History of Group 19


Ginetta Sagan founded the informal precursor of group 19 in 1969. At the time, members were recruited form San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, San Jose, Palo Alto, Atherton, Stanford and Redwood City. The group initially worked for the release of Prisoners of Conscience in Greece, Brazil, and Northern Ireland.

Group 19 received formal recognition in 1971. Ginetta Sagan, with David Hinkley, Scott Harison and Ellen Moore, initiated what is now the Urgent Action Network, first called the Telegram Tree. In 1977, John Duryea started a group in his community meeting at the University Lutheran Center. This group operated as a second part of Group 19 and eventually merged with Group 19.

Since its own inception, members of Group 19, especially Ginetta Sagan, have also initiated some 75 other groups, and has worked for the release of prisoners in Brazil, Argentina, the USSR, Greece, Czechoslovakia, Syria, Libya, South Korea, Uruguay, Indonesia, South Africa, China, Malaysia, Vietnam, Morocco, Eritrea, and El Salvador.

Over the years, Group 19 has been fortunate in attracting talented and dedicated members, including Rena Margulis who, with help from other group members, edited and published the Casework Manual, a lucid guide and a compendium of tips and examples for doing casework, and Lee Boucher, who helped to free prisoners of conscience and to fund-raise, coordinated tabling for 10 years, and donated to Group 19 generously.


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Last changed May 12, 2012