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Guide to the David Lesser Manuscript TAM 140

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 Peter Meyer Filardo

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on April 19, 2018
Description is in English. using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Descriptive Summary

Title: David Lesser Manuscript
Dates [inclusive]: 1983
Abstract: David Lesser was a member of the Communist Party in the 1930s in New York City. This 468 page memoir focuses on his experiences, 1931-1950, including those relating to the 1937 disappearance of communist Juliet Stuart Poyntz.
Quantity: 0.25 Linear Feet (1 box)
Language: Materials are in English
Call Phrase: TAM 140

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Historical/Biographical Note

David Lesser was a member of the Communist Party in the 1930s, and resident of New York City. He was also for many years an industrial worker and rank and file union activist. In 1983 he completed an autobiographical typescript which he titled "The Extenders: a true memoir of the actual state of things", which is an idiosyncratic account of his political and personal experiences during the years 1931-1950. Mr. Lesser was much concerned about Soviet KGB (intelligence service) activity directed against the Communist Party. He alleges that Juliet Stuart Poyntz (1886-1937?), an influential communist activist, was murdered by the Soviets, and that he was the last person to see her alive.

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Scope and Content Note

The largest portion of the 468 page typescript is taken up with accounts, charges, and speculation regarding alleged KGB activities and agents, with emphasis on the case of Juliet Stuart Poyntz, which is discussed at some length in chapter five. whichc is titled "The Extenders." There are also accounts of alleged libertinism in the Party, Mr. Lesser's coming of age and romantic experiences, his shop-floor experiences, and his literary aspirations and disappointments.


Leaves are arranged numerically.

Arranged into one series.

Missing Title

  1. Container list.

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Lesser, David, ca. 1910-
  • Poyntz, Julia Stuart, 1886-1937?
  • Lesser, Martin

Document Type

  • Typescripts.

Subject Organizations

  • Soviet Union. Komitet gosudarstvennoĭ bezopasnosti
  • Communist Party of the United States of America

Subject Topics

  • Communists -- New York (State) -- New York.
  • Labor unions -- New York (State) -- New York.
  • Communists -- United States.
  • Espionage, Soviet -- United States.

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Administrative Information

Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Any rights (including copyright and related rights to publicity and privacy) held by David Lesser, the creator of this collection, were transferred to New York University in 2006 by Martin Lesser. Permission to publish or reproduce materials in this collection must be secured from the Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive. Please contact tamiment.wagner@nyu.edu.

Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date; David Lesser Manuscript; TAM 140; box number; folder number;
Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012, New York University Libraries.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by David Lesser in 1989. The accession number associated with this gift is 1989.013.

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Container List

Container list

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 Table of Contents
Box: 1 Folder : 2 Chapter 1: The Quality of Mercy [pp. 1-38]
Box: 1 Folder : 3 Chapter 2: The Engraved Image [pp. 39-59]
Box: 1 Folder : 4 Chapter 3: Leave No Stone Unturned [pp. 60-89]
Box: 1 Folder : 5 Chapter 4: The Wretched of the Earth [pp. 90-114]
Box: 1 Folder : 6 Chapter 5: The Extenders [pp. 115-149]
Box: 1 Folder : 7 Chapter 6: Theirs Is Not to Reason Why [pp. 150-193A]
Box: 1 Folder : 8 Chapter 7: Theirs Is but to Do or Die [pp. 194-235]
Box: 1 Folder : 9 Chapter 8: The Frame-Up [pp. 236-270]
Box: 1 Folder : 10 Chapter 9: The Plague [pp. 271-330]
Box: 1 Folder : 11 Chapter 10: Escape to America [pp. 331-355]
Box: 1 Folder : 12 Chapter 11: I Meet William Wright [pp. 356/362-376/381]
Box: 1 Folder : 13 Chapter 12: The Burning Forest [pp. 376/381-406]
Box: 1 Folder : 14 Chapter 13: Revenge [pp. 407-468]

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