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Guide to the Abraham Unger Papers TAM 157

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 Tamiment staff, 2010

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on April 24, 2018
Description is in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

 Edited by Heather Mulliner to include materials from 2016 accession  , January 2017

Historical/Biographical Note

Abraham Unger (1899-1975) was a lawyer, Communist, a founder and officer of the National Lawyers Guild and leader of its New York City Chapter, and beginning in 1948, partner in the law firm of Freedman and Unger. His defendants included the Communist Party USA, various state-level Party organizations, individual Communists and progressive activists, radical and/or Communist-associated labor unions and their leaders and activists, Puerto Rican nationalists, and fellow lawyers charged with contempt and other crimes in connection with their defense of radicals. Unger was a graduate of the New York University Law School. As a member of the International Labor Defense, he took part in the preparation of the defense of nine young African American men convicted of rape in Scottsboro, Alabama in 1931. Unger also defended the first twelve Communist Party USA top leaders indicted under the Smith Act in 1949 (for conspiring to advocate the violent overthrow of the U.S. government), and was himself indicted for contempt in 1953 for refusing to answer questions from Senator Joseph McCarthy before the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, including whether or not he headed the Party's section for professionals. Unger also defended Puerto Rican nationalist Juan Bernardo Lebron who was charged as a conspirator in the 1954 attack on the US House of Representatives, and petitioned for the commutation of Oscar Collazo's life sentence for his 1952 attempted assassination of Harry Truman.