Mary Ellen Hombs papers
Collection Scope and Content
This collection contains correspondence, reports, photographs, articles, flyers, and court documents. The material dates from 1971-86. The collection includes material typical of an organization, especially one involved with promoting itself and the issues it found most compelling. A good portion of the material in this collection appears to have served as publicity for the work done by the Community for Creative Non-violence (CCNV), including newspaper articles about the group and form letters that may have been used for mass mailings. The material relates to specific topics and can provide a look what types of issues the organization dealt with, including those dealing with food and its procurement for the shelter and also the condition of the different shelters in the city. The people most closely associated with CCNV is Mitch Snyder and Carol Fennelly.
- Creation: 1971-1986
- Hombs, Mary Ellen (Person)
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Restrictions on Use
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The materials within the collection relate to the work of the Community for Creative Non-Violence (CCNV) of which Mary Ellen Hombs was a member. From the early 1970s to the early 1990s, CCNV was a major force in the movement to protect the rights of homeless people in Washington D.C. Currently, the CCNV runs a homeless shelter in the city and is very involved in providing food, shelter, and educational opportunities for the poor and homeless in the city.
In a 1981 Washington Post article Mary Ellen Hombs stated her goal as a member of CCVN as wanting to " . . . persuade the churches and the District government to provide shelters in every area of the city, shelters attractive enough 'so that even the most isolated, the most hardened person could feel the desire to come out of the cold". These records give researchers a detailed introduction to CCNV actions especially the non-violent social protest tactics specifically hunger strikes, marches, and sit-ins used by CCNV to present their message to the public.
Founded in the early 1970s by Father Ed Guinan and a group of George Washington University students, CCNV was an activist organization opposed to the Vietnam War. As the war ended, the group began focusing its efforts on the needs of the poor and homeless in the D.C. community. Specifically in 1972, CCNV opened a drop-in center that served meals to homeless people. CCNV quickly followed this meal service with a free medical clinic, a hospitality house for people awaiting trial, and eventually an overnight shelter.
By 1976, CCNV had taken on the dual role of providing shelter for the homeless and making the Washington homeless more visible. They became well known for acts of civil disobedience meant to draw attention to the issue of homelessness in Washington, D.C. For example, in 1981, CCNV erected a tent village in Lafayette Park that they named Reaganville. The tents were meant to symbolize the plight of the homeless in the city. CCNV also erected a symbolic graveyard with 45 white crosses for each of the 45 street people who had died in Washington in the previous five years. Mitch Snyder is perhaps the most well known member of CCNV. His acts of civil disobedience, including several hunger strikes, garnered publicity. He was the subject of a television movie in 1986 staring Martin Sheen. After his death in 1990, the Community for Creative Non-Violence held less protests and focused more on the running of its shelter. The current CCNV mission is " . . . to ensure that the rights of the homeless and poor are not infringed upon and that every person has access to life's basic essentials-food, shelter, clothing and medical care." Today CCNV provides shelter, food, clothing, medical care, and educational support for up to 2,500 people per day in Washington D.C.
1.5 Linear Feet
Language of Materials
Collection contains correspondence, reports, photographs, articles, flyers, and court documents. The material dates from 1971-86. The collection includes material typical of an organization especially one involved with promoting itself and the issues it found most compelling. A good portion of the material in this collection appear to have served as publicity for the work done by the Community for Creative Non-violence (CCNV) including newspaper articles about the group and form letters they wrote that were probably used for mass mailings.
Organized into nine series: Conference, Correspondence, Court cases, Ephemera, Graphics, Publications, Publicity, Speeches and statements, and Subjects.
Mary Ellen Hombs donated this collection in 1995.
This finding aid was revised in 2022 to address harmful descriptive language. During that revision staff edited the description in the Collection Biographical/Historical Note and the Scope and Contents Note. To see the description prior to revisions, please view the previous version of the Mary Ellen Hombs papers finding aid.
- Community for Creative Non-violence (Washington, D.C.) (Organization)
- Hombs, Mary Ellen (Person)
- Snyder, Mitch (Person)
- Guide to the Mary Ellen Hombs papers, 1971-1986
- Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English