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Esperanto Information Center Records

1932-2016 (Bulk: 1960-1976)
6 boxes (8 linear foot)
Call no.: MS 1076

Labor educator Mark Starr first became interested in the potential of the constructed language, Esperanto, for promoting peace and international understanding while serving time in prison for conscientious objection during the First World War. A career in labor led him to immigrate to the United States in 1928, where he taught at a labor college in New York before becoming the educational director for the International Ladies Garment Workers Union. Long active in the Esperanto movement, he joined the Esperanto Information Center when it was founded by Bernard Stollman in 1962 and served as its chair from 1965 to 1972. As the New York Office of the Esperanto League of North America, the EIC played a key role in promoting the movement in the United States and sharing information among supporters and aspiring learners.

Meticulously maintained by Starr during his tenure as chair, the EIC records include a rich correspondence with local and regional Esperanto organizations and national and international affiliates, and particularly its parent body, the Esperanto League for North America. While much of the content consists of routine communications about membership, queries from learners, and organizational wrangling about meetings, conferences, and publications, the collection provides insight into the grassroots organizing and lobbying for the language and its roots in internationalism, peace, and social justice concerns. Written in both Esperanto and English, the collection includes letters (retained copies as well as received) and articles by Starr and other noted Esperantists, including Allan Boschen, Francis Hellmuth, and Humphrey Tonkin.

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Background on Esperanto Information Center


An image of: Esperanta leciono per bildoj, ca.1968

Esperanta leciono per bildoj, ca.1968

The labor educator Mark Starr first became interested in Esperanto while serving time in prison in his native England. Born into poverty in Shoscombe, Somerset, in 1894, Starr left school at 13 to earn his keep, and was soon drawn into the labor movement. Working as a builder's mortar boy for a year, he entered the local coalmines and then relocated to the thicker coal seams of South Wales, where the the simple country Methodism of his youth quickened into Socialism.

Starr's life hit a watershed in 1913 when an essay he wrote on the Osborne Judgment earned him a Rhondda Miners' Scholarship to restart his formal education at the Central Labour College in London. With war looming, however, and the likelihood that students and staff alike would be called to service, the College was barely viable, and nearly on his own, Starr pressed on with his studies. Registering as a conscientious objector at the outbreak of the war, he was permitted to return to the mines (deemed essential to the war effort), but by 1917, standing out of the conflict became untenable. Not budging on his convictions, Starr was arrested and sentenced to prison. It while incarcerated at Wormwood Scrubs that an Esperanto translation of the New Testament sparked his zeal for the ideals of universal language. For the next six decades, he devoted himself to promoting this constructed language as a tool for promoting international dialog, intercultural understanding, and world peace.

Completing coursework at the Labour College after release from prison, Starr delved into the "Plebs" self-education movement, a natural fit for someone of his background, and helped to found the National Council of Labour Colleges (NCLC) in 1921. In this role as an educator, he became a prolific propagandist, mixing advocacy for the labor cause with keen historical and economic analysis. Among his numerous books and pamphlets were: A worker looks at history (1917), A worker looks at economics (1925), Trade unionism, past and future (1923), Lies and hate in education (1928), Workers' education in the United States (1941), Labor and the American Way (1952), and Creeping Socialism vs. limping Capitalism (1954).

A brief commitment to Communism ended for Starr when he saw the Soviet system firsthand during an Esperanto Congress in Leningrad, after which he settled gradually into a pragmatic Socialist-inflected liberalism. Aspiring to office, he stood unsuccessfully for Parliament on the Labour Party ticket in 1924, but tensions over the direction of British labor helped spur his decision to immigrate to the United States in 1928. A position at the Brookwood Labor College in Katonah, N.Y., lasted until that institution began to founder during the middle years of the Great Depression, after which Starr landed as educational director for the International Ladies Garment Workers Union. As in England, he mixed educational work with forays into formal politics, aligning with the American Labor Party and the Liberal Party of New York, and running (unsuccessfully) as the Liberal Party candidate for the Fourth District in Queens in 1946.

For Starr, Esperantism was always a congenial partner for Socialism. He had taught courses in the language during his time with the NCLC and was active in Esperanto organizations as early as the 1920s. After retiring from the ILGWU in 1960, he joined the Esperanto Information Center, serving as its chair from 1965 to 1972. Located at 156 Fifth Ave. in New York City -- the "unfashionable end" of the street, according to the 1969 EIC Report -- the Center was one of two information "agencies" of the Esperanto League for North America, the other located in the Bay Area of California. Established by Bernard Stollman in 1962, the EIC was a clearinghouse for information about the movement and a connector of people and publications, sharing information about the language to "anyone who consults the telephone book and the 'yellow pages of the classified.'" Starr and his associates fielded queries from committed Esperantists, aspiring learners, the media, and the curious public, and they worked to raise awareness and interest in the language with publishers, writers, students, educators, and political figures. Working with the Esperanto Book Center, their co-tenants on Fifth Avenue, the EIC produced and distributed publications in and about the language. During Starr's tenure in the late 1960s, in particular, the EIC was a meeting place for Esperantists and a connector of groups ranging from international organizations to local and regional clubs and the United Nations.

Starr retired from his duties at the EIC in 1974, aged 80, and died on April 14, 1985.

Scope of collection

Meticulously maintained by Starr during his tenure as chair, the EIC records include a rich correspondence with local and regional Esperanto organizations and national and international affiliates, and particularly its parent body, the Esperanto League for North America. While much of the content consists of routine communications about membership, queries from learners, and organizational wrangling about meetings, conferences, publications, and newsletters, the collection provides insight into the grassroots organizing and lobbying for the language and its roots in internationalism, peace, and social justice concerns. Written in both Esperanto and English, the collection includes letters (retained copies as well as received) and articles by Starr and other noted Esperantists, such as Allan Boschen, Francis Hellmuth, and Humphrey Tonkin.

Series descriptions

Organized chronologically, the correspondence series consists of letters received and sent from the New York office of the Esperanto Information Center, an agency of the Esperanto League for North America. Mark Starr, Chair of the Center, figures in most of the letters, which center on a small number of relatively mundane subjects -- queries from learners, membership, the newsletter and other publications, and Esperanto congresses. Interwoven throughout, however, are interesting insights into the ideals of the movement and their roots in peace, World Federalism, and intercultural dialog, and the efforts of Esperantists to influence public policy.

A small quantity of correspondence pre-dates the formal establishment of the Esperanto Information Center, and centers primarily on Starr's interest in the language.

A heterogenous assemablage of materials associated with the Esperanto Information Center, Series 2 includes formal minutes and reports from the EIC along with useful information on the Center's role in connecting Esperantists through newsletters, publications, and congresses, and information about Esperanto as represented in the media. The series includes useful runs of newsletters published by regional organizations: those in Oregon, Los Angeles, and San Francisco are the best represented.

Inventory

Series 1. Correspondence
1945-1987
Correspondence
1945-1959
Box 1: 1
Correspondence
1960 Jan.-June
Box 1: 2
Correspondence
1960 June-Dec.
Box 1: 3
Correspondence
1961 Jan.-June
Box 1: 4
Correspondence
1961 June-Dec.
Box 1: 5
Correspondence
1962 Jan.-June
Box 1: 6
Correspondence
1962 June-Dec.
Box 1: 7
Correspondence
1963 Jan.-June
Box 1: 8
Correspondence
1963 June-Dec.
Box 1: 9
Correspondence
1964 Jan.
Box 1: 10
Correspondence
1964 Feb.
Box 1: 11
Correspondence
1964 Mar.
Box 1: 12
Correspondence
1964 Apr.
Box 1: 13
Correspondence
1964 May
Box 1: 14
Correspondence
1964 June
Box 1: 15
Correspondence
1964 July
Box 1: 16
Correspondence
1964 Aug.
Box 1: 17
Correspondence
1964 Sept.
Box 1: 18
Correspondence
1964 Oct.
Box 1: 19
Correspondence
1964 Nov.
Box 1: 20
Correspondence
1964 Dec.
Box 1: 21
Correspondence: no month
1964
Box 1: 22
Correspondence
1965 Jan.
Box 1: 23
Correspondence
1965 Feb.
Box 1: 24
Correspondence
1965 Mar.
Box 1: 25
Correspondence
1965 Apr.
Box 1: 26
Correspondence
1965 May
Box 1: 27
Correspondence
1965 June
Box 1: 28
Correspondence
1965 July
Box 1: 29
Correspondence
1965 Aug.
Box 1: 30
Correspondence
1965 Sept.
Box 1: 31
Correspondence
1965 Oct.
Box 1: 32
Correspondence
1965 Nov.
Box 1: 33
Correspondence
1965 Dec.
Box 1: 34
Correspondence: no month
1965
Box 1: 35
Correspondence
1966 Jan.
Box 1: 36
Correspondence
1966 Feb.
Box 1: 37
Correspondence
1966 Mar.
Box 1: 38
Correspondence
1966 Apr.
Box 1: 39
Correspondence
1966 May
Box 1: 40
Correspondence
1966 June
Box 1: 41
Correspondence
1966 July
Box 1: 42
Correspondence
1966 Aug.
Box 1: 43
Correspondence
1966 Sept.
Box 1: 44
Correspondence
1966 Oct.
Box 1: 45
Correspondence
1966 Nov.
Box 1: 46
Correspondence
1966 Dec.
Box 1: 47
Correspondence: no date
1966
Box 2: 1
Correspondence
1967 Jan.
Box 2: 2
Correspondence
1967 Feb.
Box 2: 3
Correspondence
1967 Mar.
Box 2: 4
Correspondence
1967 Apr.
Box 2: 5
Correspondence
1967 May
Box 2: 6
Correspondence
1967 June
Box 2: 7
Correspondence
1967 July
Box 2: 8
Correspondence
1967 Aug.
Box 2: 9
Correspondence
1967 Sept.
Box 2: 10
Correspondence
1967 Oct.
Box 2: 11
Correspondence
1967 Nov.
Box 2: 12
Correspondence
1967 Dec.
Box 2: 13
Correspondence
1967
Box 2: 14
Correspondence
1968 Jan.
Box 2: 15
Correspondence
1968 Feb.
Box 2: 16
Correspondence
1968 Mar.
Box 2: 17
Correspondence
1968 Apr.
Box 2: 18
Correspondence
1968 May
Box 2: 19
Correspondence
1968 June
Box 2: 20
Correspondence
1968 July
Box 2: 21
Correspondence
1968 Aug.
Box 2: 22
Correspondence
1968 Sept.
Box 2: 23
Correspondence
1968 Oct.
Box 2: 24
Correspondence
1968 Nov.
Box 2: 25
Correspondence
1968 Dec.
Box 2: 26
Correspondence: no month
1968
Box 2: 27
Correspondence
1969 Jan.
Box 2: 28
Correspondence
1969 Feb.
Box 2: 29
Correspondence
1969 Mar.
Box 2: 30
Correspondence
1969 Apr.
Box 2: 31
Correspondence
1969 May
Box 2: 32
Correspondence
1969 June
Box 2: 33
Correspondence
1969 July
Box 2: 34
Correspondence
1969 Aug.
Box 2: 35
Correspondence
1969 Sept.
Box 2: 36
Correspondence
1969 Oct.
Box 2: 37
Correspondence
1969 Nov.
Box 2: 38
Correspondence
1969 Dec.
Box 2: 39
Correspondence: no month
1969
Box 2: 40
Correspondence
1970 Jan.
Box 3: 1
Correspondence
1970 Feb.
Box 3: 2
Correspondence
1970 Mar.
Box 3: 3
Correspondence
1970 Apr.
Box 3: 4
Correspondence
1970 May
Box 3: 5
Correspondence
1970 June
Box 3: 6
Correspondence
1970 July
Box 3: 7
Correspondence
1970 Aug.
Box 3: 8
Correspondence
1970 Sept.
Box 3: 9
Correspondence
1970 Oct.
Box 3: 10
Correspondence
1970 Nov.
Box 3: 11
Correspondence
1970 Dec.
Box 3: 12
Correspondence: no month
1970
Box 3: 13
Correspondence
1971 Jan.
Box 3: 14
Correspondence
1971 Feb.
Box 3: 15
Correspondence
1971 Mar.
Box 3: 16
Correspondence
1971 Apr.
Box 3: 17
Correspondence
1971 May
Box 3: 18
Correspondence
1971 June
Box 3: 19
Correspondence
1971 July
Box 3: 20
Correspondence
1971 Aug.
Box 3: 21
Correspondence
1971 Sept.
Box 3: 22
Correspondence
1971 Oct.
Box 3: 23
Correspondence
1971 Nov.
Box 3: 24
Correspondence
1971 Dec.
Box 3: 25
Correspondence: no month
1971
Box 3: 26
Correspondence
1972 Jan.
Box 3: 27
Correspondence
1972 Feb.
Box 3: 28
Correspondence
1972 Mar.
Box 3: 29
Correspondence
1972 Apr.
Box 3: 30
Correspondence
1972 May
Box 3: 31
Correspondence
1972 June
Box 3: 32
Correspondence
1972 July
Box 3: 33
Correspondence
1972 Aug.
Box 3: 34
Correspondence
1972 Sept.
Box 3: 35
Correspondence
1972 Oct.
Box 3: 36
Correspondence
1972 Nov.
Box 3: 37
Correspondence
1972 Dec.
Box 3: 38
Correspondence: no month
1972
Box 3: 39
Correspondence
1973 Jan.-Feb.
Box 3: 40
Correspondence
1973 Mar.-Apr.
Box 3: 41
Correspondence
1973 May-June
Box 3: 42
Correspondence
1973 July-Aug.
Box 3: 43
Correspondence
1973 Sept.-Oct.
Box 3: 44
Correspondence
1973 Nov.-Dec.
Box 3: 45
Correspondence: no month
1973
Box 3: 46
Correspondence
1974 Jan.-Mar.
Box 3: 47
Correspondence
1974 Apr.-June
Box 3: 48
Correspondence
1974 July-Sept.
Box 3: 49
Correspondence
1974 Oct.-Dec.
Box 3: 50
Correspondence: no month
1974
Box 3: 51
Correspondence
1975 Jan.-Mar.
Box 4: 1
Correspondence
1975 Apr.-June
Box 4: 2
Correspondence
1975 July-Sept.
Box 4: 3
Correspondence
1975 Oct.-Dec.
Box 4: 4
Correspondence: no month
1975
Box 4: 5
Correspondence
1976 Jan.-Apr.
Box 4: 6
Correspondence
1976 May-Aug.
Box 4: 7
Correspondence
1976 Sept.-Dec.
Box 4: 8
Correspondence
1977 Jan.-June
Box 4: 9
Correspondence
1977 July-Dec.
Box 4: 10
Correspondence
1978
Box 4: 11
Correspondence
1979
Box 4: 12
Correspondence
1980
Box 4: 13
Correspondence
1981
Box 4: 14
Correspondence
1982
Box 4: 15
Correspondence
1983-1987
Box 4: 16
Correspondence: Channing L. Bete
1971
Box 4: 17
Correspondence: Foundations
1965-1970
Box 4: 18
Correspondence: Hawaii English project
1971
Box 4: 19
Correspondence: Hecht, George J.
1968-1969
Box 4: 20
Correspondence: Hecht, George J.
1970
Box 4: 21
Correspondence: Hecht, George J.
1971
Box 4: 22
Correspondence: Hellmuth, Francis E.
1968-1971
Box 4: 23
Correspondence: Hitke, Kurt
1967-1968
Box 4: 24
Correspondence: Isobe, Yukito
1967
Box 4: 25
Correspondence: Lieberman, E. James
1966-1973
Box 4: 26
Correspondence: Pei, Mario A.
1964-1967
Box 4: 27
Correspondence: Pei, Mario A.
1968
Box 4: 28
Correspondence: Pei, Mario A.
1969
Box 4: 29
Correspondence: Pei, Mario A.
1970-1973
Box 4: 30
Correspondence: Plena Vortaro
1966
Box 4: 31
Correspondence: Poole, Jonathan
1967-1969
Box 4: 32
Correspondence: Schultze, Catherine
1969-1972
Box 4: 33
Series 2. Etcetera
1932-2016
Advertising
Box 4: 34
Articles on Esperanto
1932-1971
Box 4: 35
Congresses
1958-1963
Box 4: 36
Congresses
1966
Box 4: 37
Congresses
1967
Box 4: 38
Congresses
1968
Box 4: 39
Congresses
1969
Box 4: 40
Congresses
1970
Box 4: 41
Congresses
1971
Box 4: 42
Congresses
1972
Box 4: 43
Congresses
1973-1976
Box 4: 44
Congresses: Leviganta Bjalistoko [tote bag]
2009
Box 6: 2
Congresses: La 97-a Universala Kongreso, Hanojo-Vjetnamio, 28 Julio-4 Augusto 2012 Esperanto [tote bag]
2012
Box 6: 3
Congresses: 100-a Universala Kongreso de Esperanto, Lillo, 25 julio-1 augusto 2015 [tote bag]
2015
Box 6: 4
Congresses: 101-a Universala Kongreso de Esperanto, 23.-30.07.2016, Nitro, Slovakio [tote bag]
2016
Box 6: 5
Congresses: La 7-a Azia Kongreso de Esperanto. Jerusalemo [baseball cap]
2013
Box 6: 6
Congresses: Esperanto [baseball cap]
ca.2015
Box 6: 7
Ephemera: Advertising in Esperanto
1965-1967
Box 4: 45
Ephemera: Calendars, signage, stickers
1949-1971
Box 4: 46
Ephemera: Esperanto courses
1966-1973
Box 4: 47
Ephemera: Esperanto publications
1952-1972
Box 4: 48
Ephemera: International organizations
1965-2017
Box 4: 49
Ephemera: Introductions to Esperanto
1967-1971
Box 4: 50
Ephemera: Language promotion
1958-1974
Box 4: 51
Ephemera: Miscellaneous
ca.1948-1965
Box 4: 52
Ephemera: Radio broadcasts
1959-1970
Box 4: 53
Ephemera: Social justice
1946-1976
Box 4: 54
Ephemera: Travel
1961-1975
Box 4: 55
Ephemera: Youth and student groups
1966-1975
Box 4: 56
Esperanto Association of North America: Administration and organization
1954-1959
Box 5: 1
Esperanto Association of North America: Congresses
1949-1958
Box 5: 2
Esperanto Association of North America: Constitution
1947
Box 5: 3
Esperanto Association of North America: Ephemera
Box 5: 4
Esperanto Association of North America: Ephemera (language promotion)
Box 5: 5
Esperanto Association of North America: Miscellaneous
1946-1958
Box 5: 6
Esperanto Association of North America: Newsletters
1950-1955
Box 5: 7
Esperanto Association of North America: New Year's Bulletin (1954, 1956, 1957)
1954-1957
Box 5: 8
Esperanto Association of North America: Publication lists
ca.1955
Box 5: 9
Esperanto Information Center: Cash book
1964-1968
Box 5: 10
Esperanto Information Center Executive Board
1970
Box 5: 11
Esperanto Information Center: Information package
1969
Box 5: 12
Esperanto Information Center: Minutes
1965-1968
Box 5: 13
Esperanto Information Center: Newsletter
1965-1965
Box 5: 14
Esperanto Information Center: Newsletter
1966
Box 5: 15
Esperanto Information Center: Newsletter
1967
Box 5: 16
Esperanto Information Center: Newsletter
1968
Box 5: 17
Esperanto Information Center: Newsletter
1969-1970
Box 5: 18
Esperanto Information Center: Newsletter
1971-1972
Box 5: 19
Esperanto Information Center: Reports
1967-1968
Box 5: 20
Esperanto Information Center: Reports
1969
Box 5: 21
Esperanto Information Center: Reports
1970
Box 5: 22
Esperanto Information Center: Reports
1971
Box 5: 23
Esperanto Information Center: Reports
1972
Box 5: 24
Esperanto Information Center: Visitors log
1967-1970
Box 5: 25
Esperanto in schools
ca.1972
Box 5: 26
Esperanto League for North America
1953-ca.1968
Box 5: 27
Esperanto League for North America: Constitution
1955, 1965
Box 5: 28
Esperanto League for North America: Member directory
1959, 1973
Box 5: 29
Esperanto League for North America: Organizational
1985
Box 5: 30
Goodman, Thomas H., Esperanto: A language for the whole world
1977
Box 5: 31
International Esperanto Museum
ca.1966
Box 5: 32
Junularo Esperantista de Nord-Amerika: News Digest
1967-1969
Box 5: 33
News clippings
1933-1964
Box 5: 34
News clippings
1965
Box 5: 35
News clippings
1966
Box 5: 36
News clippings
1967-1968
Box 5: 37
News clippings
1969-1970
Box 5: 38
News clippings
1971-1981
Box 5: 39
News clippings
undated
Box 5: 40
Photographs
1966-1971
Box 5: 41
Regional organizations: American Catholic Esperanto Society
1965-1969
Box 5: 42
Regional organizations: California: Los Angeles
1959-1978
Box 5: 43
Regional organizations: California: San Diego
1965-1970
Box 5: 44
Regional organizations: California: San Francisco
1966-1975
Box 5: 45
Regional organizations: California: Other
1965
Box 5: 46
Regional organizations: Florida
1970-1973
Box 5: 47
Regional organizations: Illinois
1970-1975
Box 5: 48
Regional organizations: Massachusetts
1967-1969
Box 5: 49
Regional organizations: Miscellaneous
1966-1976
Box 5: 50
Regional organizations: New England
1973
Box 5: 51
Regional organizations: Oregon
1966-1974
Box 5: 52
Regional organizations: Washington
1965-1974
Box 5: 53
Regional organizations: Washington, D.C.
1968-1977
Box 5: 54
Scrapbook (not bound)
1964-1973
Box 6: 1
Talmey, Max: Socioeconomic significance and other aspects of an adequate auxiliary language
1936
Box 5: 55
Tutamonda Esperantista Junulara Organazo
1965-1972
Box 5: 56
United Nations: Universala deklaracio de hom-rajtoj
1948
Box 5: 57
Veterana Esperantista Klubo
1957-1968
Box 5: 58

Administrative information

Access

The collection is open for research.

Provenance

Gift of Humphrey Tonkin, April 2019.

Related Material

The Records of the Esperanto League for North America, housed in SCUA (MS 1035), contain information on the EIC and the movement in North American more generally.

Other collections of papers for Mark Starr at located at Kheel Center for Labor Management, Cornell Univesity (Collection no. 5243), Tamiment Library, New York Univesity, and Princeton University. The records of Brookwood Labor College at the Reuther Library, Wayne State University, also originated with Starr.

Processing Information

Processed by I. Eliot Wentworth, May 2019.

Digitized content

Selected materials have been digitized and may be viewed online in SCUA's digital repository, Credo.

Languages:

English, Esperanto

Copyright and Use (More information )

Cite as: Esperanto Information Center Records (MS 1076). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.

Search terms

Subjects

  • Esperanto--Study and teaching
  • Esperanto--United States

Contributors

  • Esperanto Information Center [main entry]
  • Esperanto League for North America
  • Starr, Mark, 1894-1985
  • Tonkin, Humphrey, 1939-

Genres and formats

  • Newsletters

Link to similar SCUA collections