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twisted elaborately about her head, must have

Powers. Though the United States conceived of

created a stir in the press box. But her experiences

the idea for the League of Nations and signed the

in Geneva twenty years earlier made her uniquely

covenant, it never officially joined. However, the

qualified for the job. There she had watched

country was an active participant in the United

the proceedings with great emotion and closely

Nations. World War II had taught Americans an

observed the League members and what she

important lesson. They could no longer remain

called “those countenances, indicators of the inner

neutral bystanders in a troubled world.

motions of the Mind revolving there—to maintain Oakley was delighted with her joint role as artist

order, control passion, develop understanding,

and documentarian and enjoyed the trappings

and preserve Life on this Planet.”17 From her

that came with her newspaper credentials. “I have

notes and sketches, she made formal drawings

never before been a newspaper representative,”

of many of the participants and would return

she said, “and I find my Press button and all Press

again during September and October in 1928 and

privileges very impressive and important, and I am

1929 to continue her study making. In 1932, the

enjoying them to the full.”19 As a member of the

portraits were published in a portfolio titled “Law

press, she was entitled to join the other journalists


in the press box, where limited seating was The need for a collective body of representatives

available on a first-come, first-served basis. Using

from the world’s nations was first proposed on

her maturity and gender to her advantage, she

January 8, 1918, as part of President Woodrow

was often provided with a prime location despite

Wilson’s “Fourteen Points” message laying

the box being full. On one occasion, she noted

out the conditions to achieve world peace.

that “‘the house’ was packed, but the polite usher

Closing the list, point fourteen states, “A general

gave me a good seat, right in the middle bloc

association of nations should be formed on the

reserved for ‘distinguished guests’ of the different

basis of covenants designed to create mutual

Delegations.”20 She also enjoyed sitting next to

guarantees of the political independence and

international journalists who seemed intrigued by

territorial integrity of States, large and small

her presence and she in theirs. The London Times

equally.”18 The first session of the Council of the

reporter “proved very interesting and interested

League of Nations met in Paris on January 16,

and asked many questions.” But, she noted with a

1920, seven months after the Treaty of Versailles

note of superiority, he “had not been at Geneva.”21

ended the war between Germany and the Allied 11

The Promise of Peace: Violet Oakley's United Nations Portraits  

The Oakley portraits showcase her lifelong dedication to the promotion of peace and world harmony. One of the great artists of Philadelphia,...

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