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Guide to the Chalmers K. Stewart Papers TAM.177

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
2nd Floor
New York, NY 10012
(212) 998-2596

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

Collection processed by Bonnie Gordon

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on March 02, 2020
Finding aid written in English. using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

 Edited by Michael German to reflect the rehousing of materials.   , February 2020

Historical/Biographical Note

Chalmers K. Stewart was born in Bloomington, Illinois on August 10, 1910 and moved to Akron, Ohio where he entered the third grade. He graduated from the University of Akron with a degree in English in 1932. He received his Masters Degree in English in 1933. From 1933 to 1942 he taught English and Central and East High Schools in Akron and was an organizer of the A.F.L. Teachers Union, Local 287. During the formation of the C.I.O., he helped to start the Progressive Workers School, which attracted many workers who later became leaders of the United Rubber Workers, C.I.O.

In 1933 Stewart joined the Communist League of America, which was then in the process of joining A. J. Muste's American Labor Party. Both of these organizations later joined the Socialist Workers Party (SWP). He was one of the founders of the Akron branch of the SWP and later became part of the group that split from the SWP to form the Workers Party (WP) (later Independent Socialist League [ISL]) in 1940.

In mid-1943 Stewart was inducted into the U.S. Army and served in France, Belgium and Germany as a combat infantryman in the First Infantry Division until the end of 1945. When he returned from the war, Stewart served as WP organizer in West Virginia, Philadelphia, and New Jersey, until the ISL joined the Socialist Party in 1958. During this time, he attended West Virginia University, Rutgers University and the New School of Social Research, majoring in Sociology, and planned to do his PhD thesis on the WP/ISL. Although this project was never completed, he recorded a number of taped interviews with secondary leaders of the movement. From late 1945 to the middle of 1950, he served as a member of the WP/ISL National Committee until his health forced him to curtail his activities.

From 1950 to 1958, he was employed as a draftsman-checker-designer by various New Jersey engineering firms. In 1959, he returned to teaching, spending four years teaching at high schools in New Jersey. In 1963, he moved to Oyster Bay, New York, and taught English at Huntington High School, Huntington, New York, until he retired in 1973. In 1979 he began dividing his time between Oyster Bay and Akron, finally making Akron his only home in 1989. On November 13, 1990, he married Betty Lee Elkin of Tucson, Arizona, a former National Secretary of the Socialist Party. Stewart contributed to a number of socialist journals under the names James Fenwick, Blake Lear and Donald A. Hill. He died of complications following a stroke on February 26, 1995.