The Weidner Foundation was established in 1996 by John’s wife, Naomi, to provide leadership, guidance, and support to the newly formed John Henry Weidner Center for Cultivation of the Altruistic Spirit. Originally housed at Atlantic Union College in Massachusetts, the Center served primarily as an archive of documents, artifacts, and materials related to the Dutch-Paris Line. In the Foundation’s first year, Bert Beach served as Executive Director. Between 1997 and 2018, vital leadership was also provided by Kurt Ganter and Lawrence Geraty in the roles of director and chair. For one decade, historian Alberto Sbacchi served as curator of the Weidner Collection and conducted research to write a biography of Weidner.
After Professor Sbacchi’s untimely death in 2006, the Foundation made the decision to move the Weidner Collection to the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. In 2009, the Board also commissioned historian Megan Koreman to continue Dr. Sbacchi’s work and write a book not only about Weidner but about the Dutch-Paris Line in its entirety. After years of research in more than 30 archives in both Europe and the United States, made possible through Foundation funding and exclusive access to the Weidner Collection, Professor Koreman’s book, The Escape Line, was published in 2018 by Oxford University Press. (The book was also published in Dutch under the title Gewone Helden.)
Another milestone for the Foundation occurred in April 2020 with the inaugural publication in a new series by Weidner Foundation Books. Beginning in 2005, Janet Holmes Carper had served as a volunteer translator for the Foundation, painstakingly interpreting a remarkable number of documents in the Collection. In the course of her translation work, Janet conceived and proposed to the Foundation’s then Executive Director, Kurt Ganter, the idea of a book of Weidner family correspondence. The original manuscript of The Weidners in Wartime was completed by Janet in April of 2010 but never published. Between early 2019, the Foundation worked closely with Janet to bring the book to print.
In addition to preserving the history and memory of John Weidner and the Dutch-Paris Line, the Foundation aims to support persons engaged in altruistic actions in the present, and particularly college and university students. In 2006, Foundation board member and sociology professor William Ervin helped to create the first Weidner Chapter at Butler University in Indiana. In partnership with the Indianapolis Downtown Rotary Club, the Chapter provides an annual scholarship award to two deserving Butler students. The Weidner Foundation also offers research grants to college and university students conducting research using the Weidner Collection.
In 2018, Tanja Magas was appointed Board Chair and Ronald Osborn was appointed Executive Director. The Foundation is committed to continuing to find creative new ways to share Weidner’s story and to advance our mission of “cultivating selfless and courageous action in the spirit of John Weidner and the Dutch-Paris Line.” Our next major undertakings include telling the story of Weidner and the Line as a high quality film and establishing an annual John Henry Weidner Award.
Our Officers and Board of Directors
William Ervin (Secretary)
Brent G.T. Geraty
Lawrence Geraty, Ph.D (Chair Emeritus)
Tanja Magas (Chair)
Frank Mazzaglia, Ed.D (Agent)
Stephen F. Morgan (Treasurer)
Ronald Osborn, Ph.D (Executive Director)
Ali Sahabi (President)
Our Advisory Council
Bert B. Beach, Ph.D (Chairman Emeritus)
Reinder Bruinsma, Ph.D
Eva Fogelman, Ph.D
Lourdes Gudmundsson, Ph.D
Edward Lugenbeal, Ph.D
Bob Moore, Ph.D
Ronnie Swartz, Ph.D