Guide to the Communist Collection of A.E. Forbes, 1921-1972 AIS.2000.07

ULS Archives & Special Collections

Summary Information

Repository
ULS Archives & Special Collections
Title
Communist Collection of A.E. Forbes
Creator
Forbes, A. Edward (Adolph Edward), 1907-
Collection Number
AIS.2000.07
Date [inclusive]
1921-1972
Extent
4.6875 linear feet (3 boxes)
Abstract
Adolph Edward Forbes was a member of the Communist Party (CP) in Pittsburgh from the late 1930s through World War II. The collection presents broadsides and newsletters, some of which were hand rendered and relate specifically to the region, others are widely available Communist Party and Left wing propaganda. The collection also contains family and wartime correspondence, fictional writing, and a diary. Digital reproductions of selected material is available online.

Preferred Citation

Communist Collection of A.E. Forbes, 1921-1972, AIS.2000.07, Archives & Special Collections, University of Pittsburgh Library System

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Biography

Born in 1907, Adolph Edward Forbes lived in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh with his mother, father, and siblings. Following high school, Forbes spent fifteen years working in Pittsburgh and also traveling throughout the country, both on his own and later with the United States Navy. By the early 1930s Forbes was a member of the Communist Party, as evidenced by his involvement with its front organizations such as the Workers International Relief (WIR), Cultural Division. Forbes' work in the CP reflected his own interests, such as writing, acting, and selling books. During this time, Forbes worked on novels and short stories. He also acted in local productions of radical plays, was involved in the Pittsburgh Pen and Hammer (a working-class literary publication), and tried to establish a labor research library. There is no indication that Forbes held any high post in the Communist Party at either the national or local level.

In 1940, Forbes left civilian life and entered the United States Navy. In the Navy, Forbes was first a clerk and later a shipbuilder. It was during this time that Forbes met his future wife, Shirley Levine. They were married during World War II and eventually settled in Pittsburgh. While Forbes briefly attended the University of Pittsburgh following high school, he completed his degree after the war, making use of the G.I. Bill. In the next decades, Forbes remained in Pittsburgh with his family and became active within the local Jewish community.

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Scope and Content Notes

This collection has been broken down into two series. The first presents a collection of Left wing agitation and propaganda publications that demonstrate representative rhetoric on positions important to the American Left during the Depression decade through World War II. Primarily in the form of broadsides, pamphlets, newsletters, and flyers, these documents detail both issues known internationally and ones unique to Pittsburgh. For a sampling of material contained within this series, please consult the online exhibit at http://historicpittsburgh.org/collection/communist-collection-ae-forbes. Additional information on this series is found in the Series I scope note in the contents list located below.

Series II consists of material personal to Forbes, such as his writing and correspondence. The correspondence that Forbes maintained with his family and friends in the midst of his travels prior to World War II comprise the majority of this series. The collection contains letters as early as 1922, but not until the late 1920s is the correspondence continuous. Additionally, this series contains his efforts at writing fiction (drafts of short stories, ideas for novels, and scripts for plays) and a 1939 diary detailing his thoughts on life, women, and politics. While the focus of Series II is not communism or the Communist Party, documents and references to both are found throughout the series. Further information on Series II is provided in the contents list.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

ULS Archives & Special Collections, 2004

University of Pittsburgh Library System
Archives & Special Collections
Website: library.pitt.edu/archives-special-collections
412-648-3232 (ASC) | 412-648-8190 (Hillman)
Contact Us: www.library.pitt.edu/ask-archivist

Revision Description

 Converted from EAD Version 1.0 to EAD Version 2002 July 1, 2006

Access Restrictions

No restrictions.

Copyright

Permission for publication is given on behalf of the University of Pittsburgh as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

Acquisition Information

These papers were acquired by the Archives Service Center in October 2000.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Kate Colligan in 2001 and then revised by Ian Hartman and Kate Colligan in 2004.

Existence and Location of Copies

Digital reproductions of the collection are available electronically at http://historicpittsburgh.org/collection/communist-collection-ae-forbes.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Communist Party of the United States of America.

Family Name(s)

  • Forbes family

Personal Name(s)

  • Forbes, A. Edward (Adolph Edward), 1907-

Subject(s)

  • Authors, American -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
  • Communists -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
  • Social action

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Previous Citation

Communist Collection of A.E. Forbes, 1921-1972, AIS.2000.07, Archives Service Center, University of Pittsburgh

Forbes, A.E., Papers, ca. 1921-1972, ais 2000:07 as well as A.E Forbes Communist Collection.

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Collection Inventory

Series  I. Left Wing and Labor Agitation Broadsides, 1925-1949 

Scope and Content Notes

Topics covered in Series I reflect the involvement of Left wing groups (notably the CP) in local, national, and international affairs. Locally, documentation includes hand-rendered, mimeographed broadsides pertaining to issues including strikes, rallies, and protests for imprisoned labor leaders such as Phil Frankenfeld and James Egan. Also documented are local efforts to aid hunger and advocate for unemployment benefits. Flyers demanding justice for Eugene Cole, an African-American from Pittsburgh jailed for alleged murder are included as well. Flyers, course descriptions, and events from the Pittsburgh Workers School also reside in Series I.

At a national level, documents reveal Left wing participation in elections along with activism for unemployment and social security benefits. Items pertaining to Tom Mooney and the Scottsboro Boys are well represented. This series also reflects international circumstances such as the Communist Party's relationship with the Soviet Union, the rise of fascism, and the Spanish Civil War.

Beyond broadsides, pamphlets, and flyers, there are several labor publications, often specific to a given factory or mill. Youth publications from both the Youth Communist League (YCL) and National Student League (NSL) are also included.

The documents found in the first sixteen folders can be viewed at http://images.library.pitt.edu/a/aeforbes. The online exhibit displays a representative selection of this series.

  BoxFolder
Left Wing Pamphlets and Flyers, 1932-1940 11-9
  Folder
Flyers, Pamphlets, Newsletters, and Broadsides, 1930-1940 10-14
  Folder
Pittsburgh Workers School, 1933-1939 15-16
  Folder
Unemployed Councils and Pennsylvania Unemployed League, 1933-1937 17-18
  Folder
International and National Affairs, 1932-1940 19-20
  Folder
Youth and Student Movement, 1932-1940 21-22
  Folder
Notices for Miscellaneous Economic Issues, 1932-1937 23
  Folder
International Affairs, 1934-1939 24
  Folder
The Workers International Relief Cultural Activities, 1932-1935 25
  Folder
The American League Against War and Fascism, 1934-1939 26
  Folder
Civil Rights and CP Youth Bulletins, 1935-1944 27
  Folder
International and National Affairs, 1933-1939 28
  Folder
Socialist Labor Party of America, 1925-1935 29
  Folder
Western Pennsylvania Communist and Labor Publications, 1935-1939 30
  Folder
Illinois and Indiana Labor Publications, 1933-1940 31
  Folder
Labor Publications from Various States, 1933-1939 32
  Folder
Bulletin of Events, Allegheny County, Educational Bulletin: International Labor Defense, 1935-1937 33
  Folder
Left Wing Youth Publications, 1932-1936 34
  Folder
The Bulletin of the United Committee of South Slavic Americans, 1946 35
  Folder
Open Letters to Communist Party Members, 1934-1940 36
  Folder
Political, Cultural, and Economic Publications, 1933-1942 37
  Folder
Jewish Newsletter and Leaflets, Muldowney Political Photographs, 1930-1940 1930-1940 38
  Folder
Issues of the Fight Against War and Fascism, 1936 39
  Folder
Issues of PM Newsletter, 1930-1940 40
  BoxFolder
Miscellaneous Labor and CP Flyers Calling for Racial Equality, 1933-1939 21
  Folder
Tom Mooney Letters, Posters, and Broadsides, 1933-1937 2
  Folder
Left Wing Cultural Material, 1930-1938 3
  Folder
CP Material Dealing with Race and Culture, 1934-1937 4
  Folder
American Veterans Committee (AVC) Newsletters and Pamphlets, 1947-1948 5
  Folder
Invitations and Bulletins to CP Events: Pre-War and Post-War, 1938-1946 6
  Folder
Issues of InFact Newsletter, 1942-1950 7-8
  Folder
Pen and Hammer Bulletin: Local and National, 1932-1935 9
  Folder
Leaflets, Prints, Printed Letters, 1931-1945 10
  Folder
The Pennsylvania Veteran, 1948 11
  Folder
Miscellaneous CP Items, 1932-1940 12
  Folder
Agitation Theatre Written For Recruitment, 1937 13

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Series  II. Writing and Correspondence, 1920-1962 

Scope and Content Notes

This series contains the personal material of Forbes, including many items that do not explicitly relate to communism. Most prominently featured in this series are Forbes' correspondence with his family, friends, and people he met while away from Pittsburgh. More specifically, his sister Ethel and his friend Herbert Leifer account for most of the correspondence. Folders marked 'miscellaneous' usually refer to female acquaintances he met or one of the few cousins with whom he remained in contact. Beyond family and friends, Forbes also corresponds extensively with his fiancée, Shirley Levine. Letters to a war buddy, Heinz, reveal that Forbes was assigned to spy on subversives while stationed in Alaska with the Navy (Folder 18).

Series II also displays Forbes' interest in writing short stories, novels, and plays. Although the series does not contain any completed works, it does include several outlines, drafts, and sketches for projects that Forbes intended on using to launch a writing career. In one instance Forbes worked on a novel about a female heroine, many of the files containing questionnaires and articles relate to this venture. In 1939, Forbes intermittently kept a diary in which he divulges information ranging from his concern with the direction of his life to his relationship with women and his political views.

For researchers aiming to find Forbes' work with the Communist Party, there are a few documents that explicitly relate to this. A small notebook and several pages from a larger notebook provide meeting minutes from the Pittsburgh Pen and Hammer. Also, letters from the Workers International Relief express Forbes interest in doing 'cultural' work for the Party. In addition to these, the correspondence, while primarily focusing on the more mundane aspects of life, sometimes relates to the Communist Party and communism.

  Folder
Miscellaneous Instructional Writing and Female Adolescent Material, 1937-1939 14
  Folder
Questionnaire Dealing With Politics, Economics, and Sex, 1938-1939 15
  Folder
Miscellaneous Advertisements and Forbes' Mother's Death Notice, 1948-1955 16
  Folder
Forbes Family Material: Home, School, and Religion, 1958-1962 17
  Folder
Post War Correspondence (Two Items), and 1947 1949 18
  Folder
Fictional Writing by A.E. Forbes, 1920-1940 19
  Folder
Wartime Correspondence with Shirley Levine, 1944-1945 20
  Folder
Wartime Correspondence with Immediate Family, 1941-1943 21
  Folder
Letters Written by A.E. Forbes, , 1922-1933 1945 22-23
  Folder
Forbes Diary and Novel Notes, 1939 24
  BoxFolder
Miscellaneous Letters to A.E. Forbes, 1922-1936 31-18
  Folder
Correspondence: Immediate Family, 1922-1936 19-29
  Folder
Herbert Leifer to A.E. Forbes, 1926-1931 30-34
  BoxFolder
Miscellaneous Material Written by Forbes, 1929-1939 41
  Folder
School Work and Paper, Undated 2
  Folder
Various Writings, 1936-1939 3
  Folder
Correspondence with Marie Boyer, 1939 4
  Folder
Correspondence with Edna Pearl, 1940 5
  Folder
Correspondence with Carol R., 1939-1940 6
  Folder
Correspondence with Dolly, 1942-1943 7
  Folder
Correspondence with Marian and Buzzie, 1939-1940 8
  Folder
Correspondence with Alice, 1941-1943 9
  Folder
Miscellaneous Letter from Forbes, 1941-1943 10
  Folder
Papers, Essays, and School/College Items, 1929-1939 11
  Folder
Pictures and Letter, Undated 12
  Folder
Letters to County and State Officials, 1938 13
  Folder
Maps: National and International, Undated 14
  Folder
Scripts: 'Out of the Sky,' 1937 15
  Folder
Scripts: 'Two Worlds,' 1937 16
  Folder
Popular Song Sheet, Undated 17
  Folder
Issue of New Masses (not complete), Undated 18

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