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Guide to the Elizabeth Gurley Flynn Photographs PHOTOS 018

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 Mary Allison Farley, 1988; Erika Gottfried, 2003.

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on September 04, 2018
Description is in English. using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Descriptive Summary

Title: Elizabeth Gurley Flynn Photographs
Dates [inclusive]: 1895-1967
Abstract: Elizabeth Gurley Flynn (1890-1964) was a leading Irish-American Communist, feminist, labor organizer, orator, and campaigner for civil liberties. While barely in her twenties, she became an organizer for the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and a leader of some of its most famous strikes. She was a founder of the American Civil Liberties Union, and also worked to try to save the celebrated imprisoned anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti from execution. In 1936, she joined the Communist Part of the United States (CPUSA), in short order becoming a member of its Central Committee, and later of its Political Bureau, and finally Chair, in 1961-1964. During these years she wrote a bi-weekly column "Life of the Party" for the Party's newspaper, the Daily Worker, wrote an autobiography, ran for political office, and attended international conferences. In 1952, her leadership role with the CPUSA resulted in her trial under the Smith Act, and subsequently her conviction and incarceration in a Federal prison for 28 months. She died in Moscow in September, 1964. The approximately 239 photographs in this collection--almost exclusively black and white prints-span the 1890s to the 1960s. They document not only Flynn's public role as a revolutionary and spokesperson for labor and civil liberties, but also her private roles as mother, lover, and family member.
Quantity: 1.5 Linear Feet in three manuscript boxes.
Quantity: ca. 239 items (3x2, 5x7, 8x10; b&w)
Call Phrase: PHOTOS 018

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Historical/Biographical Note

Elizabeth Gurley Flynn (1890-1964), was a leading Irish-American Communist, socialist, feminist, labor organizer, orator, and campaigner for civil liberties. Raised by socialist and Irish nationalist parents, she gave her first speech at the age of fifteen. She became an organizer for the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and while aiding the Western Federation of Miners was briefly married to Jack Jones, the father of her son Fred, born in 1910. During her involvement in the IWW's Lawrence, Massachusetts textile strike of 1912 she met and fell in love with anarchist organizer Carlo Tresca, with whom she lived for the next twelve years. In 1917 she founded and chaired the International Liberty Defense League (later the Workers Liberty Defense Union) until 1924, when the International Labor Defense was formed. She was also an officer of the Garland Fund, and a founder of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). After the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti in 1927, Flynn fell seriously ill and spent nine years in Oregon where she lived with feminist activist Dr. Marie Equi. In 1936 Flynn returned to New York and joined the Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA), in short order becoming a member of its Central Committee, and later its Political Bureau, and finally Chair, 1961-1964. During these years she wrote a bi-weekly column "Life of the Party" for the Daily Worker, wrote an autobiography, (variously,  I Speak My Own Pieceand  The Rebel Girl), ran for political office, attended international conferences, was expelled from the ACLU in 1940 for her Communist Party membership. In 1952, her leadership role with the CPUSA resulted in her trial under the Smith Act and in her conviction and imprisonment for 28 months in prison under the Smith Act. Upon her release, Flynn wrote a prison memoir, published as  The Alderson Story. She died in Moscow in September, 1964.

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Scope and Content Note

The photographs in this collection document not only Flynn's public role as a spokesperson for labor and civil liberties but also her more private roles as mother and family member. More than half of the photographs are images of Flynn and her family and friends. Included are several hand-inscribed portraits from Flynn, her son's high school graduation photograph inscribed to Flynn. Many of the early portraits are original albumen prints.

The approximately 239 photographs in this collection--almost exclusively black and white prints-span the 1890s to the 1960s. They document not only Flynn's public role as a revolutionary and spokesperson for labor and civil liberties, but also her private roles as mother, lover, and family member. More than half of the images are of Flynn and her family and friends. The remainder document her work with the Industrial Workers of the World and the Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA), and include shots of Flynn at two of the IWW's major strikes--the 1912 Lawrence, Massachusetts, textile workers' strike, and the 1913 silkworkers' strike in Paterson, New Jersey--and of her 1961 trip to the Soviet Union as Chair of the CPUSA. Individuals pictured include leading American Communists and IWW leaders.

Besides numerous portraits of Flynn herself, persons specifically pictured include, but are not limited to, her family, including mother Annie Flynn, son Fred Flynn, sister Kathie Flynn, father Thomas Flynn, and one of Flynn's nieces, Roberta Bobba; IWW comrades, Carlo Tresca, Joseph Ettor, Arturo Gionvanitti, Frank Little, and William "Big Bill" Haywood; leading American Communists and CPUSA friends and acquaintances, "Mother" Ella Reeve Bloor, Ann Burlech, Claudia Jones, Benjamin Davis, Eugene Dennis, Michael Gold, Gus Hall, Grace Hutchins, Bill McKie, Steve Nelson, William L Patterson, Pettis Perry, Irving Slavin, and Carl Winter. Others include Helen Keller, Kate Richards O 'Hare, Hannah Sheehy Skeffington, Helen Stassona; Mary Heaton Vorse; Judge O.N. Hilton, Marie Equi, and a group portrait (ca. 1906/1907) of the Harlem Socialist Club.

Arrangement

Arrangement is topical.

The files are grouped into 1 series:

Missing Title

  1. Container list

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Flynn, Fred, 1910-1940 -- |v Portraits
  • Flynn, Elizabeth Gurley -- |v Portraits
  • Giovannitti, Arturo M., 1884-1959 -- |v Portraits
  • Flynn, Katherine. -- |v Portraits
  • Tresca, Carlo, 1879-1943. -- |v Pictorial works
  • O'Hare, Kate Richards, 1877-1948. -- |v Portraits
  • Ettor, Joseph J. -- |v Portraits
  • Haywood, Big Bill, 1869-1928. -- |v Portraits
  • Gold, Michael, 1893-1967 -- |v Portraits
  • Keller, Helen, 1880-1968. -- |v Portraits
  • Jones, Claudia, 1915-1964. -- |v Portraits
  • Vorse, Mary Heaton, 1874-1966
  • Hilton, O. N.--Portraits.
  • Bloor, Ella Reeve, 1862-1951
  • Patterson, William L. (William Lorenzo), 1890-1980
  • Little, Frank, d. 1917
  • McKie, Bill --Portraits.
  • Flynn, Thomas--Portraits.
  • Bobba, Roberta -- |v Portraits
  • Skeffington, Hannah Sheehy--Portraits.
  • Dennis, Eugene, 1905-1961. -- |v Portraits
  • Slavin, Irving--Portraits.
  • Equi, Marie -- |v Portraits
  • Stassona, Helen--Pictorial works.
  • Davis, Benjamin J. (Benjamin Jefferson), 1903-1964 -- |v Portraits
  • Perry, Pettis.
  • Burlech, Ann--Portraits.
  • Hall, Gus
  • Hutchins, Grace, 1885-
  • Winter, Carl, 1906-1991 -- |v Portraits
  • Flynn, Anne Gurley--Portraits.

Document Type

  • Negatives (photographic)
  • Black-and-white photographs.

Subject Organizations

  • Communist Party of the United States of America -- |v Pictorial works
  • Industrial Workers of the World -- |v Pictorial works
  • Harlem Socialist Club
  • Communist Party of the United States of America
  • Estate of Elizabeth Gurley Flynn

Subject Topics

  • Strikes and lockouts -- United States -v Pictorial works.
  • Women political activists -- United States -v Portraits.
  • Women radicals -- United States -v Portraits.
  • May Day (Labor holiday) -- United States -v Pictorial works.
  • Textile Workers' Strike, Lawrence, Mass., 1912 |v Pictorial works.
  • Textile Workers' Strike, Lowell, Mass., 1912 |v Pictorial works.
  • Silk Workers' Strike, Paterson, N.J., 1913 |v Pictorial works.
  • Strikes and lockouts -x Textile industry -- United States.
  • Women communists -- United States -v Portraits.
  • Women labor leaders -- United States -- Portraits.

Subject Places

  • Lawrence (Mass.) |v Pictorial works.
  • Lowell (Mass.) |v Pictorial works.
  • Paterson (N.J.) |v Pictorial works.
  • Washington Square Park (New York, N.Y.) |v Pictorial works.

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Administrative Information

Custodial History

After her death in 1964, the papers of Elizabeth Gurley Flynn were held by her estate, and eventually transferred to the custody of the Communist Party, USA.

Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright (and related rights to publicity and privacy) to materials in this collection, created by Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, was not transferred to New York University. Permission to use materials must be secured from the copyright holder.

Preferred Citation

Identification of item, date; Elizabeth Gurley Flynn Photographs; PHOTOS 018; 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

Elizabeth Gurley Flynn Papers (Tamiment 118).

Roberta Bobba–Peter Martin Photographs (Photographs 55)

Louis Weinstock Photographs (Photographs 77).

Immediate Source of Acquisition

In 1983 a portion of the papers of Elizabeth Gurley Flynn were donated to the Tamiment Library at New York University by the Communist Party, USA. These papers were, for the most part, concerned with Flynn's activities in the Communist Party, 1937-1964. In 1984 a second donation was made; this body of documents and papers from Flynn's earlier years and included the papers of her son, Fred Flynn. Photographs from these donations were established as a separate collection, the Elizabeth Gurley Flynn Photographs (PHOTOS 118). The accession number associated with these materials is 1964.003. Additionally, two black and white photographs found in repository have been added to this collection. The accession number associated with these images is NPA.2000.347. Forty five slides, donated by Rosalind Baxandall, were also added to this collection. The accession number associated with this gift is NPA.2001.036. Several CPUSA photographs related to Flynn were also added to the collection. The accession number associated with these images is NPA.2007.010.

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Container List

Container list

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 Portraits of E.G. Flynn, ca. 1905-1930 (26 items)
ca.1905-1930
Box: 1 Folder : 2 Portraits of E.G. Flynn, ca. 1939-1963 (26 items)
ca.1939-1963
Box: 1 Folder : 3 Family photographs, ca. 1912-1938 (33 items)
ca.1912-1938
Box: 1 Folder : 4 Family photographs (parents, sisters, Harlem Socialist club, sister Kathie's daughter and family), ca. 1895-1960 (37 items)
ca.1895-1960
Box: 1 Folder : 5 Early work with the IWW, ca. 1909-1934. (Butte, Montana, Lawrence Strike, Paterson Strike, Lowell, Massachusetts Strikers, Ettor and Giovanitti, Haywood, Tresca, speech in Seattle, Tampa May Day, Mesabi Range, Mary Heaton Vorse) (29 items)
ca.1909-1934
Box: 1 Folder : 6 Work with the CPUSA, ca. 1937-1963. Garibaldi Brigade, May Day 1938, at Frank Little's grave, Running for Congress 1954, Flynn's 60th Birthday, Claudia Jones, Detroit-Bill McKie and Carl Winter , Steve Nelson (36 items)
ca.1937-1963
Box: 2 Folder : 1 Trip to Russia via Berlin, ca. 1960-61. factory tours, Lenin Revolutionary Museum, Helen Stassona, XXII CPSU Congress, Grace and Louis Arnold, needlework of the industrial scene (41 items)
ca.1960-1961
Box: 2 Folder : 2 (Mixed Materials [31142062727907]) Other people and unidentified photos, ca. 1918- 1967. Gene Dennis, B.J. Davis, Helen Keller with inscriptions, Steve Nelson, Willa Cather, Dr. Marie Equi
1918-1967
Box: OS002 Folder : 1 (Mixed Materials)
Box: 2 Folder : 3 Oversize negatives and 35mm negatives
undated
Box: 2 Folder : 4 Kodachrome Slides (many are duplicates of photos in collection)
1903-1957
Box: 2 Folder : 5-6 (Mixed Materials [31142062727907]) Elizabeth Gurley Flynn photos, portraits
undated
Box: 3 Folder : 1-7 (Mixed Materials [31142062727915])
Box: 2 Folder : 7 Family and friends
undated
Box: 2 Folder : 8 Background materials
1911-1941
Box: 3 Folder : 8-9 Lower East Side election
1957
Box: 3 Folder : 10-11 Funeral
1964

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