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Guide to the Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives Printed Ephemera Collection on the Socialist Party (U.S.) PE.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.wagner@nyu.edu


Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

Collection processed by Rebecca Altermatt

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on September 07, 2018
Description is in English

 Edited by Jenny Ambrose to reflect inclusion of 2018 accretion.   , May 2018

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Tamiment Library
Title: Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives Printed Ephemera Collection on the Socialist Party (U.S.)
Dates: 1901-2002
Abstract: The collection consists of leaflets, flyers, manifestoes, reports, memoranda, executive committee minutes, pamphlets, a ledger and other internal documents generated by the Socialist Party of America. Also included are related organizations such as Socialist Democratic Federation, Young People's Socialist League and Socialist Party USA. The collection offers a general feel for the types of printed matter put out by the Party as well as a brief introduction to and history of the Party and how it changed over the years.
Quantity: 13 Linear Feet (13 boxes)
Language: Majority of materials are in English. Some items are in German and Italian.
Call Phrase: PE.032

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Historical Note

The Socialist Party of America was established on 29 July 1901 as a result of a merger between the moderate wing of the Socialist Labor Party and the Social Democratic Party. For most of its turbulent history, the Socialist Party has been reformist in its political attitudes and democratic in its organization. Until the mid 1950s, the Socialist Party advocated trade unionism, supported an evolutionary rather than a revolutionary conversion to socialism, and endorsed progressive as well as socialist candidates for public office.

Between 1901 and 1912, the party's membership grew from 10,000 to 118,000 and the votes cast for socialist Presidential candidates increased proportionately from 100,000 to 900,000. By advocating reform of the political and economic system, the party was able to enlist the support of many orthodox socialists and many heterogeneous elements remaining from such progressive movements as the Greenbackers, Populists, and "Single Taxers". The result was a broad based party, particularly strong in the West, which was prepared to sacrifice ideological purity for numbers and revolutionary gains for immediate political success. Evidence of this policy was demonstrated in the fact that in 1912 there were 56 socialist mayors, over 300 socialist aldermen, many socialist state legislators, and one socialist member of the House of Representatives.

This success, however, was short lived. Throughout the 1910s and 1920s, the Socialist Party suffered from the same external pressures which caused other progressive movements to stagnate. The party also suffered from numerous internal crises as well, including the expulsion of its revolutionary wing in 1912 1913; the party's official opposition to World War I, and the Russian Revolution of 1917, which encouraged the left wing of the party to demand a more militant program and, when this was not forthcoming, to secede from the party in 1919 and establish the Communist Party.

Following a brief resurgence in the late 1920s and early 1930s under the strong leadership of Norman Thomas, the Socialist Party was once again plagued with internal conflicts. The principal divisions within the party at this time were generational, geographical, and ideological in nature.

These three factions did not bring their differences of opinion into public focus until the 1932 Socialist Party convention in Milwaukee. The conflict intensified during the New York City fur workers dispute in 1933. In the fur industry of New York City there were two rival unions, one controlled by the Socialist Party Old Guard and the other led by the Communist Party. During the dispute over which union should represent all of the fur workers, the Militants charged that the Old Guard was attempting to subvert the communist union in its quest for total control despite the fact that most of the workers supported the communists. Norman Thomas concurred in this view and demanded that the Old Guard cease its activities against the communist union members. The Old Guard union responded to these charges by obtaining a labor injunction against the communist union. Eventually, the fur workers dispute was resolved when members of both unions negotiated a settlement.

Another incident which pitted the three factions against each other occurred during the debate on the Declaration of Principles at the 1934 Socialist Party convention in Detroit. The Declaration of Principles was drafted by the Progressives and the Militants and included numerous statements on issues which they believed every socialist should advocate. When the delegates finally adopted the Declaration of Principles before the convention adjourned, it clearly demonstrated that the Old Guard was gradually losing control of the party.

The factional strife came to a climax in 1936 when the Old Guard bolted from the Socialist Party after the national convention in Cleveland and organized the Social Democratic Federation. The withdrawal of the Old Guard was a serious loss for the party. Not only did major socialist figures from New York, Connecticut, Maryland, and Pennsylvania leave the party, but they took with them much of the financial support of the party as well. In addition to these developments, two major urban political machines in the Socialist Party Reading, Pennsylvania and Bridgeport, Connecticut joined the Social Democratic Federation.

Following the departure of the old Guard, the Progressives and militants continued the party's infighting by dividing into three groups. The first group was an amalgamation of the old Progressives and the leadership of the Militants. Under the direction of Jack Altman and Paul Porter these moderates supported the American Labor Party and endorsed a more democratic view of socialism. A second group, formerly associated with the Militants, were emerging as the new left wing faction of the party. Calling itself the "Clarity" group after the periodical, Socialist Clarity, this group was led by Frank Trager, Gus Tyler, Robert and Max Delson, and Herbert Zam. Ideologically, the Clarity group was not opposed to labor parties and farm labor coalitions, but they were more insistent than the Altman group that any labor party wanting Socialist Party support should have a wide labor base and should repudiate capitalist reformist politics.

Complicating the situation within the party was an ultra left Trotskyite faction. Known as the Appeal group because of their periodical, Socialist Appeal, the Trotskyites maintained that the Socialist Party should repudiate all labor and farmer labor parties and thus transform itself into a revolutionary party.

These three factions clashed on a variety of issues during the late 1930s. In national convention sessions and local political campaigns, these groups differed over the Socialist Party's attitude toward preventing war, the Socialist Party's affiliation with the American League Against War and Fascism, and socialist cooperation with organized labor. By the end of 1937, the disputes between the various groups were so damaging to the conduct of party business that the National Executive Committee finally took decisive action and expelled the Trotskyite faction.

The Socialist Party never fully recovered from these setbacks, although negotiations were successful in reuniting the Social Democratic Federation with the party in 1957. Nevertheless, despite this encouraging development, the internal conflicts and the emergence of the New Left in the late 1950s and 1960s eventually caused the Socialist Party to lose its influence as an effective political organization.

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Scope and Content Note

This artifical collection, created over the years by staff of Tamiment via donations, personal collectiong and materials removed from other collections, consists of memoranda, correspondence, constitutions, fliers, leaflets, newspaper clippings, and pamphlets. The collection offers a general feel for the types of printed matter put out by the Party as well as a brief introduction to and history of the Party and how it changed over the years. Represented in the collection are the Sociality Party of America (Socialist Party (U.S.), the later Socialist Party U.S.A., the Young People's Socialist League (YPSL) and a few other related organizations.

The bulk of the collection consists of papers, fliers, pamphlets and other party material from the Socialist Party of America headquartered in Chicago. Another significant portion of the collection comes from the Socialist Party of New York City. Also included are materials from Young People's Socialist Party (YPSL), an organization of young socialists. There are election campaign handbooks from the National Headquarters as well as some state and county affiliates. The Party went through several splits and in 1973, the Socialist Party of the USA was formed, which is the organization today.

Some of the oldest items in the collection come from individual states party papers, such as Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The Young People's Socialist League contains significant information on the conventions, education and communications in this group.

A ledger added to collection in 2018 documents membership dues and contributions from the Socialist Party of America's local division in Granite Falls, Washington. The ledger contains a short index followed by numerous pages filled with members' names and other details; each entry displays information pertaining to their occupation, age, date of admittance and payment records. Notable names in the ledger include E.E. Martin and R. Krueger, secretaries of state for the Socialist party in 1905 and 1907, respectively, as well as prominent Socialist party member and anti-war activist Emil Herman, who is listed in the ledger as a speaker on 27 January 1908. Entries range from 1901 to 1913.

Arrangement

Collection is arranged into six series:

I. Socialist Party of America: National Office, 1901-1961 II. Socialisty Party of America: States and Local, 1902-1981, undated III. Socialist Party U.S.A., 1962-1992 IV. Related Socialist Organizations, 1957-1972 V. Young People's Socialist League (YPSL), 1916-2002 VI. Election Campaign Handbooks, 1908-1937

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Access Points

Document Type

  • Clippings (information artifacts)
  • Fliers (printed matter)
  • Pamphlets.
  • Correspondence.
  • Ledgers (account books).

Subject Organizations

  • Socialist Party (U.S.)
  • Young People's Socialist League

Subject Topics

  • Socialists -- New York (State) -- New York.
  • Socialism -- New York (State).
  • Socialism -- United States.

Subject Places

  • Morningside Heights (New York, N.Y.)
  • Chicago (Ill.)
  • New York (N.Y.)

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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. Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Archives is not authorized to grant permission to publish or reproduce materials from this collection.

Preferred Citation

Identification of item, date; Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives Printed Ephemera Collection on the Socialist Party (U.S.); PE 032; box number; folder number; Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, New York University.

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

  1. Socialist Party (U.S.) Correspondence TAM 056.9 (R-7124)
  2. Socialist Party of New York State Records TAM 056.4 (R-7124)
  3. Socialist Party (U.S.) Minutes TAM 056.6 (R-7124)
  4. Socialist Minute Books (New York, N.Y.) TAM 056.1 (R-7124)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Materials in this collection have been compiled by the Tamiment Library.

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives purchased a ledger from the Socialist Party (U.S.) in March 2018. The accession number associated with this purchase is 2018.075.

Materials found in the repository were added to the collection. The accession number associated wiht this material is 2014.091.

Processing Information

Proccessing decisions made prior to 2018 have not been recorded. A ledger was added to collection in 2018 and housed in Box 13.

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Container List

Series I. Socialist Party (U.S.): National Office (also called Socialist Party of America), 1901-1961

Container 1     Title Date
Box: 1 1901-1903
Box: 1 1904
Box: 1 1905
Box: 1 1906
Box: 1 1907: National Headquarters Weekly Bulletin
Box: 1 1908
Box: 1 1909
Box: 1 1910
Box: 1 1911
Box: 1 1912 I
Box: 1 1912 II
Box: 1 1913
Box: 1 1914: National Committee Session
Box: 1 1914: Socialist War Manual
Box: 1 1915: National Committee Session
Box: 1 1916
Box: 1 1917
Box: 1 1918
Box: 1 1919: National Convention
Box: 1 1919-1920: National Executive Committee
Box: 1 1919-1920
Box: 1 1920: National Executive Committee
Box: 1 1920-1930: Fliers and Circular Letters
Box: 1 1921
Box: 1 1922
Box: 1 1923: National Convention
Box: 1 1924
Box: 1 1925
Box: 1 1926
Box: 2 1927
Box: 2 1928 I
Box: 2 1928 II
Box: 2 1928: National Election Results
Box: 2 1929
Box: 2 1930 I
Box: 2 1930 II
Box: 2 1931 I
Box: 2 1931 II
Box: 2 1932 I
Box: 2 1932 II
Box: 2 1932: Newspaper Clippings
Box: 2 1933 I
Box: 2 1933 II
Box: 3 1934 I
Box: 3 1934 II
Box: 3 1934 III
Box: 3 1934 IV
Box: 3 1935 I
Box: 3 1935 II
Box: 3 1936 I
Box: 3 1936 II
Box: 3 1936 III
Box: 3 1936: Election
Box: 3 1937
Box: 3 1938
Box: 3 1939
Box: 4 1940
Box: 4 1940: Election
Box: 4 1940-1949: Internal Debate
Box: 4 1941
Box: 4 1942
Box: 4 1943
Box: 4 1944
Box: 4 1945
Box: 4 1946
Box: 4 1947
Box: 4 1948
Box: 4 1949
Box: 4 1950
Box: 4 1951
Box: 4 1952
Box: 4 1953
Box: 4 1954
Box: 4 1955
Box: 4 1956
Box: 4 1957 I
Box: 4 1957 II
Box: 4 1957 III
Box: 4 1958 I
Box: 4 1958 II
Box: 4 1959
Box: 5 1960
Box: 5 1961
Box: 5 undated
Box: 5 Education
undated
Box: 5 Election Statistics
undated
Box: 5 Fliers
1913, undated
Box: 5 Fliers I
undated
Box: 5 Fliers II
undated
Box: 5 Fliers/Circular Letters
circa 1919, undated
Box: 5 German Language Federation
circa 1900s
Box: 5 Independent Political Council
undated
Box: 5 Lyceum Department
1912
Box: 5 Memoranda and Minutes
undated
Box: 5 Memoranda, Correspondence
undated
Box: 5 National Executive Committee
undated
Box: 5 Norman Thomas Testimonial Committee
1936, 1950
Box: 5 Pamphlets and Publications I
1911-
Box: 5 Pamphlets and Publications II
Box: 5 Pamphlets and Publications III
Box: 5 Pamphlets and Publications IV
Box: 5 Pamphlets and Publications V
Box: 5 Polish Alliance
undated
Box: 5 Revolutionary Policy Committee
1934
Box: 5 Woman's National Committee
undated
Box: 5 Women's Department
1930

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Series II. Socialist Party of America: State and Local, 1902-1981, undated

Container 1     Title Date
Box: 5 Arizona
1910-1914
Box: 5 Arkansas
1922, undated
Box: 5 California
1912-1960, undated
Box: 6 Colorado
1913-1944, undated
Box: 6 Connecticut
1912-1943
Box: 6 Cook County, IL
1931-1937, undated
Box: 6 Delaware
1913-1919
Box: 6 District of Columbia (D.C.)
1914-1937
Box: 6 Florida
1910-1912
Box: 6 Idaho
1914, undated
Box: 6 Illinois
1907-1973
Box: 6 Indiana
1914-1934
Box: 6 Indiana and Illinois
1940s
Box: 6 Iowa
1914, undated
Box: 6 Kansas
1903
Box: 6 Kentucky
1903, undated
Box: 6 Louisiana
1931
Box: 6 Maine
1914
Box: 6 Maryland
1904-1906, undated
Box: 6 Massachusetts
1910-1944
Box: 6 Michigan
1907-1934
Box: 6 Minnesota
1916-1936, undated
Box: 6 Mississippi
1913
Box: 6 Missouri
1904-1934
Box: 6 Montana
1912
Box: 6 Nebraska
1910
Box: 6 Nevada
1913-
Box: 6 New Hampshire
undated
Box: 6 New Jersey
1902-1939
Box: 6 New Jersey
undated
Box: 6 New Mexico
191-
Box: 6 New York (N.Y.): 1904
1904
Box: 6 New York (N.Y.): 1905
1905
Box: 6 New York (N.Y.): 1906
1906
Box: 6 New York (N.Y.): 1907
1907
Box: 6 New York (N.Y.): 1908
1908
Box: 6 New York (N.Y.): 1909
1909
Box: 6 New York (N.Y.): 1910
1910
Box: 6 New York (N.Y.): 1911
1911
Box: 6 New York (N.Y.): 1912
1912
Box: 6 New York (N.Y.): 1913
1913
Box: 6 New York (N.Y.): 1914-1916
1914-1916
Box: 6 New York (N.Y.): 1917
1917
Box: 6 New York (N.Y.): 1918
1918
Box: 6 New York (N.Y.): 1919
1919
Box: 6 New York (N.Y.): 1920
1920
Box: 6 New York (N.Y.): 1921
1921
Box: 6 New York (N.Y.): 1922
1922
Box: 6 New York (N.Y.): 1924
1924
Box: 6 New York (N.Y.): 1925
1925
Box: 6 New York (N.Y.): 1926
1926
Box: 7 New York (N.Y.): 1927-1928
1927-1928
Box: 7 New York (N.Y.): 1929
1929
Box: 7 New York (N.Y.): 1930
1930
Box: 7 New York (N.Y.): 1931
1931
Box: 7 New York (N.Y.): 1932
1932
Box: 7 New York (N.Y.): 1933
1933
Box: 7 New York (N.Y.): 1934
1934-1938
Box: 7 New York (N.Y.): 1934: National Executive Committee
Box: 7 New York (N.Y.): 1935
1935
Box: 7 New York (N.Y.): 1936
1936
Box: 7 New York (N.Y.): 1937
1937
Box: 7 New York (N.Y.): 1938
1938
Box: 7 New York (N.Y.): 1939
1939
Box: 7 New York (N.Y.): 1940
1940
Box: 7 New York (N.Y.): 1946-1947 I
1946-1947
Box: 7 New York (N.Y.): 1946-1947 II
1946-1947
Box: 7 New York (N.Y.): 1948-1949
1948-1949
Box: 7 New York (N.Y.): 1950-1951
1950-1951
Box: 7 New York (N.Y.): 1952-1953
1952-1953
Box: 7 New York (N.Y.): 1954-1955
1954-1955
Box: 7 New York (N.Y.): 1956
1956
Box: 7 New York (N.Y.): 1957
1957
Box: 7 New York (N.Y.): 1958
1958
Box: 7 New York (N.Y.): 1964-1965
1964-1965
Box: 7 New York (N.Y.): 1968
1968
Box: 7 New York (N.Y.): 1969
1969
Box: 8 New York (N.Y.): undated
Box: 8 New York (N.Y.): undated
Box: 8 New York (N.Y.): East Side Agitation Committee
1917
Box: 8 New York (N.Y.): Left-wing Section
1919, 1936
Box: 8 New York (N.Y.): Morningside Heights I (The Bulletin)
1940
Box: 8 New York (N.Y.): Morningside Heights II (The Bulletin)
1940
Box: 8 New York 1913
1913
Box: 8 New York 1914
1914
Box: 8 New York 1915
1915
Box: 8 New York 1916
1916
Box: 8 New York 1917
1917
Box: 8 New York 1918
1918
Box: 8 New York 1940-1949, undated
1940-1949
Box: 8 New York: undated
Box: 8 New York: Albany Trial
1920
Box: 8 New York: Candidates/Platform
1919-1920
Box: 8 New York: Candidates/Platform
1926-1928
Box: 8 New York: Candidates/Platform
1930
Box: 8 New York: Candidates/Platform
1931-1933
Box: 8 New York: Candidates/Platform
1934-1938
Box: 8 New York: Constitution/Convention
1936
Box: 8 New York: Fliers
1930-1958
Box: 8 New York: Left-Wing Section, Buffalo, NY
1924
Box: 8 New York: Memoranda
1936-1937
Box: 8 New York: Memoranda
1973-
Box: 8 New York: Split
1937
Box: 8 New York: State Committee- Memoranda and Minutes
1937-1956
Box: 8 New York: State Committee- Response to National Executive Committee
1935
Box: 8 New York: Young People's Socialist Federation
1910- undated
Box: 8 New York: Erie County
1936
Box: 8 New York, Schenectady
1912
Box: 8 North Dakota
1914
Box: 8 Ohio
1905-1960
Box: 8 Ohio: Cleveland
1913, 1929
Box: 8 Oklahoma
1914-1915
Box: 8 Oregon
undated
Box: 9 Pennsylvania
1903-1918
Box: 9 Pennsylvania
1919-1950, undated
Box: 9 Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
1910, 1964
Box: 9 Rhode Island, Providence
1914, 1920
Box: 9 South Carolina
undated
Box: 9 South Dakota
1914
Box: 9 Tennessee
1912
Box: 9 Texas
1910-1934
Box: 9 Texas
1979-1980
Box: 9 Texas
1981-
Box: 9 Texas, Tyler, Local 39
1904
Box: 9 Utah
1908, 1934
Box: 9 Virginia
1930
Box: 13 Washington: Financial Secretary's Ledger
1901-1913
Box: 9 Washington
1912-1924
Box: 9 Washington
1960 -
Box: 9 West Virginia
1912
Box: 9 Wisconsin
1905-1934
Box: 9 Wisconsin
1936-1940
Box: 9 Wisconsin
1945-1960
Box: 9 Wisconsin
1961-1971
Box: 9 Wisconsin
1972-1973
Box: 9 Wisconsin: Milwaukee
1908-1932
Box: 9 Wisconsin: Milwaukee County
1934-1965

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Series III. Socialist Party U.S.A., 1962-1992

Container 1     Title Date
Box: 9 1962
Box: 9 1963
Box: 9 1964
Box: 9 1966
Box: 9 1968-1969
Box: 10 1970-1971 I
Box: 10 1970-1971 II
Box: 10 1972-1975
1972-1975
Box: 10 1976-1978
1976-1978
Box: 10 1980
1980
Box: 10 1981-1993
1981-1993
Box: 10 undated
Box: 10 Committee on Perspectives
1975
Box: 10 Debs Caucus
1971
Box: 10 New York
2002-2007, undated
Box: 10 Northern New Jersey Socialist Party
circa 2009

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Series IV. Related Socialist Organizations, 1957-1972

Container 1     Title Date
Box: 10 Social Democratic Federation
1957-1960
Box: 10 Democratic Socialist Federation
1960-1972
Box: 10 Democratic Socialist Federation: East Bay, Berkeley, California
1960
Box: 10 Baltimore Socialist Youth Forum
1962

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Series V. Young People's Socialist League (YPSL), 1916-2002

Container 1     Title Date
Box: 10 1916-1917
1916-1917
Box: 10 1921-1926
1921-1926
Box: 10 1927-1928
1927-1928
Box: 10 1929
1929
Box: 10 1930
1930
Box: 10 1931
1931
Box: 10 1932
1932
Box: 10 1933
1933
Box: 10 1934
1934
Box: 11 1935 I
1935
Box: 11 1935 II
1935
Box: 11 1936
1936
Box: 11 1937 I
1937
Box: 11 1937 II
1937
Box: 11 1938
1938
Box: 11 1939 I
1939
Box: 11 1939 II
1939
Box: 11 1940
1940
Box: 11 1941
1941
Box: 11 1943-1946
1943-1946
Box: 11 1947
1947
Box: 11 1948-1949
1948-1949
Box: 11 1950-1952
1950-1952
Box: 11 1953-1954
1953-1954
Box: 11 1955-1959
1955-1959
Box: 11 1960
1960
Box: 11 1961
1961
Box: 11 1962
1962
Box: 11 1963
1963
Box: 11 1964
1964
Box: 11 1965-1966
1965-1966
Box: 11 1967
1967
Box: 11 1968-1969
1968-1969
Box: 11 1970
1970
Box: 12 1971-1975, 2002
1971-1975
Box: 12 Undated I
Box: 12 Undated II
Box: 12 Undated III
Box: 12 Undated IV
Box: 12 Undated V
Box: 12 Undated VI
Box: 12 Undated VII
Box: 12 Undated VII
Box: 12 Chicago (IL)
undated
Box: 12 Education Committee
undated
Box: 12 Fourth Internationalists
1937, undated
Box: 12 Indiana University, Bloomington (IN)
undated
Box: 12 Labor Action Group: Socialist Education Project (Austin, TX)
undated
Box: 12 Merger: Socialist Youth League
1950-1958
Box: 12 Newark (NJ)
1935
Box: 12 New England
1926
Box: 12 Pamphlets
undated
Box: 12 Philadelphia, PA
undated
Box: 12 Princeton Chapter
circa 1962
Box: 12 San Francisco
1911
Box: 12 Socialist Song Books
undated
Box: 12 Youth Committee for Thomas and Nelson
1936

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Series VI. Election Campaign Handbooks, 1908-1937

Container 1     Title Date
Box: 13 1911
Box: 13 1914 (in Finnish)
Box: 13 1916
Box: 13 1920
Box: 13 1932
Box: 13 1937
Box: 13 Campaign Committee (Philadelphia, PA)
1908-1909
Box: 13 Campaign Committee (Schenectady, NY)
1913
Box: 13 Information Department
1914
Box: 13 Mason County
circa 1913
Box: 13 National Campaign Committee
1912
Box: 13 National Campaign Committee
1928
Box: 13 National Headquarters
1908
Box: 13 New York State
1930
Box: 13 Socialist Municipal Campaign Committee
1933
Box: 13 Washington State
1916

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