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Female looking straight at camera with arms crossed, large bow at chest with brooch.

Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash:

Waitstill Sharp, a Harvard trained lawyer and ordained Unitarian minister, and his wife Martha, a social worker, embraced a mission in Europe on behalf of the Unitarian church intended to help Jews, political dissidents, and other refugees attempting to flee Nazi persecution. Leaving their own children in the care of trusted friends, they set sail for Prague, Czechoslovakia. They worked with the American embassy and the British Friends providing humanitarian relief and assistance with emigration, including helping prospective emigres find work in America. Martha helped with Kindertransports, and accompanied adult refugees by train to England. After six months- narrowly escaping arrest -the Sharps left Europe for the United States, arriving just before WW2 broke out in 1939.

The Sharps were again importuned to return to France as ambassadors for the Unitarian Service Committee. The German occupation of Paris forced them to establish headquarters in Lisbon, where they helped intellectuals and political refugees escape. Waitstill focused his efforts on Lisbon, while Martha set up in Marseilles at the Unitarian Committee office, working collaboratively with Varian Fry and the Emergency Rescue Committee, assisting refugees negotiate the French-Spanish border and helping with travel arrangements once they were able to reach Lisbon. Notably she organized a children’s transport to the US, securing the requisite I.D.’s, visas and transit permits for 29 children and 10 adults. This effort would become a model for other such transports of refugee children.

In 1963 the Sharps became the second and third US citizens-after Varian Fry- honored by Israel as Righteous Among the Nations. Martha continued her humanitarian efforts after the war, helping Jews and promoting the state of Israel.


8 1/2 x 6 5/8"


Varian Fry, Waitstill Sharp, Martha Sharp, Hiram Bingham IV, Cordell Hull



Martha Sharp Post-War Press Photo Prior To Her Run For Congress From Massachusetts in 1946



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