Press Releases

TitleStudy Shows Power of P.O.W. Wives
ContactLiz Harman
Contact E-mailharman, at
Contact Phone(619) 260-4682

Steven L. Smith, doctoral candidate at the University of San Diego School of Leadership and Education Sciences, defends his dissertation titled “The Reluctant Sorority” Thursday, April 13, at 10 a.m. at Manchester Conference Center. Smith, a former Navy chaplain, has studied the stories of American wives of prisoners of war (POW) and missing in action (MIA) from 1965-1973, and has explored the links between their public actions on behalf of their husbands and the shifts in governmental policy.

Smith’s research shows the wives, who named themselves the reluctant sorority, had a significant impact on reversing the State Department’s policy of “quiet diplomacy” and on keeping the POW/MIA issue in the forefront during the Nixon administration’s peace negotiations with the Vietnamese. The study reveals a number of strategies that the wives used to influence public officials and that others who wish to provide leadership in the absence of formal power might employ.

Smith has interviewed surviving wives, former governmental officials and analyzed Presidential papers held by the National Archives. Several of the interviewees will attend the defense on Thursday. The defense is open to the public.

The University of San Diego is a Catholic institution of higher learning chartered in 1949; the school enrolls some 7,200 students and is known for its commitment to teaching, the liberal arts, the formation of values and community service. The establishment of the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies will bring the university’s total number of schools and colleges to six. Other academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences and the schools of Business Administration, Education, Law and Nursing and Health Sciences.


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