Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives logo

Preliminary Inventory to the Kenneth Neill Cameron Papers TAM 186

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 Molly Kovel, 1999; Peter Filardo, 2009

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on April 27, 2018
Description is in English. using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Descriptive Summary

Title: Kenneth Neill Cameron Papers
Dates [inclusive]: 1910-1992
Abstract: Kenneth Neill Cameron (1908-1994), a Shelley scholar, best known for his four-volume Shelley and His Circle, was also the author of a biography of Joseph Stalin, and works on Marxist philosophy, world history, and ecology, and a volume of poetry. Cameron was a professor of English at Indiana University and later at New York University. The collection consists mainly of published and unpublished typescripts, including an incomplete autobiographical typescript, and correspondence, both editorial and personal. The unpublished typescripts include an incomplete autobiography, a biography of Enver Hoxha, Communist leader of Albania, several plays, and writings about several Communist leaders and heads of state. There are also articles, reviews, notes, reports, newspaper clippings, and various biographical materials, and materials related to his own political activities as a Communist, including his U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) file.
Quantity: 9 Linear Feet (12 boxes)
Mixed Materials [Box]: 1-12
Call Phrase: TAM 186

Return to Top »

Historical/Biographical Note

Kenneth Neill Cameron (1908-1994), was a scholar of Percy Byshhe Shelley's writings and social and political milieu, best known for his four-volume Shelley and His Circle (1961-1970), and a Communist activist and author. Cameron was born in 1908 in Barrow-in-Furness, Lancashire, England. He moved with his parents to Montreal in 1914, where he lived until he received his B.A. from McGill in 1931. As a Rhodes Scholar, he attended Oxford University and received a second B.A. in 1933, a D. Litt. in 1934, and an M.A. in 1936. He also received a Ph.D. in 1939 from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and, much later, an honorary Ph.D. from McGill University in 1970.

Cameron first encountered radical politics in England, partly through his uncle Jack Cameron, who was a radical shipyard worker in Liverpool, and partly through campus activism at Oxford. In 1934 he visited the U.S.S.R. and was deeply moved by what he saw. Cameron joined the Canadian Communist Party around 1935. In 1936 he was the Toronto Executive Secretary of the League against War and Fascism.

At the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Cameron studied under the scholar William Emery Leonard, and continued his activism in the Communist Party of the United States. In the fall of 1939, Cameron began what was to be a thirteen-year career at Indiana University, Bloomington, where he was especially active in the American Federation of Teachers and was also involved with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. At Indiana University, Cameron lived for a short while with Salvadore Luria, later a Nobel Laureate in Physics. Around the same time (1946), he married Mary Bess Owen, a professor of sociology.

In 1951, as the political climate became more hostile to Communists, partly as a result of the success of his first book, The Young Shelley: Genesis of a Radical (1950), Cameron left Indiana University and was given a job at the private Carl H. Pforzheimer Library, now part of the New York Public Library, in New York City. He edited  Shelley and His Circle, overseeing the first four volumes produced by that library. During the 1950s, he was active in the disarmament movement in New York. In the 1960s he began teaching at New York University, first as an adjunct, and then as a full-time professor in 1963. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1967 for ongoing research on Shelley, which culminated in the publication of  Shelley: The Golden Years, in 1974

In his later years, Cameron was involved in the movements against the Vietnam War, the far right, and nuclear testing. He was Professor Emeritus of English at NYU from 1974-75, and then retired. While his Shelley scholarship did not end here, he chiefly wrote on a number of other topics in the 1970s and 1980s, producing a book of poems in 1977, as well as several books on Marxism, a biography of Joseph Stalin, ecology, and a world history. He also wrote several unpublished manuscripts on Shelley, various Communist leaders and statesmen, including an unpublished book on Enver Hoxha, Communist leader of Albania, four unpublished plays, and his unfinished autobiography. He died in March, 1994.

Books by Cameron in chronological order:

  • The Young Shelley: Genesis of a Radical, Macmillan, 1950
  • Editor, Percy Bysshe Shelley: Selected Poetry and Prose, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1951
  • The Enormous Turtle (comic novel under the pseudonym Warren Madden), Bobbs-Merrill, 1954
  • The Esdaile Notebook: A volume of Early Prose and Poetry by Shelley (1964)
  • Shelley and His Circle (1961-1970)
  • Romantic Rebels; Essays on Shelley and his Circle (1973)
  • Humanity and Society: A World History (1973)
  • Shelley: The Golden Years (1974)
  • Marx and Engels Today: A Modern Dialogue on Philosophy and History (1976)
  • Poems for Lovers and Rebels (Privately printed, 1977)
  • Marxism: The Science of Society—An Introduction (1985)
  • Stalin, Man of Contradiction (1987)
  • Atmospheric Destruction and Human Survival (1992)
  • Marxism: A Living Science (1993)
  • Dialectical Materialism and Modern Science (1995)


  • See also, "Town and Gown: Excerpt from the Bloomington, Indiana Memoir of Kenneth Neill Cameron, Communist Academic in the Working Class Movement." (Peter Meyer Filardo, ed.) Labor History, 36, no. 4 (1995): 612-24.

Return to Top »

Scope and Content Note

Series I, Biographical, is divided into four subseries:  A: Autobiography: Cameron began a full-length autobiography, but left it unfinished. The first seven chapters provide a detailed account of his life from 1908-1952, while the rest of the chapters are in rough draft format. Also included in this section are Cameron's notes and research for the autobiography, as well as several profiles of him written by colleagues in his literary field, including one Donald Reiman;  B: Political Papers, Reviews, Clippings, and Notes: This section contains Cameron's FBI file, as well as documents and clippings from his political activities. It also contains book reviews and a "Personal Political Statement."  C: Miscellaneous Biographical Material: contains various diplomas and grant applications which list Cameron's academic activities;  D: Correspondence: Cameron kept a very active correspondence with his political uncle Jack in Liverpool. Also included in this section are business-related letters from academic institutions, as well as various personal letters, from Howard Fast, Salvadore Luria, Mrs. David Erdman, and other friends and family.  NOTE: This collection is housed offsite and advance notice is required for use.

Series II, Shelley, is divided into four subseries;  A: Shelley Correspondence: This section contains letters to and from colleagues in the literary field. William Emery Leonard and Carl H. Pforzheimer are just two of the numerous scholars who consulted Cameron on the subject of Shelley;  B: Notes, Reports, and Memos: As editor of the Pforzheimer Library's Shelley collection, Cameron wrote up numerous reports and memos on the cataloging process and various acquisitions. Also documented is an exhibit of Lord Abinger's Shelley materials, and a research trip taken by Cameron in 1961;  C: Articles: A number of articles on Shelley and Shelley scholarship. This section includes an early article by Elizabeth Cameron (Cameron's first wife) on Mary Wollstonecraft and an article by Cameron on Shelley and Marx from 1979;  D: Reviews: This section contains reviews of Cameron's works, his replies to those reviews, and some correspondence with publishers of his Shelley scholarship.

Series III, Other Writings, is divided into three subseries:  A: Novel and Plays: Cameron's comic novel The Enormous Turtle was published in 1954; this is an earlier draft, titled The Avenging Turtle, from around 1950. There are also four unpublished plays, two of which are also unfinished. One is about Shelley and the other three seem to be about political matters.  B: Poetry: Cameron wrote poetry over the entire course of his life but the majority of his efforts were contained in the years 1950-1967. In this section are several drafts of some poems, but mostly one of each. The poems are both personal (some are quite graphic) and political.  C: Marx Dialogues: Cameron wrote this rather long manuscript around 1971 and spent the next five years searching for a publisher. He eventually had them published, but in a much shorter form, as Marx and Engels Today: A Modern Dialogue on Philosophy and History (1976). This manuscript is his original version. The section also contains the publisher's rejection letters, as well as correspondence with figures such as Howard Zinn, Amiri Baraka, E. P. Thompson, Al Pinkney, Corliss Lamont, Herbert Aptheker, Andrew Rothstein, and Irwin Silber, from whom Cameron was trying to get pre-publication comments.

Series IV, Miscellaneous Unprocessed: This series contains published and unpublished writings and correspondence related thereto, some personal correspondence, including correspondence with Communist historian Herbert Aptheker, a folder relating to the W. Alphaeus Hunton College Teachers' Club of the CPUSA, and one relating to efforts to defend former East German Communists from prosecution. The manuscripts include an unpublished biography of Enver Hoxha, Communist leader of Albania, whole or partial drafts of several of his published works, chapter length published and unpublished writings on Nikolai Bukharin, Vladimir Lenin, Mao Zedung, sociobiology, and various Marxist-oriented historical and philosophical topics.


Material is unprocessed.

The files are organized into four series:

Missing Title

  1. I, Biographical
  2. II, Percy Bysshe Shelley
  3. III, Writings, Other
  4. IV, Miscellaneous Unprocessed Materials (box level descriptions available)

Return to Top »

Access Points

Subject Names

  • Aptheker, Herbert, 1915-2003.
  • Baraka, Imamu Amiri, 1934-
  • Bukharin, Nikolai Ivanovich, 1888-1938.
  • Mao, Zedong, 1893-1976.
  • Luria, S. E. (Salvador Edward), 1912-
  • Lenin, Vladimir Il'ich, 1870-1924
  • Lamont, Corliss, 1902-1995.
  • Thompson, E. P. (Edward Palmer), 1924-1993.
  • Stalin, Joseph, 1879-1953.
  • Shelley, Percy Bysshe, 1792-1822.
  • Pforzheimer, Carl H. (Carl Howard), 1879-1957.
  • Cameron, Mary Owen
  • Cameron, Kenneth Neill
  • Hoxha, Enver, 1908-1985
  • Fast, Howard, 1914-2003.

Document Type

  • Autobiographies.
  • Manuscripts (document genre)
  • Correspondence.
  • Plays (performed works)
  • Poems.
  • Manuscripts for publication.

Subject Organizations

  • W. Alphaeus Hunton College Teachers' Club (Communist Party of the United States of America)
  • Communist Party of the United States of America (Ind.)
  • Carl H. Pforzheimer Library
  • Indiana University, Bloomington
  • Communist Party of the United States of America

Subject Topics

  • College teachers' unions -- Indiana -- Bloomington.
  • Communism -- Soviet Union.
  • Greenhouse effect, Atmospheric.
  • Dialectical materialism.
  • Philosophy, Marxist.
  • Labor unions -- Indiana -- Bloomington.
  • World history.
  • Communism.
  • Communism -- Albania.
  • Communism -- China.
  • Communism -- Indiana.
  • Communists -- United States.

Subject Places

  • Albania.
  • China.
  • Bloomington (Ind.)

Return to Top »

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 Kenneth Neill Cameron was not transferred to New York University. Permission to use materials must be secured from the copyright holder.

Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date; Kenneth Neill Cameron Papers; TAM 185; 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 Kenneth Neill Cameron in 1994 according to the terms of his last will and testament (1993). The accession number associated with this gift is 1993.010.

Return to Top »

Container List

Series I, Biographical.

Subseries A: Autobiography.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 The Many and the Few - Chapter One: "The McGill Group"
Jun 1986
Box: 1 Folder : 2 Chapter Two: "The Oxford Years"
Jun 1986
Box: 1 Folder : 3 Chapter Three: "Growing Up"
Jun 1986
Box: 1 Folder : 4 Chapter Four: "Toronto: War, Fascism, and Communism"
Jun 1986
Box: 1 Folder : 5 Chapter Five: "Madison, Wisconsin"
Jun 1986
Box: 1 Folder : 6 Chapter Six: "Bloomington, Indiana"
Aug 1986
Box: 1 Folder : 7 Chapter Seven: "Journeys," Rough Draft
Box: 1 Folder : 8 Chapter Eight: "New York— 1950s," Rough Draft
Box: 1 Folder : 9 Chapter Nine: "Travels, 1961: Moscow to Stornoway" Rough Draft
Box: 1 Folder : 10 Chapter Ten: "New York: The 1960s," Rough Draft
Box: 1 Folder : 11 Chapter Eleven: "New York, the 1970s," Incomplete. (Includes notes and Correspondence intended for the Chapter)
Box: 1 Folder : 12 Collections for End of Autobiography
Box: 1 Folder : 13 Autobiography Notes and Outlines
circa 1983-1986
Box: 1 Folder : 14 Misc. Correspondence, Grouped (by Cameron) by Autobiography Chapter. (Includes note from Leonard Cohen)
Box: 1 Folder : 15 Profile of Kenneth Cameron, by Donald Reiman.
Box: 1 Folder : 16 Miscellaneous Biographical Material

Subseries B: Political Papers, Reviews, Clippings, and Notes.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 2 Folder : 1 "The Alarm Clock," a McGill Labor Club Pamphlet, with poem (p. 6) by Cameron
Dec 1933
Box: 2 Folder : 2 "War, Fascism, and the United Front," by Cameron
Box: 2 Folder : 3 Clippings and letters on Indiana University campus politics— includes Indiana University Teachers' Union Material
Box: 2 Folder : 4 Clippings and notes on Bloomington, Indiana Murder Case
Mar 1946
Box: 2 Folder : 5 Cameron's FBI File, with notes for Autobiography and Letters to/from FBI
Box: 2 Folder : 6 Correspondence relating to House Un-American Activities Subpoena, Hearings, etc.
Apr 1958-May 1958
Box: 2 Folder : 7 Bess Cameron's Diary of England/Russia Trip
Box: 2 Folder : 8 Anti-Vietnam Correspondence, etc, at NYU.
Box: 2 Folder : 9 "Facing the Universe," Table of Contents and Introduction; Personal Political Statement
circa 1980
Box: 2 Folder : 10 Anti-Nuclear Material, NYU
Box: 2 Folder : 11 Reviews and Replies to Marxism, the Science of Society

Subseries C: Miscellaneous Biographical Material.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 2 Folder : 12 Diploma (PhD, 1939); Recommendations
Box: 2 Folder : 13 Biographical Information, from Grant Proposals, etc.
Box: 2 Folder : 14 Grant Applications (and correspondence), including Annual Academic Reports from Indiana University
Box: 2 Folder : 15 Guggenheim Proposal (and acceptance)
Box: 2 Folder : 16 McGill Honorary Degree
Oct 1970

Subseries D: Correspondence.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 2 Folder : 17 Letter from Cameron's father to mother; Lusitania Program
1910; 1914
Box: 2 Folder : 18 Correspondence with Uncle Jack Cameron, and Aunt Isa
Box: 2 Folder : 19 Miscellaneous Correspondence (both personal and business)
Box: 2 Folder : 20 Personal Correspondence with Harold Files, Frank Scott, Howard Fast, Virginia Erdman, Liam Dunne, Cousin Helen, etc.
Box: 2 Folder : 21 Correspondence, etc., with Indiana University
Box: 2 Folder : 22 The Move from the Charles H. Pforzheimer Library to NYU – Correspondence; NYU retirement correspondence
1962-1965; 1970-1973

Return to Top »

Series II, Shelley.

Subseries A: Shelley Correspondence.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 3 Folder : 1 Letters Thanking Cameron for Articles (selected)
Box: 3 Folder : 2 Correspondence with Pforzheimer family
Box: 3 Folder : 3 Correspondence with other scholars re Charles H. Pforzheimer Library catalogue
Box: 3 Folder : 4 Correspondence with Charles H. Pforzheimer Library
Box: 3 Folder : 5 Correspondence with Charles H. Pforzheimer Library regarding Galleys
Box: 3 Folder : 6 Correspondence with Keats-Shelley Association
1951-1953; 1992
Box: 3 Folder : 7 Correspondence with Shelley Society of New York
Box: 3 Folder : 8 Misc. Shelley Correspondence
Box: 3 Folder : 9 Misc. Shelley Correspondence

Subseries B: Notes, Reports, and Memos.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 3 Folder : 10 Charles H. Pforzheimer Library: Shelley and His Circle Collection: Quarterly Reports, Meeting Notes, and Explanatory Memos
Box: 3 Folder : 11 Charles H. Pforzheimer Library: Shelley and His Circle Collection: Notes on individual Shelley/Godwin etc. Acquisitions
circa 1953-1957
Box: 3 Folder : 12 Charles H. Pforzheimer Library: Documents from 'Lord Abinger' Shelley Exhibit
Box: 3 Folder : 13 Research Trip in Europe: Notes etc.

Subseries C: Articles on Shelley.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 4 Folder : 1 Essay and notes on Mary Wollstonecraft, by Elizabeth Cameron (Cameron's first wife)
circa 1937
Box: 4 Folder : 2 Articles on Shelley
Box: 4 Folder : 3 Article on Shelley's "Epipsychidion," Published by the M.L.A. Quarterly
Box: 4 Folder : 4 Introduction to Shelley: Poetry and Prose (published by Rinehart)
circa 1948
Box: 4 Folder : 5 Survey of Shelley Scholarship, 1940-1953
circa 1954
Box: 4 Folder : 6 Articles and Notes on Shelley Scholarship
Box: 4 Folder : 7 Cameron's Published Reviews of Shelley Scholarship
Box: 4 Folder : 8 Article on Shelley and Marx

Subseries D: Reviews, etc.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 4 Folder : 9 Articles, Reviews, and Correspondence over a few minor Shelley controversies
Box: 4 Folder : 10 Reviews, etc for The Young Shelley: Genesis of a Radical; Romantic Rebels
1949-1951; 1974
Box: 4 Folder : 11 Reviews for Shelley's Esdaile Notebook, edited by Cameron (including P.E.N. invititation with James Baldwin)
Box: 4 Folder : 12 Reviews and Publishing Notes for Shelley and his Circle, volumes III and IV
Box: 4 Folder : 13 Reviews of Cameron's Shelley: The Golden Years (also letters with Harvard University Press)

Return to Top »

Series III, Other Writings.

Subseries A: Novels and Plays.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 4 Folder : 14 The Avenging Turtle, a Novel, chapters 1-4 (a draft of  The Enormous Turtle, published 1954)
circa 1950
Box: 4 Folder : 15 Avenging Turtle, chapters 5-7
circa 1950
Box: 4 Folder : 16 Avenging Turtle, chapters 8-10 (end)
circa 1950
Box: 5 Folder : 1 "Stars in the Morning," a play about Shelley
Nov 1961
Box: 5 Folder : 2 Untitled, unfinished play
circa 1962
Box: 5 Folder : 3 "The Flames Will Curl," unfinished play
Jul 1963
Box: 5 Folder : 4 "The Third Wave," political play about South America
circa 1982

Subseries B: Poetry.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 5 Folder : 5 Miscellaneous Poems (mostly unpublished)
circa 1930-1970
Box: 5 Folder : 6 Poems: Personal and Revolutionary
Box: 5 Folder : 7 Poems from Old and New — two versions
1963- 1967
Box: 5 Folder : 8 "Love's Progress" (a poetry cycle)
Box: 5 Folder : 9 Later Poems (In Poetry for Lovers and Rebels?)
circa 1970-1992
Box: 5 Folder : 10 Poetry Correspondence (with friends and publishers)
1961-1963, 1977

Subseries C: Marx Dialogues.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 6 Folder : 1 Dialogues on Marx and Engels: Preface (2 versions) and Sessions 1-3
circa 1971
Box: 6 Folder : 2 Dialogues, Sessions 4-5
circa 1971
Box: 6 Folder : 3 Dialogues, Sessions 6-7 (6 has no end notes)
circa 1971
Box: 6 Folder : 4 Dialogues, Sessions 8-9
circa 1971
Box: 6 Folder : 5 Dialogues, Session 11 (Session 10 missing)
circa 1971
Box: 6 Folder : 6 Correspondence re Dialogues: Publisher's rejections etc, and Pre-publication Comments (including A. Baraka, H. Zinn, E.P. Thompson, etc.)

Return to Top »

Series IV, Miscellaneous Unprocessed Materials.

Container 1     Title Date
Box: 7 Writings, published and unpublished, and related correspondence; topics are capitalism, socialism, China and the Soviet Union, literary criticism.
Box: 8 Writings, published and unpublished, and related correspondence. Topics include Marxism and literature; Marxist philosophy; an article on Nikolai Bukharin, articles critiquing "revisionism" and Gorbachev; correspondence with several friends and colleagues, including Herbert Aptheker; and a file on efforts to defend Erich Honecker and other former East German Communists from prosecution.
Box: 9 Writings, published and unpublished. Topics include Stalin, Mao Zedong, Enver Hoxha (Communist leader of Albania), Marxist philosophy, world history, ecology and Marxism.
undated, 1970s-1980s
Box: 10 Writings, published and unpublished, and related correspondence. Most appear to be drafts, whole or partial, of his published books Atmospheric Destruction and Human Survival (1992),  Marxism: A Living Science (1993), and  Dialectical Materialism and Modern Science (1995). There is also a partial typescript for an unpublished book about Enver Hoxha; a folder titled "Factions" relating to the 1989-1991 internal struggle within the Communist Party USA; a folder containing several issues [1987-9] of, and correspondence relating to  Red Academy, a publication of the W. Alphaeus Hunton College Teachers Club of the CPUSA. [The original issues have been separated for cataloging, with copies retained in the folder.]
undated, 1980s-1990s
Box: 11 There is one large folder of correspondence, late 1940s-1980s; the rest of the box contains writings, published and unpublished, and related correspondence. Topics include Marxist theory and tactics, Lenin, Mao Zedong, Enver Hoxha, and sociobiology.
Box: 12 Writings, published and unpublished, and related correspondence. Topics include Enver Hohxa, Mao Zedong. There are also several folders of personal correspondence, typically with friends and fellow academics, and some correspondence relating to an unfavorable review of his Shelley scholarship.

Return to Top »

Return to Top »