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Guide to the Norman Thomas Papers TAM.423

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
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10th Floor
New York, NY 10012
(212) 998-2630

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

Collection processed by Tamiment staff

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on February 20, 2019
Description is in English. using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Historical/Biographical Note

Norman Mattoon Thomas (1884–1968), was a leading American socialist, pacifist, author, and six-time presidential candidate on the Socialist Party of America ticket, between 1928 and 1948. Born in Marion, Ohio, he was a graduate of Princeton University, attended Union Theological Seminary, where he became a socialist, and was ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1911. Thomas opposed the United States' entry into the First World War, a position that earned him the disapproval of many in his socialist circle and in his church. He founded a magazine, The World Tomorrow, in 1918. In 1921-22 he was associate editor of  The Nation, and, also in 1922, he became co-director of the League for Industrial Democracy. He was later one of the founders of the National Civil Liberties Bureau (the precursor of the American Civil Liberties Union) and of the Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy. At first Thomas was outspoken in opposing the U.S. involvement in the Second World War, and he served on the board of the  America First Committee. However, once the United States was attacked by the Japanese, he supported U.S. war effort, while opposing the war-time internment of Japanese Americans. Thomas frequently spoke on the difference between democratic socialism and Communism; his early admiration for the Russian Revolution and later sympathy with Popular Front activity evolved into fervent anti-Communism. He wrote several books, among them his defense of World War I conscientious objectors,  Is Conscience a Crime? (1927) and  Socialism Re-examined (1963).


  • (August 22, 2008)