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Ruth Leger Sivard papers

Identifier: SSC-MS-00772

Scope and Contents

Primarily the research materials for the sixteen editions of "World Military and Social Expenditures," including newspaper clippings, reports, journal articles, and some correspondence; financial records for World Priorities, Inc.

Dates of Materials

  • Creation: 1960 - 2015


Language of Materials

Collection is written in English, Japanese, German, French, Spanish, Swedish, Finnish, Danish, Dutch, and Norwegian.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for use without restriction beyond the standard terms and conditions of Smith College Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

To the extent that they own copyright, Susan Sivard has assigned the copyright of Ruth Leger Sivard works to Smith College; however, copyright in other items in this collection may be held by their respective creators. For reproductions of materials that are governed by fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. For instances which may regard materials in the collection not created by Sivard, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold materials' copyrights and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from Smith College Special Collections to move forward with their use.

Biographical Note

Ruth Leger Sivard was born in Queens, New York, the daughter of George Leger, a fabric salesman, and Susan Zieten Leger, a German immigrant who worked as a seamstress. After graduation from Flushing High School, Sivard attended Smith College, earning a degree in Sociology in 1937. She later earned a Master's degree in Economics at New York University in 1942. Sivard then went to work for the Office of Price Administration in Washington during World War II. When the war ended, she went to work for the newly created United Nations in Austria and the International Refugee Organization in Switzerland. In 1961, Sivard joined the Federal Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, eventually serving as head of the economics division there, crafting reports that compared military and social spending in the US and around the world. In 1970 then Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird complained to President Nixon that these widely read reports made his job of getting the Defense budget through Congress difficult, especially as opposition to the Vietnam War grew. Sivard was ordered to stop releasing her comparative reports and, in response, she resigned from the Agency in 1971. Sivard went on to form the non-profit organization, World Priorities, Inc., based in Washington. Between 1974 and 1996, World Priorities published sixteen editions of the highly acclaimed"World Military and Social Expenditures,"clearly showing the costs of militarism, especially as the arms race escalated during the 1980s. Widely read by policymakers around the world,"World Military and Social Expenditures"would appear in multiple languages and at a reasonable cost, made possible by the support of funders such as the Rockefeller and Carnegie Foundations. Her goal was straight-forward:"In bringing together military and social data for direct comparison, the report bridges a gap in the information available to the public. It is hoped that this will help to focus attention on the competition for resources between two kinds of priorities"( Sivard also wrote and published"Women, A World Survey"in 1985, with a second edition appearing ten years later, noting that"Women around the world have one thing in common. Inequality with men."In 1979, she wrote and published"World Energy Survey"(2nd edition, 1981). In 1944, Ruth Leger married a high school classmate, Robert Sivard. Their marriage lasted forty-six years, until his death in 1990, and produced two children. Ruth Leger Sivard died at her home in Washington, DC, from complications due to Alzheimer's disease; she was 99 years old.


26.437 linear feet (25 containers)


The collection primarily contains the research materials for the sixteen editions of "World Military and Social Expenditures," including newspaper clippings, reports, journal articles, and some correspondence.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was gifted by Susan Sivard in 2016.



Finding aid to the Ruth Leger Sivard papers
Legacy Finding Aid (Updated)
Madison White
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2017-07-26T17:48:24-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.
  • 2018-10-18: Updated to conform to DACS
  • 2020-03-20: Added boxes 1-25, updated dates

Repository Details

Part of the Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History Repository

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063