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Florida Peace Movement Collection

Identifier: MSS 0590

Scope and Content

This collection was assembled by Martina and John Linnehan. It contains records of the couple’s activism and advocacy for peace initiatives from 1979 to 2006, especially those against nuclear arms. Of particular note are the many excerpts from newspapers and magazines that document Peace movement demonstrations in Florida and South Georgia as well as protests against Trident submarines in Bangor, Washington. The focus is on protests against nuclear armaments aboard Tridents operating out of King’s Bay naval base, Georgia; also, movements of weapons components by train, missile testing, and the broader concerns of the anti-nuclear movement. Promotional materials for various peace activities include flyers, schedules, and informational pamphlets on nuclear missiles and the dangers of nuclear proliferation. There is correspondence to and from Congress persons, military officials, and local police. Legal documents include arrest records and documents related to court cases and defenses. The collection also includes many of the newsletters, flyers, and other mailouts sent by the Metanoia Community to its members along with media lists and press packets created by the Community. Training materials for activists include an anti-Trident handbook. An oversize box contains newspapers with articles about protests. Additionally, there is a box of audiovisual materials that record Feast of the Holy Innocents protests, interviews with Martina and John, a Pax Christi mass, Greenpeace footage, and a press conference at Cancel the Countdown in Cape Canaveral with John Linnehan and Dr. Spock, along with video of that protest.


  • Creation: 1979 - 2006



Due to privacy issues, only photographs with consent of subjects are available.

Biographical/Historical Note

Foremost among leaders of the Peace Movement in Florida and southeast Georgia, John Xavier Linnehan (1928-2020) and Martina White Linnehan (1938-2022) spent more than 30 years as activists against nuclear proliferation. Their interest in justice movements dated back to the 1960s when John was still a Catholic priest, and Martina a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph in St. Augustine. John had been sent to Florida from his hometown of Boston, but Martina was a native of Jacksonville. In 1973, the two left the clergy to marry and moved to Sarasota where John became a real estate broker, and Martina a teacher. It was around this time that they became interested in the problem of nuclear proliferation. By 1978, they had organized the Nuclear Freeze Campaign in Sarasota and in 1980 the two spent a year as organizers for United Farm Workers in Central Florida.

Despite their activism, they felt there was more they could do. In 1980, they took six months off to “think things over” and walked the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine (Jeanne Pugh, “Peace activists to demonstrate without clergy aid.” Crossroads, Magazine of Religion, St. Petersburg Times. Feb. 12, 1983.) The trip proved transformative for both John and Martina. Their connection to nature deepened, as did their desire to protect it. The minimalist living of the trail also suited them and when they returned to Sarasota, they gave up their previous jobs, began working as aides in nursing homes, and devoted the majority of their time to anti-nuclear activism.

1981 proved to be a seminal year for the Linnehans. They joined the local Peace movement chapter, Immanuel House in St. Petersburg. In October 1982, they were both arrested at a protest outside of the General Electric Neutron Devices plant in Largo, Florida. A six-month imprisonment in Pinellas County jails did nothing to alter their passion. The event made them known within the Peace movement as serious activists, willing to put it all on the line. From there, they collaborated with church leaders to create Pax Christi Florida, and became founding members of the Florida Coalition for Peace and Justice. They organized and participated in protests against the death penalty, “Cancel the Countdown” in Cape Canaveral, the United States involvement in Central America, the White Trains Campaign, and, most importantly, the arrival of Trident nuclear submarines at the King’s Bay Naval Base in Georgia. For nearly 30 years, John and Martina led an annual protest against the Trident submarines. The protest always took place on the Feast of the Holy Innocents—a Catholic holy day marking King Herod’s proclamation to kill all children under two years old in Judea.

The couple also established Metanoia Community in 1986, so named to refer to the change of heart they hoped to generate in their work. The main hub of Metanoia was the Linnehans’ home, the Peace House. On the advice of fellow activists in Washington, who believed tracking weapons components in transit was a vital part of the mission of peace, the house was built adjacent to the railroad tracks that led to King’s Bay. This allowed the two to literally keep an eye on materials entering the naval base. The idea of Metanoia was rooted deeply within the Linnehans’ faith as devout Catholics. Of their 1982 arrest, John said, “while it [the General Electric protest] was happening, we felt really good about it. I thought ‘Here we are, Catholics for all of our lives, and this is the first time we have really exercised the sacrament of confirmation by putting our beliefs in action.” He added, “No government, no church, no corporation or any other institution is willing to stop the arms race because all have a vested interest in it. So who’s going to do it? It has to be the people—the ordinary citizen.” (Jeanne Pugh, “Peace activists to demonstrate without clergy aid.” Crossroads, Magazine of Religion, St. Petersburg Times. Feb. 12, 1983.)


2.4 Linear Feet (6 Boxes (1 oversize))

Language of Materials



This collection preserves audiovisual, photographic, and written documentation of the activism of Martina and John Linnehan to oppose deployment of nuclear armaments and support peace and environmental movements, centered mostly on Florida and Georgia.


University of Florida Smathers Library Building

Acquisition Information

Donated by Martina Linnehan, August 21, 2021.

Processing Information

Photographs stored in folder immediate behind related materials. Additional photographs scanned and stored electronically.

A Guide to the Florida Peace Movement Collection
Finding aid created by Rachel W. Laue
May 2022
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida Repository

George A. Smathers Libraries
PO Box 117005
Gainesville Florida 32611-7005 United States of America