Print / View Finding Aid as Single Page

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives logo

Guide to the Leslie Cagan Papers TAM 138

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 Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

Collection processed by Adrien Hilton, Paul Sager, Peter Filardo

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on April 18, 2018
Description is in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Scope and Content Note

Series I: Subject Files, Accessioned 1986-1992, documents a wide range of political activity. Cagan was involved in and an organizer of local and national organizations, coalition built mobilizations, demonstrations, marches and rallies, as well as state and national electoral campaigns. She also worked on progressive radio shows, was a paid organizer for the Mobilization for Survival, and participated in the National Committee for Independent Political Action. Through Cagan's various political interests, Series I highlights the coordination, planning, and administrative operations of the numerous organizations, coalition built mobilizations, and electoral campaigns with which she was involved.

While attending NYU in the late 1960s, Cagan participated in the Student Mobilization Committee Against the War in Vietnam and campus organizations working for a more democratic University. Series I has press clippings documenting demonstrations against the war in Vietnam as well as flyers and literature from her campus organizing. In the 1970s, with Cagan's burgeoning involvement in the feminist movement, the collection documents the formation of the Boston Area Socialist Feminist Organization and the Boston Women's Union. While holding weekly committee meetings, these feminist organizations developed principles of unity and political papers on organizational structure, program development, and socialist feminism. Series I also contains literature from feminist organizations across the nation, including the Twin Cities Women's Union and the Chicago Women's Liberation Union. Series I documents the formation of the Reproductive Rights National Network, a coalition of reproductive rights organizations, including material from several national organizing conferences as well as its petition campaign to defeat the Henry Hyde Amendment of 1976. In the late 1970s Cagan was involved in the movement for gay and lesbian rights, in which she helped coordinate and form a national Gay Speakers Bureau and the National Network for Gay and Lesbian Socialists, along with the Gay Socialist Organization of Boston. Included in Series I from these organizations are organizational packets, speaker's lists, pamphlets, literature, and flyers.

Through the formation of coalitions for specific mobilizations, Cagan organized several national demonstrations, rallies, and marches. In both New York City and Washington DC, she helped plan and organize some of largest demonstrations for nuclear disarmament and international peace and justice in U.S. history. Series I documents the formation of these coalitions and the demonstrations that followed, showing their administrative structure, outreach campaigns, financial, media, fundraising, and logistical committees, press coverage, as well as campaign produced flyers, posters, and literature.

Included in Series I is documentation about the foundation and political activities of the People's Alliance, which formed out of the July 4, 1976 Bicentennial counter demonstrations. Series I also contains organizational material pertaining to the May 6th Coalition, which mobilized for the March on Washington Against Nuclear Power in 1979, the Coalition for a Non-Nuclear World, the Coalition for a People's Alternative, which organized the People's Convention at the Democratic National Convention in New York City in 1980 and produced the "Declaration of Charlotte Street," a proclamation for political and economic justice.

Cagan was a lead organizer of the demonstrations in support of the United Nations Second Special Session on Disarmament as well as the United Nations Third Special Session on Disarmament, both held in New York City, in 1982 and 1988. From budgetary and financial documents to organizational mailings and outreach letters to flyers and posters, the material from these mobilizations is sizable. Pertaining to the logistical planning of the marches and rallies in support of the United Nations Special Sessions on Disarmament, Series I consists of march routes, correspondence with speakers and speaker's lists, press releases and press clippings, administrative meeting agendas and minutes, as well as post rally financial and legal material.

Additionally, Series I documents the 1985 April Actions for Peace, Jobs, and Justice and the 1987 Mobilization for Justice and Peace in Central America and South Africa both held in Washington DC. In 1984, Cagan organized a demonstration in New York City to stop U.S. involvement in Central America. Also in New York City, Cagan coordinated the Housing Action Week of 1988, a week of activities on housing and homelessness, which culminated in the largest housing mobilization in the City's history. Both of these mobilizations are represented in Series I with flyers, outreach and organizational material, and press coverage.

Throughout Cagan's political career founding and participating in grass roots organizations as well as planning for mass demonstrations and rallies, she was involved in both a paid and unpaid capacity with several other types of organizations as well. Throughout the 1970s, Cagan helped produce feminist radio shows through the Red Tape Media Collective for the Boston Feminist Radio Network and in 1971-1972 she worked for the St. Louis Women's Radio Show. Correspondence and financial documentation pertaining to the shows are included in Series I. From 1980-1986, Cagan worked as program coordinator with the Mobilization for Survival, a broad coalition of more than 100 national and local organizations committed to nuclear disarmament. From her work with the Mobilization for Survival, Series I includes documentation on the organization's non-profit 501(c)(3) status, proposals for action and direction from affiliated organizations, as well as material from the Religious Task Force and the International Task Force pertaining to the United Nations Second Special Session on Disarmament. Included from Cagan's involvement with the National Committee for Independent Political Action, a broad coalition headed by Ted Glick, is executive and steering committee meeting agendas and minutes, outreach mailings, position papers, and material regarding their relationship to the National Rainbow Coalition. In addition, Series I documents Cagan's work organizing a concert series with Holly Near and inti-illimani from 1983-1984 for Cultural Work, Inc. as well as her work with the Redwood Records Cultural and Educational Fund.

Series II, Subject Files Accessioned 1993-29-2011 (unprocessed, folder level inventory) includes files on U.S. relations with Cuba, the 1989 New York City Mayoral campaign of David N. Dinkins, the antinuclear and peace movements, the Arrab-Israeli conflict, and the struggles over the governance of the Pacifica Foundation and its affiliated radio stations, including New York City's WBAI.


Series I is arranged alphabetically; Series II is unprocessed.

The files are grouped into 2 series:

Missing Title

  1. I, Subject Files Accessioned 1986-1992 (11 linear ft.)
  2. II, Subject Files Accessioned 1993-2011 (42 linear ft.)