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Guide to the Harry Fisher Papers ALBA.039

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.wagner@nyu.edu


Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

Collection processed by Jessica Weglein and Elizabeth Compa

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on July 20, 2017
Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Fisher, Harry, 1911-2003
Title: Harry Fisher Papers
Dates [inclusive]: 1937-1994
Dates [bulk]: bulk
Abstract: Harry Fisher (1911-2003) fought with the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in Spain and later served as an engineer gunner in the American Air Force during World War II. The collection consists chiefly of letters written to his family during the Spanish Civil War.
Quantity: 0.5 Linear Feet (1 box)
Language: Materials are in English.
Call Phrase: ALBA.039

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Historical/Biographical Note

Harry Fisher was born in New York City on March 12, 1911. Following his father's death at 28 of tuberculosis, Fisher's widowed mother placed the young Harry for a time in the Hebrew National Orphan Home while she found work in the garment industry and struggled to support two younger children. As a young adult Fisher worked as an office clerk for the Henry Rose Stores, the women's wear division of Sears Roebuck. He joined the Young Communist League and became a member of the Department Store Employees Union, Local 1250, participating in strikes and political rallies.

Early in 1937 he left New York and traveled to Spain to join the International Brigades. He served in Spain from March 1937 until September 1938. He participated in most of the major campaigns of the war including the battle at the Jarama front from April to June 1937; the offensive at Brunete from July to August 1937; the taking of Belchite in September 1937; and later the Teruel offensive in the winter of 1938, and the battle of the Ebro from July to September 1938. In Brunete, he served as a runner for Commander Oliver Law, the first African-American to command an integrated military unit.

Fisher returned to the United States in September of 1938. In 1939 he married Ruth Goldstein, an organizer and business agent for Local 1250, and together they had two children. Fisher served as a B-26 turret gunner. Following the war he worker for 50 years in the communications department of the TASS news agency. In 1998 he published Comrades, a memoir about his experiences in Spain, which was translated into German and Spanish. He remained politically engaged throughout his life, participating in civil-rights marches and anti-war protests. On March 22, 2003 Fisher collapsed and died during an anti-Iraqi War demonstration in New York City. He was 92 years old.

Sources:

  • Fisher, Harry. Comrades(Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 1998.)

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Scope and Content Note

Series I, correspondence, contains Fisher's incoming and outgoing correspondence during his 18 months in Spain from March 1937 to September 1938. His letters are addressed to his family in New York including his mother, his sister Sal, brother-in-law Hy and his niece Louise. Fisher, who was present at many of the major campaigns of the war, chronicles these events in his letters and provides ample descriptions of aid raids and trenches, camp life, and the war-torn experience of the Spanish populace in cities and villages. Notable among the events he describes are the death of Commander Oliver Law (7/29/1937); air raids in Madrid (6/29/1937) and Barcelona (7/8/1938); the eve of the crossing of the Ebro (7/28/1938) and its aftermath (8/5/1938). Additionally Fisher notes visits by journalists and dignitaries including Joseph North, Josephine Herbst, Robert Minor, Norman Thomas. He also offers his impressions of International Brigade personnel including Commander Vladimir Copic and Political Commissar Steve Nelson (who was also Fisher's bunkmate).

Included among the incoming correspondence is a letter from Fisher's fellow alumni from the Hebrew National Orphan Home announcing the formation of the Buddy Fisher Committee of the American Friends of the Abraham Lincoln Battalion, established to render aid to Fisher and his comrades in Spain. Also included is a letter from Lincoln Brigade veteran Harry Nobel, written from New York (7/28/1938), which provides an account of the relief activities and news of old friends.

Series II, Artifacts, consists of a military belt with army pouch, and a military lighter.

Arrangement

Series I is separated into outgoing and incoming correspondence and arranged chronologically within each group. Series II artifacts are housed in a folder at the end of the collection.

Organized into 2 series:

Missing Title

  1. I. Correspondence
  2. II. Artifacts

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Copic, Vladimir, 1891-1939
  • Herbst, Josephine, 1892-1969
  • Law, Oliver.
  • North, Joseph
  • Nelson, Steve, 1903-1993
  • Thomas, Norman, 1884-1968
  • Minor, Robert, 1884-1952
  • Fisher, Harry, 1911-2003

Document Type

  • Correspondence.

Subject Organizations

  • Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade
  • Hebrew National Orphan Home (Yonkers, N.Y.)
  • Spain. Ejercito Popular de la Republica. Abraham Lincoln Battalion
  • Spain. Ejercito Popular de la Republica. Brigada Internacional, XV

Subject Topics

  • Spain -- History -- Civil War, 1936-1939.
  • Ebro River, Battle of the, Spain, 1938.
  • Brunete, Battle of, Brunete, Spain, 1937.
  • Teruel, Battle of, Teruel, Spain, 1937-1938.

Subject Places

  • Spain -- History -- Civil War, 1936-1939 -- Personal narratives.
  • Spain |x History |y Civil War, 1936-1939 |v Biography.
  • Spain -- History -- Civil War, 1936-1939 -- Participation, American.
  • Spain -- History -- Civil War, 1936-1939 -- Campaigns.
  • Madrid (Spain)
  • Barcelona (Spain)
  • Jarama River Valley (Spain)
  • Belchite (Spain) -- History -- Siege, 1937.
  • Spain |x History |y Civil War, 1936-1939 |x African Americans.

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Administrative Information

Provenance

The Harry Fisher Collection was donated to the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives in 1993 by Harry Fisher. This collection came to New York University in January 2001 as part of the original acquisition of ALBA collections, formerly housed at Brandeis University.

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

Any rights (including copyright and related rights to publicity and privacy) held by the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives (ALBA), were transferred to New York University in November 2000 by the ALBA Board of Governors. Permission to publish or reproduce materials in this collection must be secured from the Tamiment Library & Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives. For more information, contact tamiment.wagner@nyu.edu or 212-998-2630.

Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date; Collection name; Collection number; box number; folder number;
Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012, New York University Libraries.

Related Material at the Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

ALBA collections at the Tamiment Library.

Separated Material

An audiotape from the Harry Fisher Collection with the recording of “The Last American Heroes” (a song composed by Fisher’s son John) has been transferred to the audio section of the ALBA collection in the Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives.

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Container List

Series I: Correspondence

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 Outgoing correspondence
Mar 1937-Apr 1937
Box: 1 Folder : 2 Outgoing correspondence
May 1937
Box: 1 Folder : 3 Outgoing correspondence
Jun 1937
Box: 1 Folder : 4 Outgoing correspondence
Jul 1937
Box: 1 Folder : 5 Outgoing correspondence
Aug 1937
Box: 1 Folder : 6 Outgoing correspondence
Sep 1937
Box: 1 Folder : 7 Outgoing correspondence
Oct 1937
Box: 1 Folder : 8 Outgoing correspondence
Nov 1937-Dec 1937
Box: 1 Folder : 9 Outgoing correspondence
Jan 1938-Mar 1938
Box: 1 Folder : 10 Outgoing correspondence
Apr 1938
Box: 1 Folder : 11 Outgoing correspondence
May 1938-Jun 1938
Box: 1 Folder : 12 Outgoing correspondence
Jul 1938-Sep 1938
Box: 1 Folder : 13 Incoming correspondence
1937-1938

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Series II: Artifacts

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 14 Artifacts
Undated

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