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Guide to the Michael Harrington Papers TAM.209

Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
New York, NY, 10012
(212) 998-2630

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive

Collection processed by Peter Filardo

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on April 26, 2016
Description is in English. using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

 Edited by Maggie Schreiner to reflect updated administrative information, 2014. Updated by Giana Ricci to reflect addition of audiovisual material found in repository.  , April 2016

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Harrington, Michael, 1928-1989
Title: Michael Harrington Papers
Dates [inclusive]: 1946-1990
Dates [bulk]: Bulk, 1960-1989
Abstract: Michael Harrington (1928-1989) was a U.S. socialist, editor, writer, founder and leader of Democratic Socialists of America (U.S. affiliate to the Socialist International), and political leader best known for his book The Other America: Poverty in the United States(1962). These papers include his notebooks, correspondence, and documentation of his various political and journalistic endeavors.
Quantity: 9.0 linear feet (11 boxes)
Call Phrase: TAM.209

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Historical/Biographical Note

Michael Harrington (1928-1989), a U.S. socialist writer and political leader, best known as the author of The Other America: Poverty in the United States(1962), and as the founder and leader of Democratic Socialists of America, the U.S. affiliate to the Socialist International, was born in St. Louis, received a Jesuit secondary education, graduated from Holy Cross College in 1947 and, after a brief interval at Yale Law School, received a MA degree in English from the University of Chicago in 1949, then moved to New York City.

From 1951-53 he was a volunteer at the radical Catholic Worker house on New York's Lower East Side, and was associate editor of its newspaper, also called the Catholic Worker. Leaving Catholicism, he first became organizational director of the Workers Defense League in 1953, joined the Socialist Party, and shortly became the leader of the SP's Young People's Socialist League. Coming under the influence of the (not quite yet) post-Trotskyist Max Shachtman, whose anti-Communism and grand political strategy, known as realignment (i.e., seeking to employ a leftist-influenced organized labor movement as the leading force in reorienting the Democratic Party towards socialism) became and remained in one form or another the cornerstones of Harrington's political outlook, Harrington led the New York YPSL into Shachtman's Independent Socialist League in 1954, and served as YPSL national chair until the 1958 dissolution of the ISL and its members' return to the Socialist Party, and from 1960-62 edited  New America, the SP paper.

From 1954 through 1962, Harrington worked as a researcher for the Fund for the Republic, notably on its study of blacklisting in the film industry, and wrote for liberal and left journals of opinion such as Dissent. A 1957  Commentaryarticle on poverty grew into  The Other America, which made Harrington a national figure, and which was widely credited with influencing the development of the so-called War on Poverty and related local programs during the Kennedy and Johnson presidencies. The  Port Huron Statement, also published in 1962 by the Students for a Democratic Society, originally a project of the SP-associated League for Industrial Democracy, for whom Harrington served as liaison to SDS (he would become LID head in 1964), was sharply criticized by Harrington for being insufficiently anti-Communist. This marked the beginning of a decade of often sharp disagreement with the New Left, most importantly on the related issue of the Vietnam War. While Harrington's Realignment Caucus within the SP (he was elected SP chair in 1968) opposed the war, it did not support unconditional withdrawal. In 1971 Harrington formed the Coalition Caucus, which backed the 1972 presidential candidacy of George McGovern in opposition to the pro-war SP majority, then left the SP to found (in February 1973) the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee, which merged, in 1982, with the New American Movement, an organization of New Left veterans, to form the Democratic Socialists of America.

In 1972 Harrington became a professor of political science at Queens College in New York City, played a leading role during the 1980s in the drafting of the Socialist International's New Declaration of Principles, and continued to write, lecture and travel widely until his death from cancer in 1989. Among his many books were two autobiographical works, Taking Sides: The Education of a Militant Mind(1985) and  The Long-Distance Runner : An Autobiography(1987),  The New American Poverty(1984),  The Politics at God's Funeral: The Spiritual Crisis of Western Civilization(1985), and  Socialism : Past and Future(1989). See also the selected bibliography, below, preceding the box and folder list.

Selected Bibliography

1959:  Labor in a Free Society(Berkeley, University of California Press), 186 p.

1960:  Democracy and Public Review : An Analysis of the UAW Public Review Board/ by Jack Stieber, Walter E. Obrerer, Michael Harrington (Santa Barbara, CA : Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions), 64 p.

1962:  The Other America: Poverty in the United States(New York, Macmillan), 191 p.

1962:  The Retail Clerks(New York, Wiley), 99 p.

1965:  The Accidental Century(New York : Macmillan), 322 p.

1967:  American Power in the Twentieth Century(New York : League for Industrial Democracy), 55 p.

1968:  Toward a Democratic Left: A Radical Program for a New Majority(New York, Macmillan), 314 p.

1972:  Socialism(New York, Saturday Review Press), 436 p.

1972:  The Seventies : Problems and Proposals/ edited by Irving Howe and Michael Harrington (New York : Harper & Row), 519 p.

1973:  Fragments of the Century(New York, Saturday Review Press), 246 p.

1976:  The Twilight of Capitalism(New York : Simon and Schuster), 446 p.

1977:  The Vast Majority: A Journey to the World's Poor(New York : Simon and Schuster), 281 p.

1980:  Decade of Decision : The Crisis of the American System(New York : Simon and Schuster), 354 p.

1981:  The Next America : The Decline and Rise of the United States(New York : Holt, Rinehart, and Winston), 154 p.

1981:  Unfinished Democracy : The American Political System/ Harrell R. Rodgers, Jr., Michael Harrington (Glenview, Ill. : Scott, Foresman, 1981), 625 p.

1984:  The New American Poverty(New York : Holt, Rinehart, and Winston), 271 p.

1985:  The Politics at God's Funeral : The Spiritual Crisis of Western Civilization(New York, N.Y., U.S.A. : Penguin Books), 308 p.

1985:  Taking Sides : The Education of a Militant Mind(New York : Holt, Rinehart, and Winston), 278 p.

1987:  The Next Left : The History of a Future(New York : H. Holt), 197 p.

1988:  The Long-Distance Runner : An Autobiography(New York : Holt), 260 p.

1989:  Socialism : Past and Future(New York : Arcade), 320 p.

See also: Isserman, Maurice,  The Other American : The Life of Michael Harrington(New York : Public Affairs, 2000), 449 p.

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Scope and Content Note

The notebooks (which are undated) are arranged alphabetically. They comprise more than three-fourths of the collection, and contain Harrington's handwritten notes on his readings from the 1960s through the 1980s, principally of the works of Marx, Hegel, Continental and ancient Greek philosophy, current economic and social conditions, political economy, political theory, theology, and American and European literature. Harrington read works in their original languages, and the sometimes multi-lingual notes reflect Harrington's facility with French, German, Greek and Latin. About one-third of the often multi-volume notebooks are labeled with abbreviated titles for several of Harrington's published books, notably Toward a Democratic Left(1968),  Twilight of Capitalism(1976), and  Decade of Decision(1980), while the remainder are labeled with broad topical terms or the names of prominent authors. Of interest for Harrington's early years in New York are the notebooks titled "Me - Boheme," and "Village."

Series two, arranged alphabetically by topic, contains typescripts for unpublished and published articles, book reviews, lectures, speeches, and for a debate with Carl Gershman; three audio recordings of lectures on Marxism; typescripts for The New American Poverty (1984) and  Socialism, Past and Future (partial, 1989); three oral history interview transcripts (1965, 1988); documents from and unpublished Harrington reports on several Socialist International leadership meetings, including one discussing the Palestine Liberation Organization (1979); additional reading notes; publishing and miscellaneous correspondence; clippings; materials relating to Harrington's teaching career; U.S. Senate testimony (1987); and an invitation to the funeral of Robert F. Kennedy.


Organized into three series: I. Reading Notebooks; II. Writings, Correspondence, & Other Activities; III. Addendum (Reading Notebooks)

Folders are arranged alphabetically within each series.

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Gershman, Carl.
  • Harrington, Michael, 1928-1989

Document Type

  • Correspondence.
  • Notebooks.
  • Typescripts.

Subject Organizations

  • Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee (U.S.).
  • Democratic Socialists of America.
  • Munazzamat al-Tahrir al-Filastiniyah.
  • Socialist International (1951- ).

Subject Topics

  • Socialists -- United States.

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Administrative Information

Audiovisual Access Policies and Procedures

Researchers interested in using audiovisual materials in this collection (films, cassette tapes, VHS tapes, et cetera) must use a digitized copy, which we refer to as an access copy. Researchers may view an item’s original container, but the media themselves are not available for playback because of preservation concerns. Materials that have already been digitized are noted in the collection’s finding aid and can be requested in our reading room; materials not yet digitized will need to have access copies made before they can be used. These requests are free of charge and can be made in anticipation of your visit. The process typically takes four to six weeks. To request an access copy, or if you are unsure if an item has been digitized, please contact tamiment.wagner@nyu.edu with the collection name, collection number, and a description of the item(s) requested. A librarian will respond to you with further information.

Use Restrictions

Copyright (and related rights to publicity and privacy) to material in this collection created by Michael Harrington are held by Stephanie Harrington. Permission to publish or reproduce materials to which she holds copright must be secured from the copyright holder. Please contact the Tamiment Library for assistance with contacting Stephanie Harrington.

Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date; Michael Harrington Papers; TAM 209; 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

Democratic Socialists of America Records (TAM 105)

Democratic Socialists of America Audiocassettes (OH 058)

Michael Harrington - DSA Audiotapes (OH 048)

Maurice Isserman Research Files for The Other American: The Life of Michael Harrington (TAM 239)

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

Gift of Stephanie Harrington in 1998. The accession number associated with this gift is 1999.004.

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Container List

Series I. Notebooks

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 Agency France Presse (3 books)
Box: 1 Folder : 2 CAP Forum Debate
Box: 1 Folder : 3 DEC Decade of Decision(11 books)
Box: 1 Folder : 4 EVR "70
Box: 1 Folder : 5 Greek Language Notebooks (4 books)
Box: 1 Folder : 6 Henri Saint Simon (2 books)
Box: 1 Folder : 7 Iliad
Box: 1 Folder : 8 India (2 books)
Box: 1 Folder : 9 LH3 Intro
Box: 1 Folder : 10 Lukacs, Gyorgy (3 books)
Box: 2 Folder : 1 Marx, Karl (early)
Box: 2 Folder : 2 Marx (19 books)
Box: 2 Folder : 3 Marx Das Kapital(11 books)
Box: 3 Folder : 1 Me: Boheme
Box: 3 Folder : 2 Me I: Village, SDS, ED of MH
Box: 3 Folder : 3 Misc. (2 books)
Box: 3 Folder : 4 Neo-Con (2 books)
Box: 3 Folder : 5 Notes of a LDR [ Long Distance Runner]
Box: 3 Folder : 6 "OAR"
Box: 3 Folder : 7 Philosophy Section 1 (16 books)
Box: 3 Folder : 8 Philosophy Section 2 (2 books)
Box: 4 Folder : 1 Philosophy Section 3 (7 books)
Box: 4 Folder : 2 Philosophy Section 4 (4 books)
Box: 4 Folder : 3 Philosophy Section 5 (2 books)
Box: 4 Folder : 4 Philosophy Section 6 (Untitled Misc.) (2 books)
Box: 4 Folder : 5 "Playing Delta"
Box: 4 Folder : 6 SOC ["Socialism?"] (11 books)
Box: 5 Folder : 1 Soc Crisis ["Crisis of Socialism?"] (8 books)
Box: 5 Folder : 2 Soc Hist (3 books)
Box: 5 Folder : 3 Soc Int"l
Box: 5 Folder : 4 TDL [ Toward a Democratic Left] (12 of 13 books)
Box: 6 Folder : 1 TW [ Twilight of Capitalism] (6 of 7 books)
Box: 6 Folder : 2 TWC [ Twilight of Capitalism]
Box: 6 Folder : 3 USS ("US Socialism") (3 books)
Box: 6 Folder : 4 Untitled Misc. (3 books)
Box: 6 Folder : 5 Untitled (Theology)
Box: 6 Folder : 6 WC [Working Class]
Box: 6 Folder : 7 "Whither A." (Loose)
Box: 6 Folder : 8 Legal Sized Notebooks (3 large notebooks)

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Series II: Writings & Other Activities

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 7 Folder : 1 Against Unemployment (Talk, Dublin 24 pp)
Jan 1, 1989
Box: 7 Folder : 2 Book Review: Marx"s Social Critique of Culture,by Louis Dupre
Box: 7 Folder : 3 City University of New York (CUNY)
Box: 7 Folder : 4 Clippings re Michael Harrington
1964 , 1977 , 1988
Box: 7 Folder : 5 "Conservative Trend" Untitled Lecture - Typescript 13pp
Box: 7 Folder : 6 Correspondence
1948 , 1957-1958 , 1976-1991
Box: 7 Folder : 7 Correspondence: Guggenheim Foundation
Box: 7 Folder : 8 Correspondence: Publishers
1970 , 1982-1989
Box: 7 Folder : 9 Correspondence: Simon and Schuster, Inc.
Box: 7 Folder : 10 "Crisis of Collective Bargaining" (Untitled typescript 36pp and notes)
Box: 7 Folder : 11 "Danger from the Right" (Untitled book-length typescript)
Box: 7 Folder : 12 Economic Article or Pamphlet for Irving (not Howe)
Box: 7 Folder : 13 The Economic Opportunity Act (Address 31pp)
Box: 7 Folder : 14 Future Present (Typescript 36pp)
Box: 7 Folder : 15 Gershman, Carl: Confidential Memorandum re: Socialist International Bureau Meeting 15-16 Oct. 1977
Box: 7 Folder : 16 Gershman, Carl: Debate with Michael Harrington (CG Presentation)
Box: 7 Folder : 17 Harrington, Michael: Interview with John Cogley, by Hela Kaufman at the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions (15pp)
Box: 7 Folder : 18 Harrington, Michael: Oral History Telephone Interview Typescript, 35pp (William Chafe, Interviewer)
Nov 26, 1988
Box: 7 Folder : 19 Harrington, Michael: Untitled Lecture (re: Justice) Transcript 22pp
Sep 20, 1979
Box: 7 Folder : 20 Hegel: Notes
Box: 7 Folder : 21 Hegel: Philosophy of Right, Typed Notes
Box: 7 Folder : 22 Holy Cross College: The Tomahawk(student newspaper)
Box: 7 Folder : 23 The Individualistic Welfare State
Box: 7 Folder : 24 Isserman, Maurice: "Michael Harrington: Another American" (Paper given at Harvard - Incomplete Typescript)
Oct 15, 1993
Box: 7 Folder : 25 Kennedy, Robert F.: Funeral Invitation
Jun 1, 1968
Box: 7 Folder : 26 Labor Movement - Typed Notes
Box: 7 Folder : 27 Larkin, James: Memorial Lecture
Jan 27, 1989
Box: 7 Folder : 28 League for Industrial Democracy: Untitled Talk by MH (Transcript 48pp)
Box: 7 Folder : 29 "The Magnificent Decadence:" (Unpublished Typescript)
Box: 7 Folder : 30 "Michael Harrington Lecture" (at OSU - Oxford Student Union - Transcript 47 pp)
Box: 7 Folder : 31 New American PovertyUntitled Book-length Typescript
Box: 7 Folder : 32 New Poverty in America - Typed Notes
Box: 7 Folder : 33 The Perils of a Dead Economy (Published Article: pp 417-426)
Box: 7 Folder : 34 Philosophy: Typed Notes, Misc.
Box: 7 Folder : 35 Political Theory Typed Notes (The "Classics")
Box: 7 Folder : 36 Poverty - Typed Notes
Box: 7 Folder : 37 Religion - Typed Notes
Box: 7 Folder : 38 "Soc Crisis" Typed Notes (re: Luxemburg and Trotsky)
Box: 7 Folder : 39 Socialism Past and Future: Chapter Four; The End of Socialism
Box: 7 Folder : 40 Socialism Past and Future: Introduction by Arthur Lipow - Typescript
Box: 7 Folder : 41 Socialism Past and FutureReviews
1965 , 1989-1990
Box: 7 Folder : 42 Socialist International and PLO, Talk on
Box: 7 Folder : 43 Socialist International Bureau Meeting, Lisbon
Oct 30, 1979-Oct 31, 1979
Box: 7 Folder : 44 Socialist International: Untitled Typescript on February Leader's Conference, Vienna
Box: 8 Folder : 1 Structures of Misery: The New American Poverty(Typescript)
Box: 8 Folder : 2 U.S. Senate, Testimony
Jan 13, 1987
Box: 8 Folder : 3 Voices from the Catholic Worker(1993) MH Interview Transcript
Jul 7, 1988
Box: 8 Folder : 4 Washington, D.C. Protest March: Untitled Speech for
Box: 8 Folder : 5 "We are Socialists" Typescript
undated , 1980-1981
Box: 8 Folder : 6 "The Working People of North America" Typescript
Box: 8 Folder : 7 "Working People of North America," The Beginnings
Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 11 Reel : 2 Marxism III "The Communist Manifesto" New York City Y.P.S.L. Parts 1-3
1969 March 16
Box: 11 Reel : 3
Box: 11 Reel : 1
Box: 11 Reel : 4 Marxism IV "Political Perspectives" New York City Y.P.S.L. Parts 1-3
1969 March 9 and 1969 March 23
Box: 11 Reel : 6
Box: 11 Reel : 5

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Series III. Addendum: Reading Notebooks

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 9 Folder : 1 Accidental Century(10 books)
Box: 9 Folder : 2 Decadence (book II)
Box: 9 Folder : 3 Europe
Box: 9 Folder : 4 FP
Box: 9 Folder : 5 Hegel - Dialectics/Logic (2 books)
Box: 9 Folder : 6 Marx (Books I, II, III)
Box: 9 Folder : 7 Marx (Books I, II, III, VII, XII, XVII)
Box: 9 Folder : 8 Marx: Misc. Texts (Books I, II, III)
Box: 9 Folder : 9 Miscellaneous (2 books)
Box: 9 Folder : 10 Oil
Box: 10 Folder : 1 Twilight of Capitalism(9 books)

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