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HIST 161J: Communism and Anticommunism in the 20th Century U.S.: Materials Used in Class Session

The following entries highlight the archival collection materials used in the class session held in the Gates classroom, Manuscripts and Archives, Sterling Memorial Library, on Monday, March 14th, 2022.

While you're exploring the collection box in front of you and preparing to tell your fellow students something about the materials it contains, it may be useful to consider some of the following questions:

  1. Who created the materials you're looking at? When and where were they created?
  2. What is going on in the folders you looked at? What is the context for the document(s)? For what purpose(s) were they created?
  3. Whose perspective(s) comes through in the document(s) you examined? Whose doesn’t?
  4. How do the materials relate to the readings and discussions you've been having in this course so far?
  5. What questions do the materials raise?
  6. Did anything surprise you when looking at the folders in your collection?

Gus Hall Papers (MS 2113) - Manuscripts & Archives, Sterling Memorial Library

Link to the finding aid for this collection in Archives at Yale

Overview: Gus Hall (1910-2000) was an activist, politician, and prominent member of the Communist Party of the United States, and was one of the people arrested in the 1949-1958 Smith Act trials of Communist Party leaders. The Gus Hall Papers contain the professional papers of Hall throughout his time as secretary-general and president of the Communist Party of the United States of America as well as his personal correspondence to his family during his time in jail.

Collection materials used in class session:

American Immigration Conference Board Records (MS 614) - Manuscripts & Archives, Sterling Memorial Library

Link to the finding aid for this collection in Archives at Yale

Overview: Correspondence, writings, printed materials, clippings, and other papers of the American Immigration Conference Board, an anti-communist organization devoted primarily to severely limiting immigration. The papers also contain materials relating to various immigration legislation during the 1930s.

Collection materials used in class session:

Frank J. Donner Papers (MS 1706) - Manuscripts & Archives, Sterling Memorial Library

Link to the finding aid for this collection in Archives at Yale

Overview: Clippings, court documents, correspondence, publications, interview transcripts, writings, and other materials documenting the research, writing, and activism of Frank Donner, a leading expert on the use of political surveillance in the United States. The collection includes a small amount of Donner's correspondence, multiple files documenting the activities of individuals who served as political informers, and subject files covering a range of political and social protest groups from the 1950s to the 1990s. The papers also hold a series of Donner's writings, including manuscripts from two unpublished books on the use of informers in the 1950s and of government malfeasance during the 1980s, as well as several unpublished articles.

Collection materials used in class session:

Rose Pastor Stokes Papers (MS 573) - Manuscripts & Archives, Sterling Memorial Library

Link to the finding aid for this collection in Archives at Yale

Overview: Correspondence, writings, printed material, clippings, and other papers of Rose Pastor Stokes, writer, artist, and radical political and social activist. Much of the material relates to Stokes's activities and involvement with various radical groups, including the American Communist Party and the Socialist Party. The correspondence reflects these involvements and contains many letters exchanged with American political radicals, labor leaders, and anarchists from the early 20th century.

Collection materials used in class session:

Duncan Chaplin Lee and John Lee Papers (MS 2062) - Manuscripts & Archives, Sterling Memorial Library

Link to the finding aid for this collection in Archives at Yale

Overview: Personal papers of Duncan Chaplin Lee (Yale College Class of 1935) and his son, John Lee. Materials include Duncan Chaplin Lee’s correspondence, writings, photographs, and biographical material regarding his personal and work life. Key within these materials are documents that chronicle Lee’s evolving interest in Marxism-Leninism in the 1930s, his military service, and the events that surfaced after he was accused of espionage in 1948. This material was then used by historian Mark A. Bradley in his book, A Very Principled Boy: The Life of Duncan Lee, Red Spy and Cold Warrior. The papers of John Lee contain correspondence and research materials related to Duncan Chaplin Lee and the controversy surrounding his life and legacy. 

Collection materials used in class session:

  • Series I, Box 1, folder 10: Correspondence, chronological, 1936-1937. Primarily letters to his mother while on a Rhodes Scholarship at Christ Church College, Oxford University.

A. Whitney Griswold, President of Yale University, Records (RU 22) - Manuscripts & Archives, Sterling Memorial Library

Link to the finding aid for this collection in Archives at Yale

Overview: Correspondence, subject files, reports, planning memoranda, and miscellaneous biographical material documenting A. Whitney Griswold's activities as president of Yale University. Included are materials concerning alumni relations; academic freedom and Communism; funds, gifts, trusts, and other development activities; Yale committees; athletics and the Ivy League; admissions; Yale commencements; relations with the city of New Haven; the Association of American Universities; the publication of William F. Buckley, Jr.'s book, God and Man at Yale; the Masters of Arts in Teaching program; and the National Defense Education Act. 

Collection materials used in class session: ​​​​​​

  • Series I, Box 2, folder 13: Academic freedom, "Counterattack" correspondence re: Law School professors Emerson, Harper, Northrop, et al, 1951-1953.

Rebecca West Collection (GEN MSS 239) - Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Link to the finding aid for this collection in Archives at Yale

Overview: Letters to and from West, including extensive correspondences with Emanie Sachs Arling and Doris Stevens, as well as letters from Norman Mackenzie, Sara Tugander Melville, Jonathan Mitchell, Harold F. Rubinstein, and Reginald Turner; miscellaneous writings by West; and correspondence and memorabilia of West assembled by Gordon S. Haight. Rebecca West (1892-1983) is the pseudonym of Dame Cicely Isabel Fairfield, British journalist and novelist. Doris Stevens (1888-1963) was an American suffragist, women's legal rights advocate, and author.

Collection materials used in class session:

Right-Wing Pamphlet Collection (MS 775) - Manuscripts & Archives, Sterling Memorial Library

Link to the finding aid for this collection in Archives at Yale

Overview: Collection of pamphlets assembled by staff of the Yale University Library from a variety of sources and containing "conservative, reactionary, or right wing" publications on a wide range of topics including: China, anti-communism, Christian groups, race relations, and economics, 1917-2010.

Collection materials used in class session:

Victor Jeremy Jerome Papers (MS 589) - Manuscripts & Archives, Sterling Memorial Library

Link to the finding aid for this collection in Archives at Yale

Overview: Correspondence, writings, research notes, biographical material, obituaries and eulogies, and other personal and family papers of Victor J. Jerome, American communist, writer, editor of Political Affairs, and political activist. The bulk of the papers relate primarily to Jerome's activities with the American Communist Party during the period from 1930 to 1965. Of special interest is correspondence relating to Jerome's trial and conviction for violation of the Smith Act (1952); correspondence with Dashiell Hammett relating to "The Committee to Defend V. J. Jerome" (1952); prison correspondence (1953-1957); and correspondence with notable American communists relating to the organization of the Communist Party in the United States.

Collection materials used in class session:

Harry W. Selden Right-Wing Materials Collection (MS 2069) - Manuscripts & Archives, Sterling Memorial Library

Link to the finding aid for this collection in Archives at Yale

Overview: Pamphlets, newsletters, and other materials collected by Harry W. Selden (1915-2003), Virginia farmer and member of the John Birch Society, concerning conservative and right-wing politics and activism from the 1950s to the 1980s. Materials include newsletters, pamphlets, mass mailings, flyers, press clippings and photocopies, correspondence, and other printed and published materials. The material covers a wide range of topics, including the United Nations, disarmament, anti-communism, and Republican and conservative politics, and represents a large number of right-wing organizations. 

Collection materials used in class session:

Charles Parsons Papers (MS 387) - Manuscripts & Archives, Sterling Memorial Library

Link to the finding aid for this collection in Archives at Yale

Overview: Correspondence, speeches, writings, scrapbooks, printed matter, clippings and memorabilia of Charles Parsons, bibliophile and conservative polemicist and ideologist. Also included are some papers of Parsons' wife, Mary Elizabeth Curry Parsons, and speeches and writings of friends and associates of Parsons. Most of the papers are related to Parsons' advocacy and support of various conservative and anti-communist causes and issues, with the bulk of the material covering the period 1934-1965.

Collection materials used in class session:

Max Shachtman Correspondence with Leon Trotsky (GEN MSS 297) - Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Link to the finding aid for this collection in Archives at Yale

Overview: Correspondence between Leon Trotsky (1879-1940) and Max Shachtman (1904-1972) concerning the Communist opposition in the 1930s, especially in the United States. Trotsky was a Marxist revolutionary, theorist, and politician. Shachtman was an American Marxist theorist and activist. Trotsky's letters are in German and Shachtman's are in English.

Collection materials used in class session:

John Punnett Peters Papers (MS 897) - Manuscripts & Archives, Sterling Memorial Library

Link to the finding aid for this collection in Archives at Yale

Overview: Correspondence, reports, writings, and personal papers of John Punnett Peters. The papers primarily document his crusade for national health insurance and his support for progressive causes and include materials on his disloyalty charge. Copies of many of his writings and speeches and personal correspondence and papers are also included. Peters, a physician, received his A.B. degree from Yale in 1908, and his medical degree from the College of Physicians and Surgeons (Columbia) in 1913. He was an instructor of clinical medicine at Columbia (1916-1917), a fellow at the Russell Sage Institute (1917-1920), and an associate professor of medicine at Vanderbilt (1920-1921). From 1921 until his death in 1955, Peters was associated with the Yale Medical School and the New Haven Hospital and New Haven Dispensary.

Collection materials used in class session:

Dwight Macdonald Papers (MS 730) - Manuscripts & Archives, Sterling Memorial Library

Link to the finding aid for this collection in Archives at Yale

Overview: Correspondence, manuscripts, notes, printed material, photographs, audiotapes, and memorabilia documenting the personal life and professional career of Dwight Macdonald (Yale College Class of 1928). Macdonald's literary career, political activities, teaching and speaking engagements, and personal life are detailed. Major subjects represented in the papers include: communism and the Trotskyite movement, journalism and publishing, American social and political life (1920s-1970s), pacifism, and the Congress for Cultural Freedom. Correspondence files include letters with many prominent intellectual and political figures.

Collection materials used in class session: