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Series VIII. Ethnic Radicalism

Scope and Content Notes:

Immigrant radicals carried left wing politics to the U.S. in their cultural baggage. They settled in American ethnic communities and continuing organizing and agitating, gaining traction among fellow ethnics for two reasons. First, many immigrants still followed old country politics both for emotional reasons and because they frequently intended to return home after a sojourn in America. Especially for immigrants from countries where the Left expanded rapidly in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the strength of left-wing organizations in their homelands gave left-wing politics credibility despite the weaknesses of the Left in the U.S. Second, ethnic discrimination and deplorable living and working conditions disillusioned and radicalized some immigrant who had come to the U.S. with grandiose expectations of their prospects in Golden America.

Ethnic radicals maintained cultural influence and organizational stability by creating and controlling three types of institutions: newspapers, ethnic sections of left-wing parties, and fraternal and mutual insurance societies. Left-wing newspapers and magazines published in immigrants’ native languages often had readerships many times larger than ethnic party memberships or voting totals. Ethnic restaurants, bars, breweries, shops, funeral parlors advertised in their pages. Clubs announced their meetings. Newspaper offices functioned as focis of political activity. Hundreds of such publication supported the SPUSA, the CPUSA, and the anarchist movement. Socialist Party locals and later Communist locals in ethnic neighborhoods frequently included a preponderance of members from a non-English speaking ethnic group and conducted local business in that language. The Socialist Party recognized and accommodated this tendency by allowing these ethnically based locals to amalgamate into national foreign language federations within the Socialist Party. The foreign language federations gradually increased their influence within the SPUSA, especially after the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution inspired many Eastern European immigrants. Some of them, most notably the Finnish Socialist Federation, went over to the incipient American Communist movement almost en masse. Indeed, the Finns represented 40% of the CP’s membership in 1924 and its most dependable base of financial support. In the late 1920s, however, as part of the policy of Bolshevization of the CPUSA (e.g. Stalinization), the Party disbanded much of its ethnically based organizational apparatus.

Ethnic radicalism continued to flourish within the Communist orbit, especially during the Popular Front period within the traditional third leg of ethnic radicalism: fraternal and mutual insurance associations. Ethnic fraternal and mutual insurance associations offered secular alternatives to church-based ethnic community activities and sold cheap insurance benefits to working-class families who could not afford the premiums of conventional commercial insurance. Leftist exercised a disproportionate influence in ethnic fraternal life in many nationalities (e.g. Finns, Eastern European, Jews, Croatians, Slovaks). Among the most successful was the Jewish Arbeiter Ring (Workmen’s Circle). In 1929 Communists within the AR, in keeping with sectarian Third Period Comintern policies split off to form an explicitly Communist and revolutionary alternative, the IWO, International Workers Order. The IWO began with probably less than 5,000 members but expanded rapidly during the Popular Front period reaching a peak membership of over 200,000 in the mid-1940s and expanding its ethnic representation to many other nationalities beyond the original Jewish base.


Box 4
Folder 170 Tyomiehen Joulu, XX, 1922
Folder 171 Tyomiehen Joulu, XXI
Folder 172 Tyomiehen Joulu XXII, 1924

Box 5
Folder 1 Tyomiehen Joulu, XXVII, 1929
Folder 2 Magyarok Amerikaban, 1951
Folder 3 "Foreign-Born Americans and the War"
Folder 4 "Our Badge of Infamy, A Petition to the United Nations on The Treatment of the Mexican Immigrant", April, 1959
Folder 5 "The Chicanos", 1973
Folder 6 "1944...Crucial Year, The Need of Dynamic Unity in the Immigrant Groups, Two Addresses by Louis Adamic"
Folder 7 "The Reapers, A Colorful Social Drama, By Siskind Liev"
Folder 8 Pamphlet Written in Yiddish 1950
Folder 9 "The Jewish Fraternalist, Jewish Peoples Fraternal Order Celebrates 20th Anniversary", February-March, 1950
Folder 10 Book Written in Yiddish, 1910
Folder 11 Book Written in Yiddish, 1934
Folder 12 Book Written in Yiddish, (25th Anniversary Publication)
Folder 13 "The Town Hall" Program, 1971
Folder 14 Roots of Jewish Nonviolence
Folder 15 "Yiddish Short Stories", 1923
Folder 16 Ahjo (The Forge), Tieteellis-kaunokirjallinen Julkaisu, September, 1918
Folder 17 Fraternal Outlook, Official Organ of the International Workers Order, January, 1939
Folder 17a Fraternal Outlook, Official Organ of the International Workers Order, March, 1939
Folder 18 Fraternal Outlook, Official Organ of the International Workers Order, May, 1939
Folder 19 Fraternal Outlook, Official Organ of the International Workers Order, July, 1941
Folder 20 Fraternal Outlook, Official Organ of the International Workers Order, November, 1941
Folder 21 International Workers Order Membership Aid 1 Cent Stamps (6)
Folder 22 Vappu, 1924
Folder 23 Vappu, 1926
Folder 24 Vappu, 1927
Folder 25 Vappu, 1928
Folder 26 Jewish Currents, April, 1995
Folder 27 Jewish Currents, May, 1995
Folder 28 Jewish Currents, July-August, 1995
Folder 29 Jewish Currents, October, 1995
Folder 30 Jewish Currents, November, 1995
Folder 31 Jewish Currents, December, 1995
Folder 32 Jewish Currents, May, 1996
Folder 33 Jewish Currents, December, 1996
Folder 34 Jewish Currents, January, 1997
Folder 35 Jewish Currents, February, 1997
Folder 36 Jewish Currents, March, 1997
Folder 37 Jewish Currents, April, 1997
Folder 38 Jewish Currents, May, 1997
Folder 39 Jewish Currents, July-August, 1997
Folder 40 Jewish Currents, October, 1996
Folder 41 Jewish Currents, November, 1997
Folder 42 Jewish Currents, December, 1997
Folder 43 Jewish Currents, January, 1998
Folder 44 Jewish Currents, February, 1998
Folder 45 Jewish Currents, June, 1999
Folder 46 Jewish Currents, December, 1999
Folder 47 Jewish Currents, February, 2000
Folder 48 Jewish Currents, March, 2000
Folder 49 Jewish Currents, April, 2000
Folder 50 Jewish Currents, May, 2000
Folder 51 Jewish Currents, June, 2000
Folder 52 Jewish Currents, July-August, 2000
Folder 53 Jewish Currents, November, 2000
Folder 54 Jewish Currents, December, 2000
Folder 55 Jewish Currents, January, 2001
Folder 56 Jewish Currents, February, 2001
Folder 57 Jewish Currents, March, 2001
Folder 58 Jewish Currents, July-August, 2001
Folder 59 Jewish Currents, May-June, 2002
Folder 60 Jewish Currents, July-August, 2002
Folder 61 Jewish Currents, November-December, 2002
Folder 62 Jewish Currents, January-February, 2003
Folder 63 Jewish Currents, March-April, 2003
Folder 64 Jewish Currents, July-August, 2005
Folder 65 Jewish Currents, November-December, 2005
Folder 66 Jewish Currents, Janurary-February, 2007
Folder 67 Jewish Currents, March-April, 2007
Folder 68 Jewish Currents, September-October, 2007
Folder 69 Jewish Currents, November-December, 2007
Folder 70 Jewish Currents, January-February, 2008
Folder 71 Jewish Currents, March-April, 2008
Folder 72 Slavic Americans in the fight for Victory and Peace, By George Pirinsky, March, 1946
Folder 73 Struggle, Louis Adamic, 1935
Folder 74 Are We Aryans?, By Gino Bardi, May, 1939
Folder 75 Program for Survival , The Communist Position on the Jewish Question, By Alexander Bittelman
Folder 76 Crisis in Palestine, By Moses Miller, September, 1946
Folder 77 Should Jews Unite?, Jewish People's Unity As a Force for American National Unity, By Alexander Bittelman
Folder 78 "School Bulletin"
Folder 79 Viesti, March, 1933
Folder 80 Viesti, April, 1933
Folder 81 Viesti, May, 1933
Folder 82 "A Youth Fraternal Order" Pamphlet, 1931
Folder 83 "We saw Spain" IWO meeting flyer, 1936
Folder 84 Laging Una, V.16, N. 1, January 5 1965
Folder 85 "Anti-Semitism and Reaction, 1795-1800, By Morris U. Schappes
Folder 86 "The Ashes of Six Million Jews", By Fred Blair, 1946
Folder 87 "Nowhere to Lay Their Heads", The Jewish Tragedy in Europe and its Solution, By Victor Gollancz

Box 13
Folder 71 Poster Printed in Yiddish
Folder 72 Ten Years Artef, March, 1937
Folder 73 "Workmen's Circle 37th Convention Journal 17th Kinder Ring", May, 1937
Folder 74 Gewerkschaften, Fiftieth Anniversary Edition
Folder 75 Manila Envelope Addressed to Anna Luczecgko from the International Workers Order
Folder 76 Book Written in Yiddish December 20, 1935
Folder 77 Revolt of the Reapers, By Siskind Liev
Folder 78 Resistance is the Lesson: the Meaning of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising
Folder 79 "The Strange World of Hannah Arendt", Maurice U. Schappes, 1963
Folder 80 Torchlight, "A Glance at the Old - A Look Ahead at the New"
Folder 81 "Where Are We Now?," 1956
Folder 82 I.W.O. on Parade, 1938
Folder 83 Letters to Anna Luczeczko, IWO member, 1939
Folder 84 IWO Duplicate Membership Form, 1939
Folder 85 Give Them Aid and Comfort - Solidarity Gifts