Michigan State University

Collection Development Policy Statement: American Radicalism

Written by: Peter Berg Draft date: December 11, 1996

Purpose or Scope of Collection

A. Curricular/Research/Programmatic Needs

The American Radicalism Collection supports the information, instruction, and research needs of the MSU faculty, students and staff, as well as visiting researchers and the general public. While no formal academic program(s) currently exists at MSU in American radicalism, the collection serves numerous University departments and programs whose faculty and students pursue interests in the study of American Radicalism. These include American Thought and Language; History; English; Anthropology; Journalism; Political Science; Women's Studies; James Madison College; American Studies; and Racial and Ethnic Courses.

B. History of the Collection/Existing Strengths and Emphases

The beginning of the American Radicalism Collection dates to the 1950's when a large collection of materials related to the Communist Party of the USA was acquired. Since then the collection has grown to include books, pamphlets, periodicals, posters, and ephemera covering a wide range of viewpoints on political, social, economic, environmental, racial, gender, and sexual issues that affect American life. The collection emphasizes the material of groups, organizations, movements, and/or individuals whose viewpoint(s) reflects a radical or alternative vision to American life. The collection, for example, has materials devoted to such diverse figures and groups as Timothy Leary, Reverend Jerry Falwell, the Black Panther Party, the National Organization for the Advancement of White People, Students for a Democratic Society, Young Republicans,the Family Forum, and the Lesbian Avengers. The collection's greatest strength is in the publications of the American Left in the twentieth century, especially the growth of American communism, American labor history, and the student ati-war movement of the 1960's. Over the years a strong collection of Ku Klux Klan materials has also been accumulated. Recently, efforts have been initiated to collection materials of the Christian right, the contemporary men's movement, and the Gay and Lesbian communities.

This collection features subscriptions, back files, and sample issues of a wide range of alternative magazines and newspapers. Approximately 1,200 titles are represented. Publications of the Political parties of the left and racist and neo-Nazi organizations of the right are included, along with advocacy and social change publications which address topics ranging from women's rights, the environment, gay and lesbian issues, and alternative living, to United States foreign and domestic policy. There are also strong holdings of underground newspapers from the 1960's and 1970's including the Berkeley Barb, the Los Angeles Free Press, and Great Speckled Bird, and The Paper, East Lansing's alternative paper of the 1960's.

Many of the titles in this collection are indexed in the Alternative Press Index(1969-), in specialized subject indexes prepared in Special Collections,as well as other indexes and abstracts in the library.

A collection of approximately 3,700 titles incorporating materials not only from the Communist Party of the U.S.A. but also from a number of Trotskylist groups including the American Workers Party, the Communist League of America, the Revolutionary Workers League and the various youth branches and front organizations of the Left for the years between 1919 and the 1950's. There are anti-communist materials from governmental agencies and commercial publishers as well. Included are several hundred books, significant holdings on internal party affairs (discussion papers on theoretical issues, policy questions and intrapartydisputes, minutes of meetings, etc.), and over 3,000 pamphlets covering politics, labor, women and minorities, the economy, foreign policy and other issues. In addition, there are groupings of curricular material from the Jefferson School, the Workers School, and the Lenin School in Moscow.

Featured among the serials are the Call Magazine(1917-18), issued on the eve of the formation of the CPUSA; ClassStruggle (1917-19), a theoretical Marxist periodical; Coastwise Unity(1935- 46), issued by the Communist Party dock unit; International Press Correspondence(1929-38), one of the most important single sources for the study of the communist international; and the Hearst Worker, 1936, published by the ACommunist Party Nucleus in the Hearst plant.

A large and growing collection of pamphlets, leaflets, clippings, and other material on a wide range of over 2,300 subjects. The ARVF is especially strong in the New Left (primarily Students for a Democratic Society), the Vietnam War era, and materials relating to contemporary issues. A sample listing of subject area file titles includes, American Christian Cause, Birth Control, Jesse Jackson, John Birch Society, Labor Youth League, Communes, Klanwatch, Lesbian Mothers, Dignity,Women Against Pornography, Solar Energy, White Supremacist Movements, and Zero Population Growth. There are also extensive files from the Peace Education Center of East Lansing.

Both Edith and Arthur Fox were long-time political and labor activists in Detroit. They were employed in the auto industry and militantly involved in union work, he in Local 600 (Ford Rouge Plant) and she in Local 3 (Dodge Main in Hamtramack), The collection has pamphlets, election material, and shop papers which document their involvement in a number of dissident groups within the United Auto Workers, including the United National Caucus which lobbied for a more democratic union structure. As members of the Trotskyite Socialist Workers Party they collected a good deal of internal party material from the late 1930's to the Vietnam War era.

Since the acquisition of materials from the estate of a Michigan Klan member over a decade ago, this collection has grown in size and quality. Most of the primary items in the collection date from the 1920's and 1930's, a period of growth in the Klan's history. Constitutions, installation ceremonies, advertisements for Klan merchandise, and the role of women in the Klan are all included from this period. There are also of the Kourier, the official monthly magazine of the Knights of the KKK. (A full run of this title is on microfilm in the Microfilm Library, 3rd floor West). The collection features a number of secondary studies of the Klan, as well as the research materials used by Wyn Wade in his book, The Fiery Cross(1987). In 1994, a large collection of United Klans of America material was added to these holdings.

The Changing Men Collections is a research collection comprised of materials related to the men's movement. It originated at M.S.U. in 1990, with a donation from members of the National Organization for Changing Men. Over 300 individual files representing men's groups worldwide are here. The periodical collection is significant and includes Men's Studies Review, Changing Men, Today's Dads,and Wingspanamong others. There are also materials from conventions and major events in the movement.

Named in honor of its donor, Saul Wellman, long time Communist Party member, Spanish Civil War veteran and political commissar in the International Brigades, this collection contains materials collected by Wellman over a thirty year period in which he was first a party organizer in the Detroit auto plants, and later an active participant in many New Left political organizations and movements. Publications and documents of the Communist Party, USA, especially from the 1950's, the complete transcript of Wellman's 1953-54 Smith Act trial, and extensive materials documenting a wide range of Detroit groups and events are included.

The Dignity Archive consists of five boxes containing about 100 file folders of material relating to the national and regional chapters of Dignity, a gay/lesbian organization whose membership is primarily Roman Catholic. These materials, including conference papers, newsletters, leaflets and miscellaneous publications from the late 1960's to the mid-1980's, were collected and donated by Steven L. Berg.

Michigan State University