Legacy: Preserving History, Telling Weidner’s Story
Much of our work has centered on preserving the history and memory of John Weidner and the Dutch-Paris Line. When the Foundation was formed in 1996, we became the official archive of a large trove of invaluable primary documents and artifacts related to the Line, most collected by Weidner himself after World War II. In 2006, we transferred these vital historical materials from our original home at Atlantic Union College in Massachusetts to the Hoover Institution at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. Our work today includes continuing to expand the Weidner Collection by adding new documents, interviews, and other materials to the archive on an ongoing basis. In addition, we are working to preserve history and tell Weidner’s story through a variety of mediums, including books, articles, and films.
Education: Supporting Students and Scholars
The Weidner Foundation is not attached to any educational institution but has education as a primary objective. We offer research grants to undergraduate and graduate students conducting original research for publication using the documents in the Weidner Collection housed in the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. We also support scholars doing original research on John Weidner and the Dutch-Paris Line. Historian Megan Koreman’s book, The Escape Line, commissioned and funded by the Foundation, is a reflection of our commitment to supporting rigorous, original research on the Line.
In addition, we are committed to helping support students who are engaged in various forms of selfless action to improve the lives of others. There is currently a Weidner Chapter at Butler University in Indiana that provides an annual scholarship award to deserving Butler students engaged in altruistic activities.
Reagan Wohlford, a junior from Huntington, Indiana, is the recipient of the 2020-2021 John Henry Weidner Endowed Scholarship for Altruism in recognition of her extensive voluntarism. Wohlford, a Biology major with minors in Chemistry, Neuroscience, and Spanish, has devoted considerable time volunteering in the community with IndyHumane, Paws and Think, the Food Recovery Network, and Nora’s Neighbors. With IndyHumane, Wohlford serves as an Advanced Canine Companion, which involves training dogs in need of advanced behavior modifications. With Paws and Think, Wohlford led a series of projects aimed at introducing people to the organization’s mission and cultivating relationships. She currently serves as the Service Coordinator to extend the organization’s reach to include Butler students. In partnership with the Julian Center, the Food Recovery Network seeks to reduce hunger and food waste by recovering perishable food that would otherwise go to waste in campus dining facilities. Nora’s Neighbors is a student-led homework assistance organization. Given that many of the students involved in this program do not speak English as their first language, Wohlford noted that this experience has helped in her Spanish studies.
In Wohlford’s own words, “These are skills that I will value even after I leave Butler and try to become an active citizen in any community that I become a part of. I know this because so much of my life now is devoted to how I can best serve others, and as I begin the career search for after graduation, I am looking for community-oriented organization where I can help people in need. Serving individual organizations is vital but having the leadership skills to encourage others to get involved in their communities will be my biggest takeaway from my time at Butler University. I have the knowledge of how my actions influence the world around me and the aptitude to implement change when I see a need. This is Butler’s legacy on me, and for that I will be forever grateful.”
The recipient of the 2019-2020 Butler Weidner Award was senior Ashleigh Doub.
Action: Making a Difference Today
The Foundation seeks not only to preserve the memory of John Weidner and the other Line members for their remarkable actions in the past but also to keep alive their spirit of humanity and to fan the flame of altruism in the present. We are now working to establish an endowed annual John Henry Weidner Award to support individuals and groups engaged in rescue work for persecuted people today (more information coming soon).