By Jeffrey V. Moy, North Jersey History and Genealogy Center
Walter Wanderwell co-founded the Work Around the World Educational Club with his wife Nell in 1919 in an effort to promote world peace after the Great War.
To raise money to keep the expedition going, Walter, a charismatic salesman and something of a rogue, sold tickets to screenings of their travelogue footage where he and Nell spoke of their adventures to rapt crowds.
Walter’s charismatic appeal and infectious personality frequently landed him in trouble, but he mostly emerged unscathed. A Polish expat, Walter was born sometime around 1895 as Valerian Johannes Pieczynski.
Nell Miller was born in 1896 outside of Seattle, WA, and worked as a Broadway chorus girl before meeting Walter in 1918. After a brief courtship, the couple married in Birmingham, AL, in 1918 and set out on their worldwide adventure.
Walter and Nell Wanderwell were masters of publicity, and ensured that newspapers across the world covered their every move. This 1921 edition of the Oakland Tribune notes the couple’s recent arrival in Lansing, MI, after crossing 37 countries and over 133,000 miles.
The Wanderwells initially envisioned the Work Around the World Education Club as a volunteer international police force that would monitor countries for signs of military buildup, to prevent a repeat of the atrocities and death of World War I.
However, the “peace through education and disarmament” campaign transitioned …….