LC Press Release




                          January 18, 2000
                          Contact: Helen Dalrymple (202) 707-1940
      Public Affairs      Public Contact: (202) 707-5387
          Office
     101 Independence        Library of Congress Opens to Researchers the
        Avenue SE                Records of the Communist Party, USA
      Washington DC        Microfilm Includes 435,165 Frames on 326 Reels
        20540-1610
    tel (202) 707-2905    The Library of Congress has opened for research
    fax (202) 707-9199    copies of the records of the Communist Party, USA
    e-mail pao@loc.gov    (CPUSA) covering the period from the 1920s to the
                          1940s. This collection of documents had long been
                          thought destroyed. However, in late 1992, after
                          the dissolution of the Soviet Union, a historian
                          in the Manuscript Division of the Library of
                          Congress, John Earl Haynes, learned that the CPUSA
                          had secretly shipped these records to the Soviet
                          Union more than 50 years ago, where they were kept
                          in a closed Communist Party archives. In the post-
                          Soviet era the new Russian government took control
                          of these records and opened them for research.

                          In January 1993, Dr. Haynes traveled to Moscow and
                          was the first American scholar to examine this
                          historically significant collection, housed in
                          what is today known as the Russian State Archives
                          of Social and Political History. Upon his return
                          to the United States, he recommended that the
                          Library of Congress propose to the Russian
                          Archives that the collection be microfilmed and a
                          set of the microfilm deposited in the Library to
                          ensure their permanent availability.

                          The Library of Congress opened negotiations with
                          the Russian Archives in 1993 to microfilm the
                          collection. The negotiations over the years that
                          followed involved staff of the Library's
                          Manuscript and European divisions as well as James
                          H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress. In late
                          1998, a formal agreement was signed by Winston
                          Tabb, Associate Librarian for Library Services, on
                          behalf of the Library, and Kyrill Anderson,
                          director of the Russian Archives. The project has
                          now been completed. In total, the film includes
                          435,165 frames on 326 reels. The cost of filming
                          was supported by a "Gift to the Nation" from John
                          Kluge, chairman of the Library's Madison Council,
                          and the Library's James B. Wilbur Fund for Foreign
                          Copying.

                          The previous paucity of the archival record has
                          been a major obstacle to scholarship on the
                          history of the American Communist movement.
                          Accounts of the history of American communism and
                          the related issue of anticommunism have been
                          highly contentious, with the academic consensus
                          varying widely over the decades in part due to the
                          shallowness and resulting ambiguity of the
                          evidential base. The CPUSA has always been a
                          secretive organization; while occasional
                          government raids, subpoenas, search warrants, and
                          congressional investigations made some
                          documentation part of the public record, the
                          quantity was never large because of the party's
                          practice of hiding or destroying records. Although
                          some party documents have also become available in
                          the papers of various private individuals, the
                          quantity is limited.

                          Now any researcher can read microfilmed copies of
                          the original documents in the Manuscript Reading
                          Room of the Library of Congress. Historians will,
                          therefore, have a much stronger basis for
                          reconstructing an accurate picture of American
                          communism and anticommunism from the 1920s to the
                          1940s. A finding aid has been created to guide
                          researchers through the collection.

                          Many of the documents in this collection are
                          unique; the records are very detailed regarding
                          the history of the CPUSA, particularly for its
                          origins in the 1920s and the early and middle
                          1930s. There are fewer records for the 1937-1944
                          period than for the earlier years, probably due to
                          the difficulties of shipping large quantities of
                          records once war started in 1939. The CPUSA
                          collection at the Russian Archives has no material
                          later than 1944.

                          Among the items in the CPUSA collection are:

                             * A 1919 letter from Nikolai Bukharin, head of
                               the Communist International in Soviet Russia,
                               to American radicals urging them to form an
                               American Communist Party. The Comintern (as
                               the Communist International was called) told
                               American radicals that they should organize
                               "Communist nuclei among soldiers and
                               sailors...for the purpose of violent baiting
                               of officers and generals, " recognize the
                               "necessity of arming the proletariat," tell
                               radical soldiers when demobilized from the
                               army that they "must not give up their arms,
                               " should expose President Woodrow Wilson "as
                               a hypocrite and murderer, in order to
                               discredit him with the masses," form
                               "militant organs of the struggle for the
                               conquest of the State power, for the
                               dictatorship of the Workers" and adopt the
                               slogan "Down with the Senate and Congress."

                             * A 13-page application for admission to the
                               Communist International from the newly
                               organized Communist Party of America. The
                               letter, dated November 24, 1919, ends with
                               the declaration that "The Communist Party
                               realizes the immensity of its task; it
                               realizes that the final struggle of the
                               Communist proletariat will be waged in the
                               United States, our conquest of power alone
                               assuring the world Soviet Republic. Realizing
                               all this, the Communist Party prepares for
                               the struggle. Long Live the Communist
                               International! Long live the World
                               Revolution."

                             * A 1926 memo regarding Soviet subsidies to the
                               American Communist movement. Different Soviet
                               agencies subsidized different American
                               Communist activities, and sometimes the
                               funds, sent to the United States by
                               surreptitious means, were delivered to the
                               wrong recipient. In this memo, the head of>
                               wrong recipient. In this memo, the head of
                               the American Communist party attempts to
                               reconcile who got which subsidies and which
                               transfers were needed to ensure that the
                               various activities received what Moscow
                               intended.

                             * Some documents illustrate the emphasis that
                               the CPUSA placed on organizing African
                               Americans. A 1924 letter from the Comintern,
                               for example, confirms that it was providing a
                               subsidy of $1,282 to send 10 black Americans
                               to the "Eastern University," a Comintern
                               school in Moscow. Another document is a
                               15-page report on the party's work in Harlem
                               in 1934.

                             * There is a small collection of the letters of
                               John Reed in the CPUSA collection. Reed, a
                               well-known American journalist of the 1910s,
                               was a founder of the American Communist Party
                               in 1919 and one of its early representatives
                               to the Comintern. However, he died of typhus
                               in the Soviet Union in 1920. This material is
                               thought to have been in his possession at the
                               time of his death and was added to the CPUSA
                               collection by Comintern archivists. (Reed was
                               the subject a successful 1981 Hollywood film,
                               "Reds," in which Warren Beatty played Reed.)
                               Reed reported on the Mexican Revolution, and
                               in a 1915 letter in the collection, written
                               from Mexico, he tells his editor in New York
                               about his impressions of several of the
                               leading Mexican Revolutionary generals:
                               Francisco "Pancho" Villa, Emiliano Zapata,
                               and Venustiano Carranza.

                             * A six-page report discusses Communist
                               attempts to organize sharecroppers in the
                               agricultural South in 1934. It includes brief
                               sketches of the sharecroppers the party
                               attracted to a "farm school" it set up in St.
                               Louis.


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