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Guide to the Communist Party of the United States of America Oral History Collection OH 065

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

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on August 16, 2018

Descriptive Summary

Title: Communist Party of the United States of America Oral History Collection
Dates [inclusive]: 1962 - 1992
Dates [bulk]: 1980-1990
Abstract: The Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA), founded in 1919 by members of the left wing of the Socialist Party USA, played an important role in the labor movement, particularly in the building of the Congress of Industrial Organizations, in struggles for civil rights for African Americans, while its cultural initiatives attracted a number of prominent artists and intellectuals, and its struggles to attain and maintain its legality were an important chapter in the history of U.S. civil liberties. The collection contains interviews with 41 Communist Party leaders and activists, including several founding members. The bulk of the interviews were conducted during the 1980s by Mary Licht, then chair of the Party's History Commission. Interviews with African American and Jewish Party members comprise the majority of the collection.
Quantity: 1.5 Linear Feet In 1 record carton and 2 cassette boxes
Quantity: 114 sound discs (cd) In 2 cassette boxes
Quantity: 41 interviews On 94 cassettes
Language: Materials are in English
Audio [Cassette]: 1-94
Call Phrase: OH 065

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Historical/Biographical Note

The Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA), founded in 1919 by members of the left wing of the Socialist Party USA, played an important role in the labor movement, particularly in the building of the Congress of Industrial Organizations in the 1930s-1940s, in struggles for civil rights for African Americans, while its cultural initiatives attracted a number of prominent artists and intellectuals, and its struggles to attain and maintain its legality were an important chapter in the history of U.S. civil liberties. Its membership peaked during World War II, reaching some 80,000, organized and led various more broadly based organizations such as the Civil Rights Congress and the International Workers Order, and Communist-led labor unions had a membership of over one million. Its large Jewish membership, and its militant advocacy of civil rights for African Americans are reflected in the backgrounds of the majority of the interviewees.

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Scope and Content Note

The collection contains interviews with 41 Communist Party leaders and activists, including several founding members. The bulk of the interviews were conducted during the 1980s by Mary Licht, then chair of the Party's History Commission. Notable interviewees include: John Abt (an attorney who represented the Party), B.D. Amis, founder of the League of Struggle for Negro Rights, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, feminist and a founder of the American Civil Liberties Union, Hungarian-American artist Hugo Gellert, Simon W. (Si) Gerson, long the Party's leading political campaign manager, Gil Green, Party youth leader in the 1930s, one-time head of the New York State Party organization, and in the 1980s the unofficial leader of the Party's reformist wing, Hosea Hudson, leading African American rank and file activist in the South, African American Communist Louise Thompson Patterson, a notable figure during the Harlem Renaissance, and friend of Langston Hughes, Party journalist and newspaper editor John Pittman, and African American Party National Chair Henry Winston.

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • West, James , 1914-2005
  • Pittman, John
  • Green, Gil, 1906-
  • Winston, Henry, 1911-1986.
  • Abt, John J.
  • Amis, B. D., b. 1896
  • Gellert, Hugo, 1892-1985
  • McAdory, Mildred
  • Moroze, Lewis M.
  • Patterson, Louise Thompson, 1901-1999

Document Type

  • Oral histories (document genres)

Subject Organizations

  • Communist Party of the United States of America
  • Communist Party of the United States of America

Subject Topics

  • Jewish communists -- United States -v Interviews.
  • African American communists |v Interviews.
  • Communists -- United States -- Interviews.
  • Women communists -- United States -v Interviews.
  • Communism -- United States -- History -- 20th century.

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Administrative Information

Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Because of the assembled nature of this collection, copyright status varies across the collection. Copyright is assumed to be held by the original creator of individual items in the collection; these items are expected to pass into the public domain 120 years after their creation. Copyright (or related rights to publicity and privacy) for materials in this collection, created by Mary Licht, was not transferred to New York University. Permission to use materials must be secured from the copyright holder.

Preferred Citation

Identification of item, date; Communist Party of the United States of America Oral History Collection; OH.065; box number; folder number; Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, New York University.

Audiovisual Access Policies and Procedures

Access to audiovisual materials in this collection is available through digitized access copies. Researchers may view an item's original container, but the media themselves are not available for playback because of preservation concerns. Materials that have already been digitized are noted in the collection's finding aid and can be requested in our reading room. Materials not yet digitized will need to have access copies made before they can be used. To request an access copy, or if you are unsure if an item has been digitized, please contact tamiment.wagner@nyu.edu with the collection name, collection number, and a description of the item(s) requested. A staff member will respond to you with further information.

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Container List

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Cassette : 1 (Mixed Materials) Abt, John. Interviewed by Mary Licht. Tape 1
[Feb 1983]
Box: 2 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 2 (Mixed Materials) Abt, John. Interviewed by Mary Licht. Tape 2
[Feb 1983]
Box: 2 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 3 (Mixed Materials) Abt, John. Interviewed by Mary Licht. Tape 3
[Feb 1983]
Box: 2 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 4 (Mixed Materials) Abt, John. Interviewed by Mary Licht. Tape 4
Feb 28, 1983
Box: 2 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 5 (Mixed Materials) Abt, John. Interviewed by Mary Licht. Tape 5
Feb 28, 1983
Box: 2 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 6 (Mixed Materials) Abt, John. Interviewed by Mary Licht. Tape 6
Feb 28, 1983; Mar 3, 1983
Box: 2 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 7 (Mixed Materials) Abt, John. Interviewed by Mary Licht. Tape 7
Mar 3, 1983; Mar 10, 1983
Box: 2 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 8 (Mixed Materials) Abt, John. Interviewed by Mary Licht. Tape 8
Mar 10, 1983
Box: 2 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 9 (Mixed Materials) Abt, John. Interviewed by Mary Licht. Tape 9
Mar 10, 1983
Box: 2 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 10 (Mixed Materials) Abt, John. Interviewed by Mary Licht. Tape 10
Mar 10, 1983
Box: 2 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 11 (Mixed Materials) Abt, John. Interviewed by Mary Licht. Tape 11
Mar 17, 1983
Box: 2 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 12 (Mixed Materials) Abt, John. Interviewed by Mary Licht. Tape 12
Apr 27, 1983
Box: 2 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 13 (Mixed Materials) Amis, Benjamin DeWayne (B. D.). Tape 1
Nov 16, 1988
Box: 2 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 14 (Mixed Materials) Amis, Benjamin DeWayne (B. D.). Tape 2
Nov 16, 1988
Box: 2 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 15 (Mixed Materials) Amis, Benjamin DeWayne (B. D.). Interviewed by Miriam Crawford. Tape 1
Feb 1, 1989
Box: 2 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 2 Cd : 1 (Access cd) Amis, Benjamin DeWayne (B. D.). Interviewed by Miriam Crawford. Tape 2
Feb 1, 1989
Box: 1 Cassette : 16 (Mixed Materials)
Box: 2 Cd : 1-2 (Access cd) Amis, Benjamin DeWayne (B. D.). Tape 1
Jul 24
Box: 1 Cassette : 17 (Mixed Materials)
Box: 2 Cd : 1 (Access cd) Amis, Benjamin DeWayne (B. D.). Tape 2
Jul 24
Box: 1 Cassette : 18 (Mixed Materials)
Box: 1 Cassette : 19 (Mixed Materials) Bart, Phil. Interviewed by Mary Licht. Tape 1
Sep 26, 1983
Box: 2 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 20 (Mixed Materials) Bart, Phil. Interviewed by Mary Licht. Tape 2
Sep 26, 1983
Box: 2 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 21 (Mixed Materials) Carroll, Esther. Interviewed by Mary Licht
undated
Box: 2 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 21A (Mixed Materials) Cooke, Marvel. Interviewed by Mary Licht
Aug 16, 1984
Box: 2 Cd : 1-2 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 22 (Mixed Materials) Dolson, James [Copy 1]

Scope and Contents

For portion of recording, a crackling like surface noise from a vinyl disc can be detected. Tape rension issues causing many audio glitches throughout. Still listenable quality, however.

undated
Box: 2 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 23 Dolson, James [Copy 2]

Scope and Contents

Duplicate of Dolson, James [Copy 1]

undated
Box: 2 Cd : 1 (Access cd) Du Bois, William E. Burghardt
undated
Box: 1 Cassette : 23A (Mixed Materials)
Box: 2 Cd : 1 (Access cd) Flynn, Elizabeth Gurley
Dec 1962
Box: 1 Cassette : 24 (Mixed Materials)
Box: 1 Cassette : 25 (Mixed Materials) Freedman, David M. Interviewed by Mary Licht. Tape 1
undated
Box: 2 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 26 (Mixed Materials) Freedman, David M. Interviewed by Mary Licht. Tape 2
undated
Box: 2 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 2 Cd : 1 (Access cd) Gaulden, Leila (Rose). Interviewed by Mary Licht
undated
Box: 1 Cassette : 27 (Mixed Materials)
Box: 1 Cassette : 28 (Mixed Materials) Gellert, Hugo. Interviewed by Mary Licht
Mar 11, 1983
Box: 2 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 29 (Mixed Materials) Gerson, Simon W. (Si). Interviewed by Mary Licht. Tape 1
Feb 24, 1983
Box: 2 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 30 (Mixed Materials) Gerson, Simon W. (Si). Interviewed by Mary Licht. Tape 2
Mar 3, 1983
Box: 2 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 31 (Mixed Materials) Gerson, Simon W. (Si). Interviewed by Mary Licht. Tape 3
Mar 3, 1983
Box: 2 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 2 Cd : 1-3 (Access cd) Green, Gil. Interviewed by Mary Licht. Tape 1-3
Oct 3, 1983
Box: 1 Cassette : 32-34 (Mixed Materials)
Box: Shared Tamiment 013 Cassette : 5-6 (Moving Images [31142062882207])
Box: 2 Cd : 1-2 (Access cd) Henderson, Joseph. Interviewed by Margaret Baldridge. Tape 1
Sep 23, 1992
Box: 1 Cassette : 35 (Mixed Materials)
Box: 2 Cd : 1-2 (Access cd) Henderson, Joesph. Interviewed by Margaret Baldridge. Tape 2
Sep 30, 1992
Box: 1 Cassette : 36 (Mixed Materials)
Box: 2 Cd : 1 (Access cd) Hudson, Hosea. Tape 3
Mar 22
Box: 1 Cassette : 37 (Mixed Materials)
Box: 1 Cassette : 38 (Mixed Materials) Huff, Henry. Tape 1
undated
Box: 2 Cd : 1-2 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 39 (Mixed Materials) Huff, Henry. Tape 2
undated
Box: 2 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 40 (Mixed Materials) Huff, Henry. Tape 3
undated
Box: 2 Cd : 1-2 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 41 (Mixed Materials) Huff, Henry. Tape 4
undated
Box: 2 Cd : 1-2 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 42 (Mixed Materials) Huff, Henry. Tape 5
undated
Box: 2 Cd : 1-2 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 43 (Mixed Materials) Huff, Henry. Tape 6
undated
Box: 2 Cd : 1-2 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 44 (Mixed Materials) Huff, Henry. Tape 7
undated
Box: 2 Cd : 1-2 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 45 (Mixed Materials) Huff, Henry. Tape 8
undated
Box: 2 Cd : 1-2 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 46 (Mixed Materials) Komorowski, Conrad. Interviewed by Mary Licht. Tape 1
undated
Box: 2 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 47 (Mixed Materials) Komorowski, Conrad. Interviewed by Mary Licht. Tape 2
undated
Box: 2 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 48 (Mixed Materials) Komorowski, Conrad. Interviewed by Mary Licht. Tape 3
undated
Box: 2 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 49 (Mixed Materials) Lumer, Bob (Speaking about the life of his father, Hy Lumer). Interviewed by Mary Licht
undated
Box: 2 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 50 (Mixed Materials) Lustig, James. Interviewed by Mary Licht. Tape 3
undated
Box: 2 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 51 (Mixed Materials) Maurin, Ed. Interviewed by Ann Timpson (Boston, MA) [Copy 1]
Apr 19, 1975
Box: 2 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 52 Maurin, Ed. Interviewed by Ann Timpson (Boston, MA) [Copy 2]

Scope and Contents

Duplicate of "Maurin, Ed. Interviewed by Ann Timpson (Boston, MA) [Copy 1], Apr 19, 1975"

Apr 19, 1975
Box: 1 Cassette : 53 (Mixed Materials) McAdory, Mildred (Known as Mildred Edelman). Interviewed by Mary Licht. Tape 1
undated
Box: 2 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 54 (Mixed Materials) McAdory, Mildred (Known as Mildred Edelman). Interviewed by Mary Licht. Tape 2
undated
Box: 2 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 55 (Mixed Materials) McAdory, Mildred (Known as Mildred Edelman). Interviewed by Mary Licht. Tape 3
undated
Box: 2 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 56 (Mixed Materials) Moroze, Lewis. Interviewed by Mary Licht
Apr 10, 1986
Box: 2 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 57 (Mixed Materials) N., Joe. Interviewed by Mary Licht
undated
Box: 2 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 58 (Mixed Materials) Nicholas, Elizabeth. Interviewed by Mary Licht (Mountain View, CA)

Processing Information

Tremendous gaps in the content have been edited out.

Nov 11, 1983
Box: 2 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 59 (Mixed Materials) Neuberger, Samuel. Interviewed by Mary Licht. Tape 1
Dec 16, 1982
Box: 2 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 60 (Mixed Materials) Neuberger, Samuel. Interviewed by Mary Licht. Tape 2
Dec 16, 1982
Box: 2 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 61 (Mixed Materials) Neuberger, Samuel. Interviewed by Mary Licht. Tape 3
Dec 16, 1982
Box: 2 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 62 (Mixed Materials) Neuberger, Samuel. Interviewed by Mary Licht. Tape 4
Dec 16, 1982
Box: 2 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 3 Cd : 1 (Access cd) Patterson, Louise Thompson. Interviewed by Mary Licht. Tape 1
undated
Box: 1 Cassette : 63 (Mixed Materials)
Box: 3 Cd : 1 (Access cd) Patterson, Louise Thompson. Interviewed by Mary Licht. Tape 3
undated
Box: 1 Cassette : 64 (Mixed Materials)
Box: 3 Cd : 1 (Access cd) Patterson, Louise Thompson. Interviewed by Mary Licht. Tape 4
undated
Box: 1 Cassette : 65 (Mixed Materials)
Box: 1 Cassette : 66 (Mixed Materials) Pittman, John. Interview by Mary Licht [Copy 1]
undated
Box: 3 Cd : 1-2 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 67 Pittman, John. Interview by Mary Licht [Copy 2]

Scope and Contents

Duplicate of Pittman, John [Copy 1]

undated
Box: 1 Cassette : 68 (Mixed Materials) Rigerman, Paula C.
Apr 10, 1981
Box: 3 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 69 (Mixed Materials) Riskin, Ben. Interviewed by Mary Licht. Tape 1
Mar 8, 1984
Box: 3 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 70 Riskin, Ben. Interviewed by Mary Licht. Tape 2
Mar 8, 1984
Box: 1 Cassette : 71 (Mixed Materials) Rosen, Abe. (New Brunswick, NJ)

Scope and Contents

Side 1 of original recording had distorted audio. Side 2 has four minutes of a woman singing a capella.

May 14, 1975
Box: 3 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 72 (Mixed Materials) Rosen, Pauline. Interviewed by Mary Licht
undated
Box: 3 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 73 (Mixed Materials) Rubell, David. Interviewed by Mary Licht
undated
Box: 3 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 74 (Mixed Materials) Seltzer, David (Known as Donald Spring). Interviewed by Mary Licht
undated
Box: 3 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 75 (Mixed Materials) Seltzer, Edka. Interviewed by Mary Licht. Tape 1
undated
Box: 3 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 76 (Mixed Materials) Seltzer, Edka. Interviewed by Mary Licht and Carrol [?] (Queens, NY). Tape 2
Feb 5, 1985
Box: 3 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 77 (Mixed Materials) Simkin, Jerry. Interviewed by Mary Licht. Tape 1
undated
Box: 3 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 78 (Mixed Materials) Simkin, Jerry. Interviewed by Mary Licht. Tape 2
undated
Box: 3 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 79 (Mixed Materials) Simkin, Jerry. Interviewed by Mary Licht. Tape 3
undated
Box: 3 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 80 (Mixed Materials) Simkin, Jerry. Interviewed by Mary Licht. Tape 4
undated
Box: 3 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 81 (Mixed Materials) Stevens, Donald. (Minneapolis, MN). Tape 1
May 19, 1973
Box: 3 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 82 (Mixed Materials) Stevens, Donald. (Minneapolis, MN). Tape 2
May 19, 1973
Box: 3 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 83 (Mixed Materials) Stevens, Donald. (Minneapolis, MN). Tape 3
May 19, 1973
Box: 3 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 84 (Mixed Materials) Sykes, Frank. Interviewed by Martin Halpern (Detroit, MI). Tape 1
Feb 15, 1981
Box: 3 Cd : 1-2 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 85 (Mixed Materials) Sykes, Frank. Interviewed by Martin Halpern (Detroit, MI). Tape 2
Feb 15, 1981
Box: 3 Cd : 1-2 (Access cd)
Box: 3 Cd : 1 (Access cd) Sykes, Frank. Interviewed by Martin Halpern (Detroit, MI). Tape 3
Feb 15, 1981
Box: 1 Cassette : 86 (Mixed Materials)
Box: 1 Cassette : 87 (Mixed Materials) Tolopko, Leon. Interviewed by Mary Licht
undated
Box: 3 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 88 (Mixed Materials) West, Jim. Interviewed by Mary Licht. Tape 1
Mar 12, 1984
Box: 3 Cd : 1-2 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 89 (Mixed Materials) West, Jim. Interviewed by Mary Licht. Tape 2
Mar 26, 1984
Box: 3 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 3 Cd : 1 (Access cd) Willis, Agnes (Wendy). Interviewed by Mary Licht
May 30, 1984
Box: 1 Cassette : 90 (Mixed Materials)
Box: 1 Cassette : 91 (Mixed Materials) Wilson, Charles. Interviewed by May Licht

Scope and Contents

First three minutes of recording have a grinding noise in the background.

Nov 1983
Box: 3 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 92 (Mixed Materials) Winston, Fern. Interviewed by Mary Licht. Tape 1
Sep 14, 1992
Box: 3 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 93 (Mixed Materials) Winston, Fern. Interviewed by Mary Licht. Tape 2
Sep 14, 1992
Box: 3 Cd : 1-2 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 94 (Mixed Materials) Winter, Karl. Interviewed by Mary Licht
Aug 6, 1990
Box: 3 Cd : 1 (Access cd)

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