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Overview

Most scholarly research on American communism and the Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA) has focused on the McCarthy era and the Cold War--reactions to Communism untempered by the internal perspectives of the CPUSA itself.

The Earl Browder Papers offers in one unique microfilm collection a large portion of that missing research link and provides perhaps the closest thing to party archives in existence. The papers included will be of major interest to any institution supporting programs in political science, sociology, legal and labor history, economics, or American history.

Earl Browder's place in history as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the United States of America from 1929-1944 corresponds precisely to that time when the party had its greatest impact on American politics and labor. The arrangement of the collection into the six segments listed below facilitates objective scholarly studies of the party, offering a detailed chronicle of party activities and programs encompassing party leaders, sympathizers, and critics.

 

Contents of the Collection Series I--Correspondence, 1891-1960. This section contains:

 

  • correspondence within the party
  • family correspondence that crosses lines with Browder's political activities, such as the material involving the U.S. Government's attempt to deport Browder's wife, Raissa
  • letters between Browder and his family while he was in prison on passport violation, a conviction from which President Roosevelt pardoned him in 1941
  • correspondence from many radical leaders of the day, as well as from organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the United Labor Council of America

Series II--Subject Files, 1904-1960. Concentrates heavily on the workings of the Communist Party and Browder's role in it. Included are minutes, reports, financial data, and legal matters pertaining to the party, both in the United States and other countries.

Series III--Manuscripts, 1924-1967. Includes many of Browder's published lectures, speeches, articles, pamphlets, and books. Also featured are unpublished manuscripts, news releases, and Browder's reports to the National Committee and National Convention of the Communist Party.

Series IV--Photographs, 1901-1941. Included are 53 photographs of Browder, his family and friends, and various prominent American Communists such as James W. Ford, William Z. Foster, and Ella Reeve Bloor.

Series V--Legal Files, 1938-1958. Contains correspondence, reports, depositions, testimonies, transcripts of court proceedings, briefs, and other papers pertaining to various court cases involving Browder.

Series VI--Published Materials, 1921-1975. This section features Communist periodicals and bulletins, proceedings of the National Convention of the Communist Party of the United States of America from 1921 to 1972, and over 400 pamphlets.

 

Without this body of documents, it would be impossible to objectively assess the Communist Party's impact on the political, economic, and social history of our country.

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