Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives logo

Guide to the Bert Cochran Papers TAM 205

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, 2005

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on May 01, 2018
Description is in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Descriptive Summary

Title: Bert Cochran Papers
Dates [inclusive]: 1935-1978
Dates [bulk]: 1935-1955
Abstract: Bert Cochran (1916-1984) was a Trotskyist active in the Communist League of America (1934), the Workers Party of the United States (1935-37), in the Appeal Group within the Socialist Party, and in the automobile industry (1930s-40s), first in Cleveland within the Mechanics Educational Society of America, then in Detroit as head of the Socialist Workers Party Auto Fraction and as an activist in the United Automobile Workers of America. He left/was expelled from the SWP in 1954 for his leading role in the "Cochran-Clarke" faction, then helped found the magazine The American Socialist(1954-1959), and subsequently wrote seven books that covered labor and economics, and current domestic and international affairs. The collection contains correspondence, minutes, and reports relating to his labor and political activities, typescripts of speeches on various topics, and an (incomplete) untitled manuscript, a Marxist history of warfare and society.
Quantity: 2.25 Linear Feet (5 boxes)
Call Phrase: TAM 205

Return to Top »

Historical/Biographical Note

Bert Cochran (Dec 25, 1916 - Jun 4, 1984), an American Trotskyist, also known by the pseudonym, E. R. Frank, was born Alexander Goldfarb in Warsaw, Poland. He joined the Communist League of America in 1934, was a member of the American Workers Party (1935-1937), was a district organizer for the Cleveland district of the Mechanics Educational Society of America (MESA) in 1936-37 and was a member of the Appeal Group (within the Socialist Party), was a member of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) from its inception in 1938, serving on its National Committee for many years and, based in Detroit, was a leading figure in the SWP's work in organizing auto workers, serving as chair of the SWP's Auto Fraction, and was an activist in the United Automobile Workers of America.

He left/was expelled from the SWP in 1954 for his leading role in the "Cochran-Clarke" faction, which held dissenting views on the appropriate relationship to Stalinism, and in particular to Communist Party labor- movement activism and activists. Along with fellow ex-SWP members George Clarke and Harry Braverman, he founded the magazine The American Socialist(1954-1959). In 1949 he met his companion Cynthia Copeland Cochran (who is also the sister of Vince Copeland, also a Trotskyist activist and long-time leading figure in the Workers World Party).

Cochran wrote seven books. Two were on the labor movement: American Labor at Midpassage(1959) and  Labor and Communism: The Conflict that Shaped American Unions(1977). The others were:  The Cross of the Moment(1961),  The War System(1965),  Adlai  Stevenson: Patrician among the Politicians(1969),  Harry Truman and the Crisis Presidency(1973), and  Welfare Capitalism--and After(1984).

Return to Top »

Scope and Content Note

This collection is organized into two series: 1. Labor and Political Activities, and 2. Unpublished Writings. The collection contains correspondence, manuscripts, and minutes, reports, and other internal documents, principally from the Socialist Workers Party, and from the United Automobile Workers union. In addition to Cochran (often as E. R. Frank, or as "Burt" Cochran), notable correspondents and authors include George F. Addes, James Burnham, James Cannon, George Clarke, Farrell Dobbs, Vincent R. Dunne, Jules Geller, Rose Karsner, Homer Martin, Felix Morrow, A.J. Muste, Max Shachtman, Arne Swabeck, and Natalia Trotsky. There are also letters from SWP and UAW activists.

In the first series, the American Workers Party file (1935-36) contains discussion of the political and tactical issues involved in the "French Turn" (the mass entry of individual Trotskyists into the Socialist Party, so called after the tactic used in France). The bulk of the series provides concerns the SWP's activity within the automobile industry and the UAW, and the debates within the SWP on these matters. The documentation is most extensive for the years through 1943. There are lengthy analytical letters, confidential reports, club and auto fraction meeting minutes, leaflets and flyers distributed to the rank and file, and some UAW correspondence, minutes and other internal documents. Issues/events covered include: SWP internal debates on automobile industry and general labor union policy, UAW factionalism, 1937-39, and the SWP's initial support for President Homer Martin's faction, organizing auto workers, the conditions and status of auto industry workers employed under the Works Progress Administration (WPA), and responses to labor measures adopted by the U.S. government during World War II.

There are also numerous reports and statements on the international political and military situation during World War II, two letters from/regarding the (Trotskyist) Internationale Kommunisten Deutschlands (International Communist Party of Germany), and a copy of a 1944 letter from Natalia Trotsky relating to the nature of the Soviet Union. The post-World War II files contain reports and speeches and focus on national and international politics, notably Poland, Korea, and for Yugoslavia, a report from an SWP member who had visited Belgrade ca.1950. There is detailed discussion from 1945-46 of the political differences between the SWP majority and the Morrison (nee Albert Goldman) / Felix Morrow minority. There are also typescripts of several of Cochran's speeches from the 1950s on U.S. and international affairs.

Series two contains portions of two unpublished (and untitled and undated) manuscripts. The first is a partial manuscript (some 450 pp.), an explicitly Marxist study of warfare in human history that may have been written in the years preceding Cochran's study of post-World War II world politics and military policy, The War System(Macmillan, 1965). The second consists of one chapter, titled "Workers and Intellectuals" (ca.1978), from an untitled work.

Seeries three (unprocessed) contains correspondence, reports, manuscripts and clippings, most from the end of World War II through 1954, with a few earlier items. Major topics are internal debates within the Socialist Workers Party in the 1950s, including in regard to the "Pabloist" tendency, and the post-War labor movement. Among the manuscripts are several chapters from an untitled work by Cochran.


Within each series, the folders are arranged chronologically.

Organized into three series:

Missing Title

  1. 1. Labor and Political Activities
  2. 2. Unpublished Writings.
  3. 3. Addendum

Return to Top »

Access Points

Subject Names

  • Martin, Warren Homer, 1902-1968
  • Morrow, Felix.
  • Goldman, Albert.
  • Shachtman, Max, 1903-1972.
  • Karsner, Rose.
  • Swabeck, Arne.
  • Dunne, Vincent R. (Vincent Raymond), 1889-1970
  • Geller, Jules.
  • Addes, George F., 1910
  • Dobbs, Farrell
  • Burnham, James, 1905-1987
  • Trotskaia, Nataliia Ivanovna, 1882-1962.
  • Muste, Abraham John, 1885-1967.
  • Cannon, James P. (James Patrick), 1890-1974.
  • Clarke, George.
  • Cochran, Cynthia

Document Type

  • Manuscripts for publication.
  • Minutes (administrative records)
  • Reports.
  • Speeches.
  • Correspondence.

Subject Organizations

  • Socialist Workers Party
  • International Union, United Automobile Workers of America (CIO)
  • International Union, United Automobile, Aircraft, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America
  • Mechanics Educational Society of America
  • Internationale Kommunisten Deutschlands
  • American Workers Party

Subject Topics

  • War and society -- History.
  • Labor unions and communism -- United States.
  • Socialism -- United States -- 20th century.
  • Automobile industry workers -x Labor unions -- United States.
  • Communism -- United States -- 20th century

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 is this collection created by Bert Cochran 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; Bert Cochran Papers; TAM 205; 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.

Related Material at the Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

George Breitman Papers (TAM 169)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Materials were found in repository; provenance is unknown but were likely donated by Cynthia Copeland Cochran in 1998. The accession number associated with these materials is 1998.004.

Return to Top »

Container List

Series 1: Labor and Political Activities

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 United Automobile Workers Union
Box: 1 Folder : 2 American Workers PartyContents Include: Cochran Correspondence, Internal Documents. (Correspondents include: James Cannon, George Clarke, Rose Karsner, A.J. Muste, Max Shachtman, Arne Swabeck)
Box: 1 Folder : 3 Mechanics Educational Society of America (MESA): Cochran Correspondence with Matthew Smith (National Secretary).
Box: 1 Folder : 4 Unemployed Movement Activity - Ohio, New York
Box: 1 Folder : 5 Cochran: Notes (Midland Steel Strike); Speech (The Flint Sit-Downs: The Spirit of 1937)
Box: 1 Folder : 6 Socialist PartyContents Include: National Auto League Conference (Detroit, May 22-23) Minutes (participants included Victor Reuther and Walter Reuther); Unsigned letter (Nov 25, from Farrell Dobbs?) re Minneapolis Teamsters Movement.
Box: 1 Folder : 7 United Automobile Workers Correspondence (Includes: Cochran, George F. Addes, Homer Martin)
Box: 1 Folder : 8 Socialist Workers PartyContents Include: Cochran Correspondence (includes letters from James Cannon and George Clarke, and one from James Burnham); Minutes of National Auto Fraction Meeting (Detroit, Dec 25th).
Box: 1 Folder : 9 United Automobile Workers: Cochran Correspondence (principally with activists); Homer Martin memorandums; Internal Documents including Unity Caucus material.
Box: 1 Folder : 10 Anti-Communist Party Leaflets for Auto Workers (by Homer Martin supporters)
Box: 1 Folder : 11 Revolutionary Workers League. Cleveland Unit: An Open Letter to All Delegates to the UAW-CIO Convention.
Box: 1 Folder : 12 United Automobile WorkersContents Include: Cochran Correspondence; Cleveland Convention (March) and Other Factional Materials.
Jan 1939-May 1939
Box: 1 Folder : 13 Clarke, George: The Truth About the Auto Crisis: The Petty-Bourgois Leaders Before the Test of the Class Struggle (contra Shachtman, et al - 22 pp)
Box: 1 Folder : 14 Robins, Harold: Some of Our Opportunist Mistakes in the Auto Union (19 pp)
Box: 1 Folder : 15 Socialist Workers PartyContents: National Auto Conference Minutes, Detroit, May 5th; Pre-Plenum Discussion Bulletin vol. 3, no. 3, September; Correspondence and other documents)
Box: 1 Folder : 16 United Automobile Workers
Box: 1 Folder : 17 Socialist Workers PartyContents Include: Cochran correspondence, including James P. Cannon, C. Charles, Vincent Dunne, Jules Geller, automobile industry rank and file activists; Club Executive Minutes; Draft of Revised Declaration of Principles.
Box: 1 Folder : 18 Socialist Workers PartyContents Include: Correspondence (including Cannon, Cochran, Dobbs, Dunne, Jules Geller, G. Munis (Mexico, D.F.); 1942 Report of Outgoing Executive Board Detroit Branch; Resolutions.
Box: 1 Folder : 19 United Automobile Workers: Cochran correspondence
Box: 2 Folder : 1 [Cochran]: Report on the U.S. Political Situation (30 pp.)
Box: 2 Folder : 2 Socialist Workers PartyContents Include: Correspondence and Reports re Auto Fraction (George [Clarke?], Cochran, Dobbs, rank and file, etc.); Resolution on U.S. and Second World War.
Box: 2 Folder : 3 Morrow, Felix -- The First Phases of the Coming European Revolution: a criticism of the fifteenth anniversary plenum [19 pp]
Dec 1943-Jan 1944
Box: 2 Folder : 4 Labor Movement, Reports on [E.R. Frank, J. Lyons, anonymous]
Box: 2 Folder : 5 Socialist Workers Party Contents Include: Correspondence and Reports on Polish, German and Other International Issues - includes two letters (from/regarding) the Internationale Kommunisten Deutschlands (International Communist Party of Germany).
Box: 2 Folder : 6 The European Revolution and Tasks of the Revolutionary Party (45 pp) -- SWP National Committee Plenum Resolution
Aug 1944
Box: 2 Folder : 7 Trotsky, Natalia: Letter "Dear Friend" (the USSR no longer even a "degenerating" workers state), 2 pp.
Aug 16, 1944
Box: 2 Folder : 8 Cannon, James P.: Letters re Fight Against the Morrison/Morrow Faction (to Larry Trainor, Murry Weiss, and J. Andrews).
Mar 1945-Apr 1945
Box: 2 Folder : 9 Cochran [?]: Report (contra Felix Morrow, on the International Political Situation). 50 pp.
Box: 2 Folder : 10 Cochran: Speech re Labor Movement (hand-written)
May 1945
Box: 2 Folder : 11 Morrison, M.: Why We Support the Struggle of the EAM (Greece), 4 pp.
Box: 2 Folder : 12 Socialist Workers Party Correspondence (Includes: Cochran, Dobbs, Dunne)
Nov 1945-Dec 1945
Box: 2 Folder : 13 Socialist Workers Party DocumentsContents: Discussion on the Black Question, by Murray Weiss; Proposal on the Functioning of the 4th International; Motion by Morrow on Italian Affiliation.
Box: 2 Folder : 14 Socialist Workers Party Club Executive Minutes
Jan 1946-Apr 1946
Box: 2 Folder : 15 SWP correspondence (Felix Morrow, et al)
Feb 1946-Jun 1947
Box: 2 Folder : 16 Socialist Workers Party Club Executive Minutes (focus on Korea, Yugoslavia)
May 1950-Jul 1950
Box: 2 Folder : 17 Socialist Workers Party National Committee Reports and Resolutions on Korea, Yugoslavia (Includes report on a trip to Yugoslavia)
Box: 2 Folder : 18 Cochran Speech: The Revolution in Bolivia
Apr 24, 1953
Box: 2 Folder : 19 Cochran Speeches (2): U.S., International
Box: 2 Folder : 20 Cochran Speech: "What Is Going to Happen in the Next Ten Years?"
Box: 2 Folder : 21 Cocharn Speeches: American SocialistBanquet, Other
Box: 2 Folder : 22 Cochran Speeches: Detroit, Los Angeles, San-Francisco

Return to Top »

Series 2: Unpublished Writings.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 3 Folder : 1 Untitled Manuscript I (re Warfare in Human History), Ch. 7: Sword of Hellas, pp. 200-294
Box: 3 Folder : 2 Untitled Manuscript I (re Warfare in Human History), Ch. 10: Ancient and Medieval Thought on War, and Ch. 11 - Faith of the Enlightment, pp. 307-377
Box: 3 Folder : 3 Untitled Manuscript I (re Warfare in Human History), Ch. 12: The Return to Cults of Violence; Ch. 13: 19th Century Imperialism; Ch. 14: The Marxian Opposition, pp. 378-481
Box: 3 Folder : 4 Untitled Manuscript I (re Warfare in Human History), Ch. 15: Roosevelt, Mahan, and Wilson; Ch. 16: Race and Reform; and Ch. 17: Conflict and Cooperation, pp. 482-573
Box: 3 Folder : 5 Untitled Manuscript I (re Warfare in Human History), Ch. 18: Instinct and Civilization; and Ch. 19: Stages of Welfare, pp. 574-653.
Box: 3 Folder : 6 Untitled Manuscript II, Chapter 11: Workers and Intellectuals, pp. 521-556

Return to Top »

Series 3: Addendum

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 4 Folder : 1 Auto Workers: Draft Pamphlet and Noyes
Box: 4 Folder : 2 Communist League of America: Internal Bulletin
Box: 4 Folder : 3 Communist League of America: Internal Bulletin
Box: 4 Folder : 4 Correspondence: Cochran,Dobbs, Breitman, etc.
Box: 4 Folder : 5 Communist Party Plenum (Stenogram)
Jan 8, 1944
Box: 4 Folder : 6 Arnold Delbert and the CIO's Role in American Politics, 1936-1948
Box: 4 Folder : 7 Document on the Unification of All Unemployed Organizations
Box: 4 Folder : 8 Frank, E.R., Memorandum on Resolution on "The Evolution of the Buffer Countries"
Box: 4 Folder : 9 Labor Writings, Clippings, etc.
Box: 4 Folder : 10 Labor and the Multinationals, Cochran
Box: 4 Folder : 11 Minutes of the International Secretariat
Dec 15, 1932
Box: 4 Folder : 12 "Pabloist" Documents
Box: 4 Folder : 13 Report: Meeting of Fisher Body (Cleveland Division) and UAW, Local 18614, Employees Cooperative Assn. and Mechanics Educational Society of America
Box: 4 Folder : 14 Shannon, David: Outline for Book on History of CPUSA
Feb 24, 1955
Box: 4 Folder : 15 Speech
Box: 5 Folder : 1 Speech (Frank)
Box: 5 Folder : 2 Speech (Plenum)
Box: 5 Folder : 3 Untitled Ms. Chapter 12 In the Perspective of History
Box: 5 Folder : 4 Untitled Ms. Chapter 13, Variations on the Theme of Revolution
Box: 5 Folder : 5 Untitled Ms. Notes 14 Italian Risorgimento
Box: 5 Folder : 6 Workers Party of the US: Internal Bulletin, No.'s 1 and 2
1935, 1936
Box: 5 Folder : 7 Workers Party: International Bulletin
Box: 5 Folder : 8 Workers Party of the US: Minutes, National Committee Plenum
Oct 1955
Box: 5 Folder : 9 Workers Party of the US: NC Plenum, Resolutions
Jun 1935
Box: 5 Folder : 10 Weatherhead Company: Transcript of Hearing re: Labor Matters (Cleveland, OH)
Box: 5 Folder : 11 Photographs, reprints and originals: Labor and Communism #756

Return to Top »

Return to Top »