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Guide to the Charles Allan Madison Papers TAM 133

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
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Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

Collection processed by Olga K. Heisler, 1987

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on April 18, 2018
Description is in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Historical/Biographical Note

Charles Allan Madison (1895-1985), was a publishing executive and author of several books on labor, liberal and progressive leaders, and on publishing history and Jewish topics. He was born April 16, l895, in Kiev, Russia, the son of David (a tailor) and Bessie (Burakovsky) Madison. He emigrated to the United States with his family in 1906 and settled in Detroit Michigan where they joined his sister who had arrived a year previous with her husband and his parents. Madison was educated in the Detroit public schools. He attended the University of Michigan by working his way through and received his BA degree in 1921. A year of graduate study at Harvard University earned him an MA in comparative literature in 1922. He then moved to New York City to begin his long career as an editor, first with American Book Company 1922-1924, and then with Henry Holt and Company. He remained with Holt for 38 years and retired in 1962. He married Edith Hellman, an artist on July 1, l924, and they had one child, a daughter Jepitha "Jeppy" (Mrs Leonard Yarensky).

Madison began writing verse at the age of eighteen and continued to write and publish even while working as an editor. He contributed many literary and historical essays, and book reviews to various publications on a regular basis: Poet Lore;  American Scholar;  The Nation;  Saturday Review;  Yale Review;  Chicago Jewish Forumand others. In 1934 he was invited to attend Yaddo a colony for writers and artists in Saratoga Springs, New York. It was possibly here he met and developed a lasting friendship with the authors James T. Farrell and Evelyn Scott.

His early interest was in Yiddish literature and he published several articles on the subject. But by the 1940's his interests turned to the liberal movement in America. His first book, Critics and Crusaders: A Century of American Protest(Henry Holt, 1947) received favorable notices. Portions or chapters of the book had actually been first published as historical articles in various journals. The format of the book was basically a series of 21 selected short biographies of abolitionists, utopians, anarchists, dissident economists, militant liberals, socialists and "intransigent New Dealers." This book was followed by two more works on similar subjects:  American Labor Leaders(Harper, 1950), and  Leaders and Liberals in 20th Century America(Ungar, 1961).

After his retirement in 1962 as editor at Holt Publishing, Madison wrote four books about the history of publishing and/or on Jewish topics. They were: Yiddish Literature(Ungar, 1968),  Eminent American Jews(Ungar, 1971),  Irving to Irving : Author-Publisher Relations(Bowker, 1974), and  Jewish publishing in America : the impact of Jewish writing on American culture(Sanhedrin, 1976). He also wrote two autobiographical manuscripts. Madison died February 2nd, 1985 two months short of his 90th birthday.


  • 1921: First article published in Poet Lore.
  • 1922-24: First job: assistant editor with American Book Co.; published several articles on Judaic subjects in Poet Lore,  The Nation, etc.
  • 1924: Marries Edith Hellman, artist. Becomes editor at Henry Holt Publishing. Important advancement.
  • 1933: Invited to attend Yaddo in summer. Meets James T. Farrell and Evelyn Scott (Metcalf).
  • 1940-46: Published several articles which are later to be chapters in his first book.
  • 1947: First book published: Critics and Crusaders: a Century of American ProtestHolt.
  • 1949: Several articles published on labor leaders
  • 1950: Book published: American Labor LeadersHarpers.
  • 1954-57: Articles in The Nation : American liberal, radicals.
  • 1959: 2nd edition : Critics and Crusaders. Ungar.
  • 1961: Book: Leaders ans Liberals in 20th Century America, Ungar.
  • 1962: Retires as editor of College and Textbook Divison at Holt Publishing. Book: 2nd edition: American Labor Leaders.
  • 1963: Articles on book publishing.
  • 1966: Books: Book Publishing in AmericaMcGraw ;The Owl Among the Colophons Holt
  • 1968: Book: Yiddish Literaure: Its Scope and Major Writers, Ungar
  • 1970: Book: Eminent American Jews. Ungar.
  • 1974: Book: Irving to Irving: Author-Publisher Relations, Bowker.
  • 1976: Last book published: Jewish Publishing in America: The Impact of Jewish Writing on American Culture, Sanhedrin.