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Guide to the Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives Video Oral History Collection VIDEOS.018

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 Heather Mulliner

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on February 19, 2020
Finding aid is in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

 Finding aid was updated by Nic Caldwell for compliance with DACS and ACM Required Elements for Archival Description. 2019

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
Creator - ivr: Baxandall, Rosalyn Fraad, 1939-
Creator - ivr: Naftali, Timothy J.
Creator - ivr: Koncewicz, Michael
Creator - ivr: Altman, Anita
Title: Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives Video Oral History Collection
Dates [inclusive]: 2014-2015
Abstract: The Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Video Oral History Collection (dated 2011-2015) is an assembled collection of video oral histories created and collected by the Tamiment Library to document the experiences of prominent individuals in on the political left. The collection features interviews with notable activists and political leaders including Daniel Rubin, Bettina Aptheker, Leslie Cagan, and Jack O'Dell. Interviews address a wide array of topics including civil rights, the Communist Party of the United States, gay rights, community organizing, and labor unions.
Quantity: 689.85 Gigabytes on 106 video files
Quantity: .25 Linear Feet in 1 half manuscript box
Language: Materials are in English
Call Phrase: VIDEOS.018

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Historical Note

The Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives Video Oral History collection is an assembled collection created by the Tamiment Library. Oral histories in this collection were created in the 2010s to document stories about the lives of individuals involved in social activism on the political left. Individuals featured in these interviews were selected by the Tamiment Library because they either had long careers in communist and socialist political activity or were connected to significant moments in the history of the Cold War.

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Scope and Content Note

The Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Video Oral History Collection (dated 2011-2015) is an assembled collection of video oral histories created and collected by the Tamiment Library to document the experiences of prominent individuals in on the political left. The collection features interviews with notable activists and political leaders including Daniel Rubin, Bettina Aptheker, Leslie Cagan, and Jack O'Dell. Interviews address a wide array of topics including civil rights, the Communist Party of the United States, gay rights, community organizing, and labor unions.

Arrangement

Interviews are arranged alphabetically by interviewee last name.

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Aptheker, Bettina
  • Cagan, Leslie
  • Hobson, Timothy
  • O'Brien, Frances Seidman
  • O'Dell, Jack (Jack H.)
  • Rubin, Daniel, 1931-2015
  • Hiss, Alger

Document Type

  • Oral histories (document genres)

Subject Topics

  • Communism -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • Socialism -- United States -- History.
  • African Americans -- Civil rights -- United States.
  • Women -- Political activity -- United States.
  • Gay rights -- United States.
  • Community activists.

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Administrative Information

Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restrictions. Advance notice is required to access born-digital materials.

Conditions Governing Use

Because of the assembled nature of this collection, copyright status varies across the collection. Copyright is assumed to be held by the original creator of individual items in the collection; these items are expected to pass into the public domain 120 years after their creation. Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Archives is not authorized to grant permission to publish or reproduce materials from this collection.

Preferred Citation

Identification of item, date; Tamiment Library Video Oral History Collection; VIDEOS 018; box number; folder number; Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, New York University.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

An access terminal for born-digital materials in the collection is available by appointment for reading room viewing and listening only. Researchers may view an item's original container and/or carrier, but the physical carriers themselves are not available for use because of preservation concerns.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was assembled by the Tamiment Library beginning in 2014. Many interviews were conducted by Tamiment Library staff. The accession numbers associated with these interviews are 2015.014, 2015.023, and 2015.041. Anita Altman donated an interview of Frances O'Brien in 2014, which was added to the collection in 2017. The accession number associated with this gift is 2014.182.

Processing Information

In 2017 an interview featuring Frances O'Brien was added to the collection. At this time, a finding aid was created to describe the remainder of the collection. Interviews in this collection are saved in multiple segments. These segments have been described in aggregate by oral history subject.

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Container List

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: Electronic Records Folder : TW_VID_18_ER_1 Bettina Aptheker Interview

Aptheker, Bettina Interview   https://aeon.library.nyu.edu/Logon?Action=10&Form=31&Value= http://dlib.nyu.edu/findingaids/ead/tamwag/videos_018.xml&view=xml

Scope and Contents

This oral history with Bettina Aptheker was conducted by Timothy Naftali on March 27, 2015. The oral history runs approximately 140 minutes. The interview covers Aptheker's experience in the Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA) including her participation in the DuBois Clubs, and on the party's National Committee. She recounts her opposition of the party leaders, including her father Herbert Aptheker, at the 1968 Communist Party convention over the Soviet Union's invasion of Czechoslovakia. She also discusses her sexuality, coming out as a lesbian in the 1970s, and homophobia in the Communist Party. Other topics she addresses include the Vietnam War, civil rights, the Black Panthers, Angela Davis, and the FBI's covert program COINTELPRO.

2015 March 27
Box: Electronic Records Folder : TW_VID_18_ER_2 Leslie Cagan Interviews

Cagan, Leslie Interviews: 2014-11-17-2015-02-09   https://aeon.library.nyu.edu/Logon?Action=10&Form=31&Value= http://dlib.nyu.edu/findingaids/ead/tamwag/videos_018.xml&view=xml

Scope and Contents

This oral history with Leslie Cagan was conducted by Rosalyn Baxandall and Michael Koncewicz in three separate interviews recorded between November 2014 and February 2015 at New York University's King Juan Carlos Center in New York City. The oral history runs approximately 340 minutes. Cagan discusses the influence of family on her activism and how she became involved in organizing as a student at New York University (NYU). She discusses her work as an organizer for social justice marches and demonstrations, her involvement with anti-war groups like Mobilization for Survival and for LGBT rights, and her work with politicians like David Dinkins and Bill de Blasio. She also discusses her involvement in anti-war activism, and the differences between the movement before and after the 2001 September 11th terrorist attacks.

2014 November 17 - 2015 February 9
Box: Electronic Records Folder : TW_VID_18_ER_3 Timothy Hobson Interview

Hobson, Timothy Interview: 2014-05-08-   https://aeon.library.nyu.edu/Logon?Action=10&Form=31&Value= http://dlib.nyu.edu/findingaids/ead/tamwag/videos_018.xml&view=xml

Scope and Contents

This oral history with Timothy Hobson was conducted by Timothy Naftali on May 8, 2014 at New York University's King Juan Carlos Center in New York City. The oral history runs approximately 180 minutes. The interview covers the espionage allegations against Hobson's stepfather Alger Hiss. Hobson discusses the allegations made by ex-Communist Whittaker Chambers and his claims about being close with the Hiss family. Hobson describes his personal memories of Chambers and his family, and the Hiss defense team's decision not to call Hobson to the stand as a witness in his stepfather's perjury trials. Hobson also discusses the "undesirable" discharge he received from the U.S. Navy for admitting he was gay, and the effects of that discharge later in his life.

2014 May 8
Box: 1 Folder : 1 Frances Seidman O'Brien Biographical File
1980-2000
Box: Electronic Records Folder : TW_VID_18_ER_4 Frances Seidman O'Brien Interview

O'Brien, Frances Seidman Interview: 2011-   https://aeon.library.nyu.edu/Logon?Action=10&Form=31&Value= http://dlib.nyu.edu/findingaids/ead/tamwag/videos_018.xml&view=xml

Scope and Contents

This oral history with Frances Seidman O'Brien was conducted by Anita Altman in 2011 at an unknown location. The oral history runs approximately 90 minutes, and covers O'Brien's political activism in youth organizations and her involvement in community and affordable housing activism. She discusses her life growing up in New York City, and her parents' experience as Eastern European immigrants. She recounts living in Mexico while her husband Vaughn Thomas O'Brien volunteered as a bodyguard for Leon Trotsky during his exile. The bulk of the interview focuses on O'Brien's activist work in New York including her work for the Spanish Refugee Aid, where she served on the board, on local school and community boards, and organizing for affordable housing.

2011
Box: Electronic Records Folder : TW_VID_18_ER_5 Hunter Pitts "Jack" O'Dell Interview

O'Dell, Hunter Pitts "Jack" Interview: 2015-06-19-   https://aeon.library.nyu.edu/Logon?Action=10&Form=31&Value= http://dlib.nyu.edu/findingaids/ead/tamwag/videos_018.xml&view=xml

Scope and Contents

This oral history with Hunter Pitts "Jack" O'Dell was conducted by Timothy Naftali on June 19, 2015 in Vancouver, British Columbia. The oral history runs approximately 215 minutes. O'Dell begins the interview by discussing his experience in the Merchant Marines and his work as a union organizer in the National Maritime Union. He discusses joining the Communist Party, and although he was only a member for 7 years, he describes individuals like James Jackson as highly influential to his political beliefs. He describes his work with Freedomways and the relationship between the Southern Negro Youth Congress (SNYC) and the Communist Party. O'Dell also recounts his work for the New York office of the Southern Christian Leadership Congress (SCLC), working with Martin Luther King Jr., and eventually leaving the organization because of backlash related to his affiliation to the Communist Party. At the end of the interview he discusses his work with Reverend Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow Coalition.

2015 June 19
Box: Electronic Records Folder : TW_VID_18_ER_6 Daniel Rubin Interview

Rubin, Daniel Interview: 2014-09-05-   https://aeon.library.nyu.edu/Logon?Action=10&Form=31&Value= http://dlib.nyu.edu/findingaids/ead/tamwag/videos_018.xml&view=xml

Scope and Contents

This oral history with Daniel Rubin was conducted by Timothy Naftali on September 5, 2014 at Hobson's home in Brooklyn, New York. The oral history runs approximately 180 minutes. The interview covers Rubin's involvement in the Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA). He recounts his earliest political memories and the influences that drew him to Marxism and socialism, and describes his work with communist youth organizations like the DuBois Clubs and the socialist youth publication New Horizons. Rubin discusses organizing for African American civil rights and describes his involvement in the Freedom Rides and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) youth leadership. At the end of the interview he discusses the split of the Communist Party in 1991.

2014 September 5

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