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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
special.collections@nyu.edu


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

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Stewart, Chalmers K., 1910-1995
Source - dnr: Stewart, Betty Elkin
Title: Chalmers K. Stewart Papers
Dates [inclusive]: circa 1928-1995
Dates [bulk]: 1942-1958
Abstract: Chalmers K. Stewart was an active member of the Workers Party and Independent Socialist Leauge in the 1940s and 1950s. This collection contains an autobiographical typescript, internal documents of the Workers Party and Independent Socialist League, correspondence, writings, research notes, and photographs.
Quantity: 7.75 Linear Feet in 7 record cartons and 2 manuscript boxes.
Language: Materials are in English
Call Phrase: TAM.177

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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.

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Scope and Content Note

The Chalmers K. Stewart Papers contains an autobiographical typescript, internal documents of the Workers Party and Independent Socialist League, correspondence, writings, research notes, and photographs.

Arrangement

The materials are arranged in the order in which they were received from the donor, who grouped the collection into three series:

Series I: Autobiographical Typescript and Biographical Materials
Series II: Workers Party and Independent Socialist League Activities
Series III: Graduate Education and Later Writings and Activities

The addendum received in 2001 has been added as Series IV: Addendum.

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Stewart, Chalmers K., 1910-1995
  • Stewart, Betty Elkin

Document Type

  • Bulletins.
  • Administrative records.
  • Correspondence.

Subject Organizations

  • Socialist Workers Party
  • Independent Socialist League
  • Workers Party (1940-1949)

Subject Topics

  • Socialism.
  • Socialism -- United States.
  • Socialists -- United States.
  • Socialists.
  • Socialists -- United States -- Biography.
  • Socialism -- United States -- 20th century.

Subject Places

  • Akron (Ohio)
  • New Jersey.

Occupation(s)

  • High school teachers.

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Administrative Information

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 Chalmers K. Stewart was not transferred to New York University. Permission to use materials must be secured from the copyright holder.

Preferred Citation

Identification of item, date; Chalmers K. Stewart Papers; TAM 177; box number; folder number; Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, New York University.

Related Archival Materials

There is an oral history interview with Chalmers Stewart in the Oral History of the American Left: Radical Histories Collection (OH 002).

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Betty Elkin Stewart in 1995; additional materials were donated in 2001. The accession numbers associated with this gift are 1995.031, 1995.032, and NPA.2002.021.

Processing Information

Series descriptions and biographical information have been modified from information provided by Chalmers K. Stewart's widow, Betty Elkin Stewart. Photographs had been separated from this collection in 2001 and were established as a separate collection, the Chalmers K. Stewart Photographs (PHOTOS 130). In 2013, the photograph collection was reincorporated into the Chalmers K. Stewart Papers.

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Container List

Box
4
Box
15
Box
16
 

Series I: Autobiographical Typescript and Biographical Materials, circa 1985-1995

Scope and Content Note

Series I includes an autobiographical typescript written during the late 1980s or early 1990s. It is in the format of a personal journal and describes Stewart's early years, his political activities, and extensive reflections on current affairs. This series also contains correspondence between Stewart and several friends and political associates, as well as memorabilia.

Box
1
Box
2
Box
3
Box
4
Box
10
Box
11
Box
12
Box
13
Box
14
 

Series II: Workers Party and Independent Socialist League Activities, 1942-1958

Scope and Content Note

Series II contains internal documents of the Workers Party and Independent Socialist League, as well as some correspondence. These internal bulletins, minutes, reports, memos, position papers, directives, and proceedings provide good documentation of the activities, internal dynamics, and evolution of the political views of these organizations. This series also contains correspondence to and from foreign comrades which Stewart handled at the request of the national office.

Box
8
 

Series III: Graduate Education and Later Writings and Activities, circa 1959-1995

Scope and Content Note

Series III contains notes and correspondence pertaining to a proposed dissertation on the sociology of the Workers Party and Independent Socialist League and other writing and correspondence.

Box
5
Box
6
Box
7
Box
9
 

Series IV: Addendum, circa 1928-1995

Scope and Content Note

Series IV contains Stewart's diaries from the 1930s through the 1980s, correspondence to his mother and sister, friends' non-fiction writings and plays, poetry, and fiction and non-fiction writings. This series also includes photographs of Stewart's funeral, as well as a photograph album containing 67 black and white photographs with substantive captions depicting town life in North-Central West Virginia in 1947. Also included in this series are materials related to Stewart's memorial service and letters of condolence sent to Betty Elkin Stewart.

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