler. Letters to Tweeters: A Memorial to Howard Haines Lowry and Margaret Erwin Holt Lowry. Westport, Ct.: Eidolon, 1980. Print.
  5. Lowry, Howard Haines, Margaret Erwin Holt Lowry, and Margaret Holt Lowry. Butler. Letters to Tweeters: A Memorial to Howard Haines Lowry and Margaret Erwin Holt Lowry. Westport, Ct.: Eidolon, 1980. Print.
  6. Healey, Robynne Rogers. "Quietist Quakerism, 1692–c.1805." Oxford Handbooks Online. 2013-12-16. Oxford University Press. Web. 18 Mar. 2015.
  7. Lowry, Howard Haines, Margaret Erwin Holt Lowry, and Margaret Holt Lowry. Butler. Letters to Tweeters: A Memorial to Howard Haines Lowry and Margaret Erwin Holt Lowry. Westport, Ct.: Eidolon, 1980. Print.
  8. Ceadel, Martin. "Pacifism and Conscientious Objection." World War One. British Library, n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2015.
  9. Ceadel, Martin. "Pacifism and Conscientious Objection." World War One. British Library, n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2015.
  10. Foot, Michael. "Challenging Militarism." Editorial. The Guardian [London] 17 Apr. 1987: 11. ProQuest Historical Newspapers. Guardian News & Media Limited, 04 June 2010. Web. 26 Feb. 2015.
  11. Frost, J. William. "Modernist and Liberal Quakers, 1887–2010." Oxford Handbooks Online. 2013-12-16. Oxford University Press. Web. 18 Mar. 2015.
  12. Frost, J. William. "Modernist and Liberal Quakers, 1887–2010." Oxford Handbooks Online. 2013-12-16. Oxford University Press. Web. 18 Mar. 2015.
  13. Steuer, Kenneth. Pursuit of an '"Unparalleled Opportunity": The American YMCA and Prisoner-of-war Diplomacy among the Central Power Nations during World War I, 1914-1923. New York: Columbia University Press, 2009. Print.
  14. Steuer, Kenneth. Pursuit of an '"Unparalleled Opportunity": The American YMCA and Prisoner-of-war Diplomacy among the Central Power Nations during World War I, 1914-1923. New York: Columbia University Press, 2009. Print.
  15. Steuer, Kenneth. Pursuit of an '"Unparalleled Opportunity": The American YMCA and Prisoner-of-war Diplomacy among the Central Power Nations during World War I, 1914-1923. New York: Columbia University Press, 2009. Print.
  16. Steuer, Kenneth. Pursuit of an '"Unparalleled Opportunity": The American YMCA and Prisoner-of-war Diplomacy among the Central Power Nations during World War I, 1914-1923. New York: Columbia University Press, 2009. Print.
  17. Steuer, Kenneth. Pursuit of an '"Unparalleled Opportunity": The American YMCA and Prisoner-of-war Diplomacy among the Central Power Nations during World War I, 1914-1923. New York: Columbia University Press, 2009. Print.
  18. King, Edmund G. C. "E. W. Hornung's Unpublished "Diary," The YMCA, And The Reading Soldier In The First World War." English Literature In Transition, 1880-1920 57.3 (2014): 361-387. Academic Search Premier. Web. 23 Mar. 2015.
  19. King, Edmund G. C. "E. W. Hornung's Unpublished "Diary," The YMCA, And The Reading Soldier In The First World War." English Literature In Transition, 1880-1920 57.3 (2014): 361-387. Academic Search Premier. Web. 23 Mar. 2015.