A member of the Post War World Council, an ardent pacifist, and anti-imperialist, Stephen Siteman was a long-time member of the Socialist Party of America, serving for seventeen years as secretary to the party's leader Norman Thomas. In his late teens, Siteman was imprisoned as a conscientious objector during World War II. Although he was later pardoned, his time as a prisoner led him into active involvement in prison reform and the peace movement.
During his long involvement in the Socialist Party, Siteman collected a large quantity of material relating to important socialist issues, including Socialist Reform, the peace movement, conscientious objection, and prison reform. The collection also includes a small selection of Siteman's personal correspondence with Frank Zeidler, former Socialist mayor of Milwaukee, and the novelist Mark Harris.
The collection is open for research.
Background on Stephen Siteman
Born in Montague, Massachusetts, on September 15, 1919, Stephen Siteman was introduced to Socialist ideals during the Great Depression, beginning a lifelong association with Democratic Socialism and leftist politics. A pacifist, Siteman was interned in upstate New York during the Second World War for resisting the draft, and although he was later pardoned for resisting military service, his experience helped galvanize his political beliefs.
Siteman became a member of the anti-Communist Socialist Party of America and for seventeen years, beginning in the 1950s, he served as secretary to the Party's leader and six time Presidential candidate, Norman Thomas. During this time, Siteman became deeply involved in several issues resonating with his life experience, including reform of the United States prison system and the promotion of peace and conscientious objection. Through his involvement in the Party, he was introduced to the novelist Mark Harris, assisting Harris with his dissertation on the pacifist and draft resister Randolph Bourne
During the later years of his life, Siteman worked closely with Frank Zeidler, the Socialist mayor of Milwaukee and one of the last Socialists to hold a significant elected office in the United States. Concerned with the failure of the Socialist movement to catch on in America and with the problem of factionalism, the two sought ways to return the party to its founding ideals. Together, they helped organize a series of Democratic Socialist Conferences during the 1980s in the hope of reviving the Party. Siteman retired to Greenfield, Mass., dying there on July 1, 2001, without realizing his dream.
The Stephen Siteman Collection is composed of three thematic series: Socialism, Peace, and Prison Reform. Ranging in date between 1910 and 1990, the contents cover a variety of topics that center on Socialist politics and Socialist ideals. Siteman's idealistic, pacifist, and internationalist world view informs the collection throughout, offering insight into the moderate end of the Old Left political spectrum.
Purchased in .
Processed by Joel Nilles, 2009.
Approximately 9 linear feet of books have been separated from the Siteman Collection and have been catalogued and shelved separately in the Rare Books Collections. See a list of the Siteman Books separately.
Cite as: Stephen Siteman Collection (MS 503). Special Collections and University Archives, UMass Amherst Libraries.