Collecting area: Political radicalism

Bruskin, Gene

Gene Bruskin Papers

1963-2018
6 boxes 8 linear feet
Call no.: MS 1020
Depiction of Gene Bruskin
Gene Bruskin

Gene Bruskin arrived at Princeton in 1964 as a basketball player and left as a political radical. After taking part in the Second Venceremos Brigade, Bruskin got involved in antiracist and labor organizing in Boston. As president of the United Steelworkers of America local during the busing crisis of the 1970s, he helped win overwhelming support among the city’s bus drivers to have the union represent them, leading successful campaigns for better wages and working conditions. In the years since, he has held numerous high-profile positions nationally and internationally, including as labor director for Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition, Secretary Treasurer for the Food and Allied Service Trades Department of the AFL-CIO, and co-convener of U.S. Labor Against the War, an organization promoting peace and the demilitarization of U.S. foreign policy. Bruskin was a major figure in the largest private union election in the history of the United Food and Commercial Workers when he led the successful campaign to unionize 5,000 workers at Smithfield Foods in North Carolina. Since retiring in 2012, he has continued to consult with unions. In addition he has returned to some of his earlier undertakings in producing cultural works as a poet, songwriter, and playwright, centered on social justice and working class themes.

Documenting nearly fifty years of activism, Gene Bruskin’s papers are an exceptional resource for the labor movement in the 1970s through early 2000s, and particularly its radical end. Although Bruskin’s early years are relatively sparsely represented, there is a significant run of Brother, the first anti-sexist, “male liberation” journal that he helped found while in Oakland, and the collection includes important material from his work in Boston with the Hyde Park Defense Committee, the Red Basement Singers, and especially with the School Bus Drivers and their tumultuous three-week strike in 1980. The collection also contains a rich assortment of material on labor left and antiwar organizing in the 1990s and 2000s, the Justice at Smithfield campaign, and Bruskin’s work on behalf of single payer insurance, for International Solidarity, the American Federation of Teachers, and the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees.

Gift of Gene Bruskin, April 2018

Subjects

Boston (Mass.)--HistoryBus drivers--Labor unionsCharter schoolsJackson, Jesse, 1941-Labor unions--MassachusettsLabor unions--North CarolinaNational Rainbow Coalition (U.S.)Public schoolsSmithfield Foods, Inc.Strikes and lockouts--Bus driversWeatherman (Organization)

Contributors

Boston School Bus Drivers UnionUnited Steelworkers of America
Bush, Carroll H.

Carroll H. Bush Papers

1929-1938
1 box 0.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 1055

A knitter in a Northampton silk factory during the years of the Great Depression, Carroll Bush was a Socialist and officer with the American Federation of Hosiery Workers.

The Bush papers offer a small but fascinating glimpse into political radicalism and union organizing among Northampton silk workers during the Great Depression. An active Socialist and union member in the Textile Workers Union of America, Bush corresponded with other textile workers and union organizers in Massachusetts and entertained an interest in union agitation more generally. The collection consists entirely of letters received by Bush.

Gift of Bruce Rubenstein via Eugene Povirk, Oct. 2018

Subjects

Communists--Massachusetts--NorthamptonHosiery workers--Labor unions--Massachusetts--NorthamptonNorthampton (Mass.)--History--20th centurySilk industry--Massachusetts--NorthamptonStrikes and lockouts--Massachusetts--EasthamptonTextile workers--Labor unions--Massachusetts--NorthamptonTremont Silk Company

Contributors

American Federation of Hosiery WorkersUnited Elastic CorporationUnited Textile Workers of America

Types of material

Fliers
Chalfen family

Chalfen Family Papers

ca.1890-2011
51 boxes 76.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 770

Born into a Jewish family in Khotyn, Bessarabia (now Ukraine), in 1888, Benjamin Chalfen emigrated to United States as a young man, arriving in New York City in 1910 before making his way to Boston. Taking work as a clerk with the Roxbury Crossing Steamship Agency, he married a fellow Russian immigrant, Annie Berg in 1914 and, after their divorce a few years later, married a second time. Benjamin and Annie’s son, Melvin (1918-2007), studied Forestry at Massachusetts State College (BA 1940) and Yale (MF 1942) before enlisting in the Army Air Corps in Aug. 1942. Moved to active duty in 1943 as a communications specialist, he rose to the rank of Lieutenant. After he returned home, Mel met and married a recent Smith College graduate, Judith Resnick (1925-2011), with whom he raised three sons. The couple settled into a comfortable life in the Boston suburbs, where Mel carved out a successful career as a home inspector and educator while Judith became well known as a supporter of the arts and as one of the founders of Action For Children’s Television (1968), an important force in promoting quality television programing for children.

A massive archive documenting three generations of a Jewish family from Boston, the Chalfen family papers contain a rich body of photographs and letters, centered largely on the lives of Melvin and Judith Chalfen. The Chalfens were prolific correspondents and the collection includes hundreds of letters written home while Mal and Judy were in college and while Mel was serving in the Army Air Corps during the Second World War — most of these in Yiddish. The thousands of photographs cover a broader span of family history, beginning prior to emigration from Bessarabia into the 1960s. Among many other items of note are rough drafts of a New Deal sociological study of juvenile delinquency and the impact of boys’ clubs in the late 1930s prepared by Abraham Resnick (a Socialist community organizer and Judith’s father); materials from the progressive Everyman’s Theater (early 1960s); and nearly three feet of material documenting Judy Chalfen’s work with Action for Children’s Television.

Gift of the Chalfen family, 2011.
Language(s): Yiddish

Subjects

Action for Children's TelevisionJews--Massachusetts--BostonMassachusetts State College--StudentsSmith College--StudentsWorld War, 1939-1945

Contributors

Chalfen, BenjaminChalfen, Judith, 1925-2011Chalfen, Melvin H. (Melvin Howard), 1918-2007

Types of material

Photographs
Communist Party of Massachusetts

Communist Party of Massachusetts Collection

1932-1957
1 box 0.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 538

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.

Acquired from Eugene Povirk, 2008

Subjects

Antiwar movements--MassachusettsCommunists--MassachusettsElections--MassachusettsWorld War, 1939-1945

Contributors

Communist Party of Massachusetts

Types of material

BroadsidesFliers
Cooley, Bertha Strong

Bertha Strong Cooley Collection

1901-1949
1 box 0.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 506

An educator, farmer’s wife, and resident of South Deerfield, Massachusetts, Bertha Strong Cooley was an ardent Socialist who published regularly in local newspapers on topics ranging from anti-imperialism, democracy, capitalism, Communism, Russia, World War II, and civil rights.

The Cooley scrapbooks reflect the views of a teacher and farmer’s wife who used the newspapers to express her passion for social justice. Cooley ranged widely in responding to the news of the day, espousing Socialism and opposing racial injustice, war, imperialism, economic oppression, and Capitalism. One scrapbook contains writings by Cooley, the other clippings of articles dealing with topics of interest.

Subjects

African Americans--Civil rightsPacifists--MassachusettsRace relations--United StatesSocial justice--MassachusettsSocialists--MassachusettsWorld War, 1939-1945

Contributors

Cooley, Bertha Strong

Types of material

Letters to the editorScrapbooks
Democratic Socialist Conference

Democratic Socialist Conference Collection

1984-1991
2 boxes 0.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 325

Includes transcripts of papers delivered at conferences (1985-1990) on democratic socialism, and correspondence (1984-1991) between Stephen Siteman, former Executive Secretary of the Socialist Party of America, and Frank Zeidler, former Mayor of Milwaukee, Socialist Party candidate for President of the United States, and national chairperson of the Socialist Party USA.

Gift of Stephen Siteman, 1990, 1991

Subjects

Socialism--AfricaSocialist Party of the United States of AmericaUnited States--Politics and government--1981-1989United States--Politics and government--1989-1993

Contributors

Siteman, StephenZeidler, Frank P
Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963

W.E.B. Du Bois Papers

1803-1984
328 boxes 168.75 linear feet
Call no.: MS 312
Depiction of W.E.B. Du Bois
W.E.B. Du Bois

Scholar, writer, editor of The Crisis and other journals, co-founder of the Niagara Movement, the NAACP, and the Pan African Congresses, international spokesperson for peace and for the rights of oppressed minorities, W.E.B. Du Bois was a son of Massachusetts who articulated the strivings of African Americans and developed a trenchant analysis of the problem of the color line in the twentieth century.

The Du Bois Papers contain almost 165 linear feet of the personal and professional papers of a remarkable social activist and intellectual. Touching on all aspects of his long life from his childhood during Reconstruction through the end of his life in 1963, the collection reflects the extraordinary breadth of his social and academic commitments from research in sociology to poetry and plays, from organizing for social change to organizing for Black consciousness.

Acquired from Shirley Graham Du Bois, 1973

Subjects

African Americans--Civil rightsAfrican Americans--History--1877-1964Crisis (New York, N.Y.)Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963--Views on democracyNational Association for the Advancement of Colored PeoplePan-AfricanismUnited States--Race relations

Contributors

Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963

Types of material

Photographs
East Germany

East German Packaging Design Collection

ca.1955-1985
4 boxes 6 linear feet
Call no.: MS 519

The concept of product marketing in a Communist state may seem slightly incongruous, but in the countries of the Eastern Bloc, consumer goods were packaged and sold with much the same care as they were in the west. The Packaging Design Collection contains examples of quotidian products sold during the post-war period, ranging from boxes for soap powder to toothpaste, shampoo, and sugar sacks. The collection documents the visual language used on consumer products in East Germany and the evolution of graphic design in the Communist states of Eastern Europe from the 1950s through 1980s.

Gift of James and Sibylle Fraser, Nov. 2006

Subjects

Germany, EastPackaging--Design--Germany, East
East Germany

East German Book Collection

1948-1993
ca.300 vols. 13 linear feet
Call no.: RB 021

From the official optimism of the post-war years in East Germany through the dynamic press of the 1970s to the end of the regime in 1989, the state and its critics developed a distinctive print culture that was reflected in its literary and artistic output and in its popular and academic works.

The DDR collection contains miscellaneous volumes printed in East Germany, including literature and drama, touristic books, popular history, works on the arts, and a variety of academic and reference works.

Subjects

Germany (East)--History

Types of material

Books
Economic Research and Action Project (New Haven, Conn.)

Economic Research and Action Project (New Haven, Conn.) Records

1965
1 box .05 linear feet
Call no.: MS 949
War on Poverty Cartoon from ERAP Newsletter
War on Poverty cartoon from New Haven ERAP Newsletter, July 23, 1965

The Economic Research and Action Project (ERAP) was a community organizing project sponsored by the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). Begun in 1963, SDS activists began working in low-income urban neighborhoods to help residents come together to identify and agitate for shared needs. While practical goals included education and advocacy for welfare rights, youth programing such as free school lunches, and increasing minority participation in local politics, the program as a whole had grand aspirations of abolishing poverty and ending racial inequality through an interracial and community organized movement of the poor in America. The largest and longest lasting projects were located in Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, and Newark, but multiple cities had ERAP groups. While none achieved an ongoing interracial movement of the poor, all had lasting effects in bringing minority and urban resident voices to the SDS platform, in teaching the skills, obstacles, and possibilities of community organizing, and in encouraging individuals, both from SDS and local neighborhoods, to participate and engage with diverse people in seeking social change.

New Haven ERAP Records are a small but rich collection, mainly consisting of three summer of 1965 issues of the ERAP Newsletter from the New Haven Project. Additional materials include a clipping from the April 30, 1965 Life issue featuring photographs of New Haven ERAP members working in a “slum called The Hill;” two printed photographs from Life not used in the article; and a written report and supporting research interview on the failure of a New Haven corporation, Community Progress, Inc. to provide good services and comply with the requirements of the Economic Opportunity Act and the Community Action Program Guide.

Gift of Liz Blum, November 2016

Subjects

Activists—United StatesCommunity development, Urban -- United StatesSocial service—United StatesStudent movements – United StatesStudents for a Democratic Society (U.S.)

Contributors

Economic Research and Action Project

Types of material

NewslettersPhotographs