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Guide to the Papers of Joseph Dallet, Jr. ALBA.032

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
10th Floor
New York, NY 10012
(212) 998-2630

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

Collection processed by Jodi Helman

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on July 20, 2017
Finding aid written in English

 Record edited by Rachel Searcy to reflect 2016 accretion  , October 2016

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Dallet, Joe, 1907-1937
Title: Joseph Dallet Papers
Dates [inclusive]: 1926-1946
Abstract: Joseph Dallet, Jr. (1907-1937) was a labor organizer and Communist Party activist. He volunteered with the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Civil War and was killed in action in October 1937. The bulk of the collection is correspondence from Dallet to his family during the 1920s and early 1930s, describing his political and labor-movement work. Also included are political materials and sympathy correspondence to the family after his death in Spain.
Quantity: 0.75 Linear Feet in 2 manuscript boxes
Language: Materials are in English.
Call Phrase: ALBA.032

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Historical/Biographical Note

Joseph Dallet, Jr.(1907-1937) was born into an affluent family in Woodmere, NY on Long Island. His parents, Joseph Sr. and Hilda, provided a childhood filled with cultural and educational opportunities and travel. Dallet attended the Woodmere Academy prior to high school, and eventually enrolled at Dartmouth University. He would have graduated in 1927, but became disillusioned with formal education and left. After working for a short time in the insurance business, he moved in 1928 to the Midwest and became involved with the labor movement. Repudiating his privileged background, he worked as a longshoreman in the late 1920s and in the steel mills of Pennsylvania and Ohio in the early 1930s. A militant labor organizer, he joined the Communist Party, U.S.A. in 1929. In the same year he married his first wife, Barbara Rand, who was also active in the labor movement; they would later divorce. During the next several years he lived in Pennsylvania and Ohio, where he became a member of the Communist Party of Ohio. Known as a political militant who affected a tough, pseudo-proletarian style, he became a well-known figure in working-class communities throughout the Midwest, organizing rallies, leading meetings and giving speeches. He ran for mayor of Youngstown, OH on the Communist ticket in 1935. In 1934 Dallet met and married his second wife, Katherine (Kitty) Peunig (later to become Mrs. J. Robert Oppenheimer).

Dallet's interests eventually turned toward helping the Spanish Republic defeat General Franco and his fascist rebels. He signed on with the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in New York, and in March of 1937 sailed to Europe with plans to enter Spain via the French border. On March 27th, however, he and a group of volunteers were arrested just off the coast of Spain by French authorities. After serving twenty-one days in prison, Dallet tried again to make his way to Spain, succeeding on April 22nd by way of the Pyrenees. Because of his years of political and organizing experience, Dallet was appointed as a Commissar, with responsibilities for political indoctrination, education, and morale-building, in the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion, a unit comprised of both Canadian and U.S. volunteers. The Battalion was mustered into the International Brigade in July 1937. Dallet was sometimes resentful of the political assignment that kept him from front-line action, and his harsh, authoritarian leadership style drew criticism from the ranks. At last he got his chance, and on October 17, 1937, while leading his unit into battle on the Aragon Front, he was shot and killed. At the time of his death, Kitty was on her way to Paris in hopes of traveling to Spain to visit him, and to work in some capacity for the Loyalist cause.


  • Dallet, Joseph, Jr., Letters from Spain by Joe Dallet American Volunteer, To His Wife. New York: Workers Library Publishers, 1938.
  • Nelson, Steve, James Barrett, and Rob Ruch, Steve Nelson: American Radical (Pittsburgh, PA: Pittsburgh University Press, 1981).

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Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of correspondence written by Joe Dallet to his family; correspondence by Dallet family members to each other, including his letters from his wives Barbara Rand Dallet and Katherine (Kitty) Puenig Dallet; political and labor materials, and obituary notices.

Series I: Correspondence, 1926-1938. Dallet's letters describe the labor movement in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Illinois. Of interest is a letter to his family telling of his secret marriage to his first wife, Barbara Rand, in 1929. In a 1931 letter he mentions his admiration for William Z. Foster, the Chairman of the Communist Party, U.S.A. Several letters are written on the backs of labor leaflets and notices. One folder contains correspondence between Joseph Dallet, Sr., and the U.S. State Department regarding efforts to determine the whereabouts of Joe, Jr., after his arrest in France. Only six letters in the collection were written from Spain; one of these involves a lengthy narrative addressed to Dallet's comrades in Ohio. Kitty Dallet gives details of Joe's life in Spain in her correspondence to the Dallet family.

Series II: Subject Files, 1929-1946. Labor and political materials include leaflets, flyers and mayoral candidacy notices. There are also and obituary and memorial clippings, a memorial poem by Dallet's sister, Peg, a life insurance policy, and an article by Dallet in The American Teacher.


Files of Dallet's correspondence are arranged chronologically, followed by correspondence of others, arranged alphabetically by category; subject files are arranged alphabetically by topic.

The collection is arranged in two series: I. Correspondence, and II. Subject Files.

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Oppenheimer, Katherine P. (Katherine Puening), 1910?-1972.
  • Foster, William Z., 1881-1961.
  • Dallet, Joe, 1907-1937

Document Type

  • Personal papers.
  • Correspondence.

Subject Organizations

  • Communist Party of the United States of America
  • Spain. Ejercito Popular de la Republica. MacKenzie-Papineau Battalion
  • Spain. Ejercito Popular de la Republica. Abraham Lincoln Battalion

Subject Topics

  • Spain -- History -- Civil War, 1936-1939.

Subject Places

  • Spain -- History -- Civil War, 1936-1939 -- Participation, American.

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Administrative Information

Custodial History

The Papers of Joseph Dallet, Jr., came to New York University in January 2001 as part of the original acquisition of Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives collections, formerly housed at Brandeis University. An accretion of correspondence was received in September 2016; the accession number associated with this gift is 2016.053.

Access Restrictions

Materials are open to researchers. Please contact the Tamiment Library & Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives for more information and to schedule an appointment, tamiment.wagner@nyu.edu or 212-998-2630.

Use Restrictions

The Tamiment Library & Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives has no information about copyright ownership for this collection and is not authorized to grant permission to publish or reproduce materials from it. Copyrights held by original creators of individual items in the collection are expected to pass into the public domain 70 years after the creator’s death. For more information, please contact the Tamiment Library & Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, tamiment.wagner@nyu.edu or 212-998-2630.

Preferred Citation

Identification of item, date; Joseph Dallet, Jr. Papers; ALBA 032; box number; folder number; Repository Name, New York

Processing Information

Information about decisions concerning arrangement, description, and physical interventions prior to 2016 have not yet been recorded. In October 2016 an accretion of correspondence was added to Series I. Correspondence in accordance with the existing arrangement scheme.

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Container List

Series I: Correspondence, 1926-1938.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 Correspondence
Box: 1 Folder : 2 Correspondence
undated , 1926-1928
Box: 1 Folder : 3 Correspondence
Jan 1929-May 1929
Box: 1 Folder : 4 Correspondence
May 1929
Box: 1 Folder : 5 Correspondence
Jun 1929-Jul 1929
Box: 1 Folder : 6 Correspondence
Aug 1929-Oct 1929
Box: 1 Folder : 7 Correspondence
Nov 1929-Dec 1929
Box: 1 Folder : 8 Correspondence
Box: 1 Folder : 9 Correspondence
Box: 1 Folder : 10 Correspondence
Box: 1 Folder : 11 Correspondence (Spain)
Box: 1 Folder : 12 Correspondence: Dallet Family (includes letters from wives Barbara and Katherine)
undated , 1930-1937
Box: 1 Folder : 13 Correspondence: Dallet, Hilda
Aug 1937-Apr 1938
Box: 1 Folder : 14 Correspondence: Dallet, Sr., Joseph with U.S. State Department
Apr 1937-Jun 1937
Box: 1 Folder : 15 Correspondence: Sympathy
Box: 1 Folder : 16 Correspondence: Sympathy
Oct 1937-Dec 1937
Box: 1 Folder : 17 Correspondence: Woodmere Academy
undated , 1936-1938
Box: 2 Folder : 5 2016 Accretion: Correspondence: Koch Family

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Series II: Subject Files, 1929-1946.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 2 Folder : 1 Labor and Political Materials
Box: 2 Folder : 2 Life Insurance Policy
Jan 1931
Box: 2 Folder : 3 Obituaries and Memorials
Box: 2 Folder : 4 Poetry, Clippings, American Teacher article

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