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Benjamin Gitlow Papers

Filing title: 
Gitlow (Benjamin) Papers

Papers of Benjamin Gitlow
MS0108

Summary Information

Repository
J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections, UNC Charlotte
Creator
Gitlow, Benjamin, 1891-1965
Title
Benjamin Gitlow papers
ID
MS0108
Date [bulk]
Bulk, 1949-1965
Date [inclusive]
1910-1968
Extent
7.25 Linear feet
General Physical Description note
ca. 4050 items
Language
English
Abstract
Papers of a co-founder of the Communist Labor Party and the Communist Party, USA (Majority Group), who later became an avid anti-Communist. Consists predominately of printed material dating from 1949-65, but also includes correspondence, speeches, writings, research notes, and financial records from all periods of his life.

Preferred Citation note

Benjamin Gitlow Papers. J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

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Biographical/Historical note

Benjamin Gitlow was born in Elizabethport, N.J. on December 22, 1891 to Russian immigrants. His father, Lewis Albert Gitlow, emigrated to the United States in 1888, while his mother, Kate, followed a year later. In 1909, Gitlow joined the Socialist Party. He organized and served as the first president of Retail Clerks Union of New York in 1913. As a Party candidate from the Bronx, Gitlow was elected to New York State Assembly in 1917. A year later, he joined the Left Wing Faction of Socialist Party. In 1919, Gitlow became manager of Revolutionary Age. That same year, the Left Wing faction was expelled from Socialist Party and Gitlow, John Reed, and James Larkin established the Communist Labor Party. In November, 1919, Gitlow and Larkin were arrested and charged with violating the New York State Criminal Anarchy Act and sentenced to 5 to 10 years in prison. He ran as the Communist Party candidate for mayor of New York City in 1921. Released from prison in 1922, Gitlow then ran for Vice President of the United States on the Communist Party in 1924 and 1928. Although the United States Supreme Court upheld Gitlow's conviction in 1925, New York Governor Al Smith subsequently pardoned him. He visited Soviet Russia for the first time in 1927 and returned in 1928 and 1929. He again ran for Vice President of the United States in 1928. Soviet leader Joseph Stalin expelled him from the Party in 1929. This provided the impetus for Gitlow, along with Jay Lovestone, Bertram Wolfe, and others, to organize Communist Party, USA (Majority Group). Gitlow again found himself being expelled, in 1933, by the Community Party, USA. Over the next two years, he was a founding member and principal leader of three successive small organizations: Workers Communist League, Labor Party Association, and Organization Committee for a Revolutionary Workers Party. After rejoining the Socialist Party in 1934, he resigned shortly thereafter. His first public rejection of Communist Party came in 1939 with testimony before U.S. House Committee on Un-American Activities. The following year he published I Confess: The Truth About American Communism. During the 1940s and 1950s, Gitlow proved popular as writer and lecturer on anti-Communist topics. In 1948, he published his second book, The Whole of Their Lives: Communism in America: A Personal History and Intimate Portrayal of Its Leaders. Gitlow married Badana Zeitlin in 1924. He died on July, 19, 1965 in Crompond, N.Y. [For additional biographical information, see Gitlow's own books, his unpublished autobiographical sketch in series 4, folder 14, "Benjamin Gitlow," pp. 290-92 in Dictionary of American Biography, supplement 7.]

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Scope and Contents note

The Gitlow Papers document Gitlow's activities for almost half a century, both as a Communist and an anti-Communist. The papers include correspondence, speeches, writings, research notes, financial records, and a large amount of printed material. The material from Gitlow's Communist period is smaller in quantity than that from his anti-Communist years, and it consists predominately of his own writings. Among the highlights are correspondence between Gitlow and his family during the first two years of his imprisonment (series 1.3); letters he wrote to his wife while in Moscow in 1929 concerning his fight with Stalin (series 1.3); material about attempted Communist infiltration into labor unions (series 3); and copies of his speeches, essays, and pamphlets in praise of Communism (series 4). The collection also includes a small amount of correspondence with or material about James Larkin, Louise Bryant (wife of John Reed), Jay Lovestone, and Max Eastman. Except for material about his first book, I Confess, in series 1.1 and 4, the papers contain little substantive material from the mid 1930s until the late 1940s. The bulk of the collection dates from about 1949 through 1965, the year of Gitlow's death. Series 3, publications, is the largest series in the collection and contains hundreds of pamphlets, newsletters, reports, and other publications, most of which were issued by anti-Communist groups. The other series reveal in some detail Gitlow's own activities and his changed attitude toward Communism. Series 2 contains all of the working papers for Theatre for Freedom, a short lived organization Gitlow founded in 1950 to use the entertainment industry in his fight against Communism. Also of importance are the speeches, drafts of articles and books, and research notes in series 4. Significant correspondents from this period are Alfred Kohlberg, Herbert Hoover, Alf Landon, Adolphe Menjou, Senator Karl Mundt (R-SD), and Eugene Lyons. The UNC Charlotte Library purchased Gitlow's library and what was believed to be the complete collection of his papers from his widow in 1973. It was later discovered that the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University had previously acquired some of Gitlow's papers from Myers G. Lowman of the anti-Communist organization known as the Circuit Riders, Inc. Both collections include material from the same time periods, but they do not seem to duplicate each other as to content. The Hoover collection, however, does contain a substantial amount of material from the 1930s. (See Hoover Institution register appended to this description.) Gitlow's library consisted of more than 700 books, which were dispersed in the regular library collection. A partial list of these books is in the collection file.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections, UNC Charlotte 1985

9201 University City Blvd.
Charlotte, NC, 28223
704-687-1170
spec-coll@uncc.edu

Conditions Governing Access note

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use note

Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.

Processing Information note

Processed by Johanna Mims, 1985.

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Related Materials

Related Archival Materials note

Benjamin Gitlow Papers, Hoover Institution, Stanford University.

Related Archival Materials note

Harold Josephson, "The Dynamics of Repression: New York during the Red Scare," Mid America, 59 (October, 1977), pp. 131-46; and "Political Justice during the Red Scare: The Trial of Benjamin Gitlow," pp. 153-75 in Michael Belknap, ed., American Political Trials (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1981).

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Communist Party of the United States of America.

Geographic Name(s)

  • United States--Politics and government

Personal Name(s)

  • Gitlow, Benjamin, 1891-1965

Subject(s)

  • Anti-communist movements--United States
  • Propaganda, Anti-communist

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Collection Inventory

Series 1: CORRESPONDENCE 1910-1968

Arrangement note

This series has been divided into 3 subseries: General Correspondence; Subject Correspondence; and Personal Correspondence.

Series 1.1: GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE 1917-1968

Scope and Contents note

This subseries contains correspondence to and from Gitlow on a variety of topics; arranged chronologically.

Box Folder

GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE 1917-1921

Scope and Contents note

Includes material from the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, Kate Gitlow's Socialist Consumer League, the New York Socialist Party, Gitlow Larkin defense committees, a legal brief concerning Gitlow's mayoral candidacy, and a letter (1-14-21) from Theodore Debs about his brother Eugene.

1 1

GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE 1926-1937

Scope and Contents note

Includes correspondence with Jay Lovestone and others concerning the CPUSA (Majority Group) and its journal Revolutionary Age and material from the American Fund for Public Service.

1 2

GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE 1939-1948

Scope and Contents note

Includes Gitlow's response (1939 or 1940) to Elizabeth Gurley Flynn's criticism of his break with the Party.

1 3

GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE 1949-1953

Scope and Contents note

Includes letter (7-7-51) from J. Edgar Hoover.

1 4

GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE 1954-1962

1 5-6

GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE 1963-1968

Scope and Contents note

Includes form letters (5/63, 9/64, 5/65) from Martin Luther King Jr.

1 7

Series 1.2: SUBJECT CORRESPONDENCE 1933-1965

Scope and Contents note

This subseries, arranged alphabetically by folder title, has been maintained much as Gitlow himself organized it. Most of the correspondence dates from Gitlow's anti-Communist period and pertains to political matters. There is a small amount of material concerning his business and personal affairs.

Box Folder

A 1950-1962

Scope and Contents note

(Miscellaneous)

1 1

AMERICAN JEWISH LEAGUE AGAINST COMMUNISM 1949-1962

Scope and Contents note

[See also folders 11, 14-15]

1 2-3

AUTHOR'S GUILD 1941

1 4

BILLS AND EXPENSES 1941-1956

1 5

BRADEN CASE 1955

Scope and Contents note

Material concerning Gitlow's testimony against Carl and Anne Braden for their alleged membership in the CPUSA and communist front organizations.

1 6

BYRITE PAPER CO. 1957-1959

1 7

B 1950s

Scope and Contents note

(Miscellaneous)

1 8

C 1951-1953

Scope and Contents note

(Miscellaneous)

1 9

EASTMAN, MAX 1933-1948

Scope and Contents note

Includes an exchange of letters between Gitlow and Eastman concerning Leon Trotsky (1933) and a copy of Eastman's review of I Confess (1939).

1 10

EMANUEL, VICTOR 1959

1 11

HOOVER, HERBERT 1940-1955

Scope and Contents note

Includes 6 brief responses from Hoover to Gitlow [see also series 2, folders 14, 46].

1 12

J 1951

Scope and Contents note

(Miscellaneous)

1 13

KOHLBERG, ALFRED 1941-1962

Scope and Contents note

Consists primarily of material about "Red" China; includes speech by and correspondence with Alf Landon about Korea (1951) and items concerning alleged Communist infiltration into the American Jewish Congress (folder 15). [See also folders 2 3]

1 14-15

(entry cancelled)

Box Folder

M 1950

Scope and Contents note

Miscellaneous material containing small amount of material about a mock communist coup staged in Mosinee, Wis., by the American Legion (5-1-50).

1 17

MOHEGAN COLONY 1933-65

1 18

PUBLISHERS 1939-40, 1955

1 19

ROSENFIELD, BIG JOE (July August, 1950)

1 20

ROSENFIELD, BIG JOE (November December, 1950) fan letters sent to New York City radio personality commenting on his broadcasts. Gitlow appeared on his show (12-4-50).

2 21

S 1951-1963

Scope and Contents note

(Miscellaneous)

2 22

Series 1.3: PERSONAL CORRESPONDENCE 1910-1956

Box Folder

BENJAMIN AND BADANA GITLOW 1925-1956 (Bulk, 1929)

Scope and Contents note

Includes Gitlow's letters to his wife while he was in Moscow in 1929 prior to and just after being expelled from the Party by Stalin.

2 2

BENJAMIN AND BEN GITLOW JR. 1946-1951

2 3

LOUISE BRYANT 1920-1922

Scope and Contents note

Includes copy of letter from Bryant in Moscow to Max Eastman describing John Reed's death and Gitlow's response to her while in prison.

2 5

PARENTS AND FRIENDS 1910-1932 (Bulk, 1920-1921)

Scope and Contents note

Contains letters between Gitlow and his mother while he was in prison (1920-21).

2 1

TRIP TO EUROPE 1949

Scope and Contents note

Correspondence concerning Gitlow's work collecting books and documents for the Hoover Institution and his search for material for a new book.

2 4

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Series 2: THEATRE FOR FREEDOM 1950-1951

Scope and Contents note

This series contains correspondence, financial records, scripts, publicity material, and all working papers for a group Gitlow organized to recruit members of the entertainment industry to the anti-Communist cause and to produce anti-Communist documentary dramas. Gitlow was executive director, and John Wayne was president. (Wayne apparently was a figure head only for the collection contains no material from him.) Correspondents include Anne Baxter, Ralph Bellamy, Adolphe Menjou, George Murphy, Eugene Lyons, Gloria Swanson, and Senator Karl Mundt (R-SD). The group produced a radio broadcast, "The Right to Freedom," and planned a stage play, "Raise the Iron Curtain," which was apparently never produced.

Box Folder

ANDOVER PRESS

2 1

AUDITOR'S REPORT

2 2

A

Scope and Contents note

(Miscellaneous)

2 3

BAUMAN

2 4

BILLS--PAID

2 5

BILLS--UNPAID

2 6

BREWER, ROY M.

2 7

BULLETINS

2 8

B

Scope and Contents note

(Miscellaneous)

2 9

CARNEGIE HALL

2 1

COCKTAIL PARTY

2 1

C

Scope and Contents note

(Miscellaneous)

2 1

D

Scope and Contents note

(Miscellaneous)

2 1

DECLINATIONS

Scope and Contents note

Includes 2 letters from Herbert Hoover and 1 letter from Dwight David Eisenhower declining election to the National Advisory Board.

2 1

E

Scope and Contents note

(Miscellaneous)

2 1

FORM LETTERS

Scope and Contents note

Includes information on close of operations.

2 1

F-G

Scope and Contents note

(Miscellaneous)

2 1

I-J

Scope and Contents note

(Miscellaneous)

2 2

KAUFMAN & RICH

2 2

KROL, T.

2 2

K

Scope and Contents note

(Miscellaneous)

2 2

LEGAL DOCUMENTS

2 2

LISTS

2 2

LYONS, EUGENE

2 2

L

Scope and Contents note

(Miscellaneous)

2 2

MALAMUTH, CHARLES

2 2

MCGUINESS, CHARLES

2 3

MEMBERSHIP

2 3

MENJOU, ADOLPHE

2 3

MERRILL, HOWARD

2 3

MONTGOMERY, ROBERT

2 3

M

Scope and Contents note

(Miscellaneous)

2 3

NATIONAL BOARD OF SPONSORS

2 3

[entry cancelled]

Box Folder

N

Scope and Contents note

(Miscellaneous)

3 3

OFFICE MATERIAL

3 4

O

Scope and Contents note

(Miscellaneous)

3 4

PETROV, VLADIMIR

3 4

PETTY CASH

3 4

PUBLICITY

3 4

P

Scope and Contents note

(Miscellaneous)

3 4

RAISE THE IRON CURTAIN

Scope and Contents note

Includes letter from Herbert Hoover, script, and reaction to play.

3 4

RYSKIND, MORRIE

3 4

R

Scope and Contents note

(Miscellaneous)

3 4

S-V

Scope and Contents note

(Miscellaneous)

3 5

WAYNE, JOHN

Scope and Contents note

Includes Gitlow's letters to and about Wayne but no material from him.

3 5

W-Z

Scope and Contents note

(Miscellaneous)

3 5

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Series 3: PUBLICATIONS 1918-1965

Scope and Contents note

This series contains some of the hundreds of pamphlets, newsletters, and other ephemeral publications Gitlow received throughout his life. Most of the material dates from the 1950s and 1960s and is overwhelmingly anti-Communist in tone. A small amount of material survives from Gitlow's years as a Communist, and some of the material from the later period is leftist or Communist in origin. Because of the varying characteristics of the publications, it has not been possible to arrange them in a single organizational scheme.

Box Folder

AMERICAN SECURITY COUNCIL 1962-1966

4 17
Box

BOOKS AND PAMPHLETS 1918, 1940s 1950s

Scope and Contents note

Includes copy of the New York State Assembly's legislative manual (The Red Book) with Gitlow's biography and picture. The other materials are miscellaneous pamphlets.

6

BOOKS AND PAMPHLETS 1960S

7
Box Folder

CHINA 1948-1965

3 1-2

CHINESE NEWS SERVICE 1962-1963

Scope and Contents note

[See also folders 24-25]

4 18

CHRISTIAN ANTI-COMMUNIST CRUSADE 1962-1965

4 19

CHRISTIAN CRUSADE 1962-1964

Scope and Contents note

[See also folder 33]

5 20
Box

CIRCUIT RIDERS 1955-1965 (Bulk, 1963-1964)

Scope and Contents note

Contains material (1955-65) from the Circuit Riders, Inc. and the Twentieth Century Evangelism organization about alleged communist sympathizers or fellow travellers among educators and clergymen; also includes report (1963-64) from the Louisiana Joint Legislative Committee on Un American Activities about the Southern Conference Educational Fund.

8
Box Folder

CIVIL RIGHTS 1959-1965

3 3-4

CLIPPINGS 1941-1963

Scope and Contents note

Includes some material about Gitlow.

4 15

COUNCIL AGAINST COMMUNIST AGGRESSION 1954-1965

5 21-22

ECONOMIC NEWS 1961-1963

Scope and Contents note

Published by American Institute for Economic Research

5 23

FREE CHINA WEEKLY

Scope and Contents note

[See also folder 18]

5 24-25

GOLDWATER, BARRY--PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 1964

3 5

HUMAN EVENTS 1949, 1960-62

5 26

JUDAISM 1939-1962

3 6

LEGISLATIVE NEWSLETTER (AMERICANS FOR DEMOCRATIC ACTION) 1962-1965

5 27

MISCELLANEOUS PUBLICATIONS 1919-1940

Scope and Contents note

Includes clippings about Gitlow's trial; flyers and pamphlets from communist, socialist, and labor groups; and brochure from the 1924 LaFollette for President Committee. Folder 8B includes bound copy of Revolutionary Age (1929-30), edited by Gitlow. See series 1.1 for related material. Arranged chronologically.

3 8A-8B

MISCELLANEOUS PUBLICATIONS 1941-1965

4 9-14
Map-case

MISCELLANEOUS PUBLICATIONS--OVERSIZE MATERIAL 1920

Scope and Contents note

Issue of The Irish Felon about Jim Larkin (September, 1920).

MC1.9:3
Box Folder

NAZISM 1930s

3 7

NEW GUARD (YOUNG AMERICANS FOR FREEDOM) 1961-1963

5 28

NEW LEADER 1949-1963

5 29

NEWS AND VIEWS 1954-1962

5 30

NEWSLETTERS 1949-1966

Scope and Contents note

Arranged alphabetically by name of sponsoring group or publisher or by title.

4 17-35

NEWSPAPERS 1952-1963

4 16

PROBLEMS OF COMMUNISM (U.S. INFORMATION AGENCY) 1959-1965

5 31-32

UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF STATE 1960s

Scope and Contents note

Includes material on U.S. role in Vietnam.

5 34-35

WEEKLY CRUSADER 1962-1963

Scope and Contents note

[see also folder 20]

5 33

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Series 4: WRITINGS circa 1917-circa 1965

Scope and Contents note

This series contains printed copies of pamphlets and articles by Gitlow; manuscript and typescript drafts of his articles, speeches, and a projected book; research notes; reviews; and other material about his writings and lectures. A brief autobiography is in folder 14.

Box Folder

AUTOBIOGRAPHY

9 14

"THE EXPENDABLES" undated

Scope and Contents note

Television play by Robert Patrick Wilmot and George Baker.

9 1

I CONFESS 1939-1953

Scope and Contents note

Includes correspondence and reviews of Gitlow's first book. [See also series 1.1, folder 3.]

9 2-4

LECTURE OUTLINES undated

Scope and Contents note

(Anti-Communist period)

9 6

LECTURES undated

Scope and Contents note

(Anti-Communist period)

9 5

LECTURES AND EARLY WRITINGS circa 1917-circa 1933

9 7

MISCELLANEOUS NOTES undated

Scope and Contents note

Includes outlines, drafts of speeches or articles and notes on alleged Communists or Communist sympathizers.

9 8A-8B

MISCELLANEOUS NOTES

Scope and Contents note

Possibly for a book.

9 11

PUBLICATIONS 1920-1962

Scope and Contents note

Printed copies of pamphlets and articles by Gitlow, including his address to the jury at his trial (1920); two pamphlets from the 1930s, apparently written while secretary of the Communist Party USA (Majority Group); and articles published by the right wing Christian Crusade (1960s).

9 10

TYPESCRIPTS OF ARTICLES

Scope and Contents note

(Anti-Communist period)

9 9A-9B

"WHITHER REVOLUTION"

Scope and Contents note

Notes for a possible book.

9 12

THE WHOLE OF THEIR LIVES 1946-50, 1965

Scope and Contents note

Includes routine correspondence with Maxwell Perkins, radio script, adaptation for projected movie (1965), and copy of 1965 paperback edition published by The Americanist Library.

9 13

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Series 5: MISCELLANEOUS 1939

Box Folder

BUSINESS MATERIAL 1939

2 1

SCRAPBOOK undated

Scope and Contents note

Includes clippings, financial records, and various writings.

2 2

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PHOTOGRAPHS--PRINTS

box:folder
P11:5
box:folder Photographs-Prints

Benjamin Gitlow singing 1955

Scope and Contents note

[see letter from A. Scott Hamilton]

P11:5 P108/1

John Reed 1919

P11:5 P108/2

Benjamin Gitlow (front row, far right) with military officials 1940s

P11:5 P108/3

United Council of Working Women 1920s

P11:5 P108/4-6

Benjamin Gitlow as an infant, New York, N.Y. 1892

P11:5 P108/7

Harry Winitsky undated

Scope and Contents note

[note on back: "Class War Prisoners in NY state also Larkin and Mizker"]

P11:5 P108/8

James Larkin undated

P11:5 P108/9

Klara Zetkin (center) at a demonstration in Moscow 1919

P11:5 P108/10

Marie Kerney, actress for the Theatre For Freedom, New York, N.Y. 1950

P11:5 P108/11

Franklin Pulaski undated

P11:5 P108/12

Meta Muntz, New York, N.Y. 1915

P11:5 P108/13

George ? (1926?)

Scope and Contents note

[note on back: "To my comrade Ben and his wifie Badana"]

P11:5 P108/14

Unidentified woman undated

Scope and Contents note

[note on back: "I am sending you my wife to keep her over the Holly days."]

P11:5 P108/15

Unidentified group of people, USSR 1920s

P11:5 P108/16a

Unidentified people undated

P11:5 P108/16b-22

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