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Guide to the George Marion Papers ALBA.045

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
2nd Floor
New York, NY 10012
(212) 998-2596
special.collections@nyu.edu


Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

Collection processed by Wendy Scheir

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on August 03, 2021
Description is in English.

 Edited by Anna Björnsson McCormick to correct George Marion's date of death   , August 2021

Historical/Biographical Note

George Marion was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1905. His mother became a widow very young, and the family was poor. Marion began his journalism career in the advertising department of The Indianapolis Star. After moving to New York, he married Celia Greenspan. Greenspan was born in the Bronx, New York in 1907 into a lower-middle class, Jewish family. Her parents were Lithuanian-her father had been an anti-Czarist political prisoner in the south of Russia. In the early 1930s, Marion joined the Merchant Marines. He traveled and worked in India, Egypt, North Africa, West Africa, and Europe, working for a time at the Havas News Agency in Paris translating French cables and gaining knowledge about the political situation in Spain. Greenspan attended Hunter College, earning a degree as a lab technician. She joined the Communist Party in mid-1935, and Marion joined soon afterwards.

Marion reported from Spain as a freelancer in 1934-35, and returned to cover the Spanish Civil War in August, 1936 as a correspondent for the Daily Workerand  The New Masses. Greenspan went to Spain in October, 1936, becoming the first American woman volunteer in Spain. She worked at first to organize a lab in Madrid for Dr. Norman Bethune, the Canadian surgeon who created the Canadian Blood Transfusion Service; then in February, 1937 she went to Murcia, just in time for the bloody Battle of Jarama, where she served as a nurse. Marion filed reports from Madrid, Valencia, and Murcia. Greenspan joined him in Madrid in July, 1937, and they returned together to the United States in November, 1937. Greenspan and Marion had two children, Ruth and Robert. They divorced and each later remarried.

From 1940-46 Marion was a staff reporter for the Hearst-owned tabloid, The New York Daily Mirror, which he left in June, 1946 to write the pamphlet: "The 'Free Press': Portrait of a Monopoly." Marion then joined the staff of the Daily Worker from 1947-1948. Marion's first full-length book, Bases & Empire: A Chart of American Expansion, was the first work to show the economic basis of the Cold War and established Marion's reputation. Marion experienced the effects of blacklisting for his radical views. Unable to find a commercial publisher for any of his books, he self-published under the name Fairplay Publishers; the New York Times would not print an advertisement for his books (a fact which he proclaimed on the back cover of several of his books); and libraries bought his books but would not circulate them. Marion also had difficulty getting anyone in the mainstream press to review his books; consequently, he toured and lectured widely to promote them.

Marion died of a heart attack on November 2, 1955. His obituary in the People's Daily World said that the "tremendous strain of…publishing in the face of commercial black-list was seen as having contributed to undermine his health."

Sources:

  • Americans in Spanish Skies, dispatch in From Spanish Trenches, ed. Marcel Acier (New York: Modern Age Books, 1937) (as James Hawthorne).
  • From these honored dead ...(as James Hawthorne with by David McKelvy White) (Imprint New York, Friends of the Abraham Lincoln Battalion, 1939(?).
  • "Free Press"; Portrait of a Monopoly(New York: Fairplay Publishers, 1946).
  • Bases & Empire, A Chart of American Expansion(New York: Fairplay Publishers, 1948).
  • The Communist Trial: An American Crossroads(New York: Fairplay Publishers, 1949).
  • All Quiet in the Kremlin(New York: Fairplay Publishers, 1951).
  • Next Hundred Years; V.1(New York: Fairplay Publishers, 1953).
  • Stop the Press!(New York: Fairplay Publishers, 1953).
  • Selections from George Marion and Celia Greenspan's correspondence in Spain were printed in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade newsletter, The Volunteer, VII:2, July 1985.