Communist Party of Massachusetts Collection

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Overview: A branch of the Communist Party of the United States of America, the Communist Party of Massachusetts enjoyed strong popularity during the 1930s and 1940s, organizing the textile and other manufacturing industries.

This small collection is comprised of a miscellaneous assemblage of fliers, broadsides, and ephemera issued by the Communist Party of Massachusetts and its affiliates from the mid-1930s through the repression of the McCarthy era. Originating mostly from Boston, the items in the collection center on significant themes in Communist thought, including opposition to Fascism and militarism, labor solidarity against capital, and elections. A small number of items relate to Party-approved cultural productions, including plays and gatherings to celebrate Lenin or the Russian Revolution. Many items are associated with Otis A. Hood, a perpetual candidate for public office on the Communist Party ticket who became a target for McCarthy-era repression in the mid-1950s.

See similar SCUA collections:

Communism and Socialism
Labor
Massachusetts (East)
Peace
Political activism
Social justice
World War II

Background on Communist Party of Massachusetts

The Communist Party of the USA, a Marxist-Leninist political organization, was founded in 1919 by the secession of the left wing of the Socialist Party of America. Despite the intense anti-Communist repression of the post-World War I years, the party spread rapidly across the country, partly as an underground movement, drawing strength within the ranks of organized labor, immigrant communities, and from opponents of racial segregation. Although hampered by internal factional disputes, the party grew into an active presence in Massachusetts by the late 1920s, rooted especially in Boston, Cambridge, and industrialized cities from Fall River and New Bedford to Springfield.

The economic dislocations of the Depression years of the 1930s propelled the party to its peak of influence in Massachusetts. The threat of Fascism in Europe galvanized party members to set aside factional disputes in favor of forming a broad popular front with other left organizations to forge coalitions centered on labor, social justice, and civil rights causes. The success they enjoyed, however, was relatively short-lived, curtailed by widespread rejection of the party's non-interventionist stance after the non-aggression pact between Germany and Soviet Union in August 1939. Although the party recovered somewhat after the German invasion of the Soviet Union and the formation of an American-Soviet alliance, it never again wielded the same influence, particularly after the renewal of severe governmental repression during the Cold War years and the resurgence of internal divisions.

Contents of Collection

This small collection is comprised of a miscellaneous assemblage of fliers, broadsides, and ephemera issued by the Communist Party of Massachusetts and its affiliates from the mid-1930s through the repression of the McCarthy era. Originating mostly from Boston, the items in the collection center on significant themes in Communist thought, including opposition to Fascism and militarism, labor solidarity against capital, and elections. A small number of items relate to Party-approved cultural productions, including plays and gatherings to celebrate Lenin or the Russian Revolution. Many items are associated with Otis A. Hood, a perpetual candidate for public office on the Communist Party ticket who became a target for McCarthy-era repression in the mid-1950s.

Many items in the collection were quickly printed on cheap paper and are in brittle and very fragile condition. They should be handled with great care.

Collection inventory
1954 Massachusetts congressional and state elections: the Communist viewpoint
1954
Box 1: 2
Hood, Otis A.: Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. Otis Archer Hood
ca.1954
Box 1: 13
Hood, Otis A.: Statement of Otis A. Hood following news of threatened indictment for violation of 1951 anti-Communist law
ca.1954
Box 1: 19
New England Mutual Hall and the Charter Room: Lease to Fanny Hartman [for meeting]
1947 Aug. 15
Box 1: 29
Saltonstall attacks free elections, by Communist Party of Massachusetts
ca.1940
Broadside
Box 1: 34
United May Day Committee: All out May Day. Against War! Against Fascism!
1938
Broadside
Box 1: 36
WMEX Radio Station: Broadcast agreements with Communist Party
1948
Box 1: 41

Administrative information

Access

The collection is open for research.

Language:

English

Provenance

Acquired from Eugene Povirk, Feb. 2008 (2008-040).

Processing Information

Processed by I. Eliot Wentworth, May 2017.

Digitized content

Much of the Communist Party of Massachusetts Collection has been digitized and is available online in Credo.

Copyright and Use (More informationConnect to publication information)

Cite as: Communist Party of Massachusetts Collection (MS 538). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.

Search terms

Subjects

  • Boston (Mass.)--History
  • Communism--Massachusetts
  • Depressions--1929
  • Labor movement--Massachusetts
  • Peace movements--Massachusetts
  • World War, 1939-1945

Link to similar SCUA collections

Names

  • Hood, Otis Archer

Genre terms

  • Broadsides (Notices)
  • Fliers (Printed matter)
  • Printed ephemera