The University of Massachusetts Amherst
Robert S. Cox Special Collections & University Archives Research Center
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Aronson, James

James Aronson Collection of W.E.B. Du Bois

2 boxes 1.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 292

Materials written by or pertaining to W.E.B. Du Bois, collected by James Aronson, who was executive editor of the “National Guardian” from 1948 to 1967. Includes correspondence, speeches by Du Bois in published form, articles by Du Bois, biographical sketches and tribute articles about Du Bois, photographs, and newspaper clippings.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The collection consists of materials from James Aronson’s personal papers that were written by or pertain to W.E.B. Du Bois. Aronson served as the executive editor of the National Guardian, “the longest-lived and most prestigious of… postwar radical newspapers, from 1948 to 1967.1 The National Guardian was created to provide a dissenting voice during the intensification of the Cold War and McCarthy era, a vehicle for the Progressive Party, and to push for the expansion and radicalization of New Deal policies.2 The National Guardian’s commitment to free speech and oppositional politics during the Red Scare provided Du Bois a forum to both make a living and be heard while the U.S. government sought to limit his influence. During this fifteen year span, a period that Aronson later explained as a time in which “almost no one else would publish him,” Du Bois produced over 130 articles for the National Guardian.3

Correspondence includes letters from Shirley Graham Du Bois to Aronson, speeches by Du Bois in published form, articles by and about Du Bois, photographs, and newsclippings. Most of Du Bois’ articles that appeared in the National Guardian between 1948 and 1963 are included. The articles covered an array of topics, but were principally concerned with pacifism, socialism, Pan Africanism, African socialism, African history, African American history, and critiques of the anti-democratic nature of McCarthyism, capitalistic exploitation and its impact on non-white nations and people, and racism in the U.S. Articles about Du Bois are also included, including several biographical sketches and a series of tributes written between 1951 and 1983.

The speeches included in the collection are from the late 1940s and early 1950s and were made while Du Bois was campaigning for Progressive Party presidential candidate Henry Wallace and during Du Bois’s senatorial campaign on the American Labor Party Ticket in New York in 1950. The photographs included are from 1958 and were taken in both London and the U.S.

The newspaper clippings, 1947 to 1964, cover a range of events including the government’s attempt to charge Du Bois with being an “agent of a foreign power”; the government’s refusal to issue Du Bois passports throughout the 1950s, including its refusal to allow him to attend Ghana’s 1957 independence celebration; and press coverage from around the world regarding Du Bois’s death in 1963.

  1. Dan Georgakas, “National Guardian/Guardian” in Encyclopedia of the American Left, 2nd ed., edited by Mari Jo Buhle, Paul Buhle & Dan Georgakas (Oxford University Press, 1998), 529.
  2. The editors of the paper, in fact, even tried to secure funding from the Progressive Party, but to no avail. The National Guardian’s first issue contained an article written by Progressive Party presidential candidate Henry Wallace. At the state level the paper was aligned with the American Labor Party, an Independent-Socialist ticket that sponsored the Gubernatorial campaign of Guardian co-editor John McManus and the Senatorial campaign of Du Bois.
  3. Cedric Belfrage and James Aronson, Something to Guard: The Stormy Life of the National Guardian, 1948-1967 (Columbia University Press, 1978), 138.
Information on Use
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The collection is open for research.

Preferred Citation

Cite as: James Aronson-W.E.B. Du Bois Collection (MS 292). Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst.

History of the Collection

Acquired from Grambs Aronson, 1990.

Processing Information

Processed by David Goldberg, 2001.


African Americans--Civil rightsAfrican Americans--History--1877-1964Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963--Death and burialDu Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963--Views on Pan-AfricanismDu Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963--Views on democracyDu Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963--Views on pacifismDu Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963--Views on socialismNational GuardianSocialism--Africa


Du Bois, Shirley Graham, 1896-1977Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963

Types of material