George Marion Papers
Language of Materials
George Marion was a journalist, author, and activist born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1905. After moving to New York City and meeting Celia Greenspan, Marion joined the Communist Party. In 1936, Marion went to Spain to cover the Spanish Civil War for the Daily Workerand the New Masses. Greenspan went to Spain shortly after Marion to volunteer as a medical worker. After they returned to New York in late 1937, Marion worked as a journalist and freelance writer, writing primarily on the Spanish Civil War, the Soviet Union, the Cold War, and censorship issues in the mainstream American press. Marion died of a heart attack in New York City at 50.
George Marion was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1905. His mother became a widow very young, and the family was poor. Marion began his journalism career in the advertising department of The Indianapolis Star. After moving to New York, he married Celia Greenspan. Greenspan was born in the Bronx, New York in 1907 into a lower-middle class, Jewish family. Her parents were Lithuanian-her father had been an anti-Czarist political prisoner in the south of Russia. In the early 1930s, Marion joined the Merchant Marines. He traveled and worked in India, Egypt, North Africa, West Africa, and Europe, working for a time at the Havas News Agency in Paris translating French cables and gaining knowledge about the political situation in Spain. Greenspan attended Hunter College, earning a degree as a lab technician. She joined the Communist Party in mid-1935, and Marion joined soon afterwards.
Marion reported from Spain as a freelancer in 1934-35, and returned to cover the Spanish Civil War in August, 1936 as a correspondent for the Daily Workerand The New Masses. Greenspan went to Spain in October, 1936, becoming the first American woman volunteer in Spain. She worked at first to organize a lab in Madrid for Dr. Norman Bethune, the Canadian surgeon who created the Canadian Blood Transfusion Service; then in February, 1937 she went to Murcia, just in time for the bloody Battle of Jarama, where she served as a nurse. Marion filed reports from Madrid, Valencia, and Murcia. Greenspan joined him in Madrid in July, 1937, and they returned together to the United States in November, 1937. Greenspan and Marion had two children, Ruth and Robert. They divorced and each later remarried.
From 1940-46 Marion was a staff reporter for the Hearst-owned tabloid, The New York Daily Mirror, which he left in June, 1946 to write the pamphlet: "The 'Free Press': Portrait of a Monopoly." Marion then joined the staff of the Daily Worker from 1947-1948. Marion's first full-length book, Bases & Empire: A Chart of American Expansion, was the first work to show the economic basis of the Cold War and established Marion's reputation. Marion experienced the effects of blacklisting for his radical views. Unable to find a commercial publisher for any of his books, he self-published under the name Fairplay Publishers; the New York Times would not print an advertisement for his books (a fact which he proclaimed on the back cover of several of his books); and libraries bought his books but would not circulate them. Marion also had difficulty getting anyone in the mainstream press to review his books; consequently, he toured and lectured widely to promote them.
Marion died of a heart attack on November 2, 1955. His obituary in the People's Daily World said that the "tremendous strain of…publishing in the face of commercial black-list was seen as having contributed to undermine his health."
Americans in Spanish Skies, dispatch in From Spanish Trenches, ed. Marcel Acier (New York: Modern Age Books, 1937) (as James Hawthorne).From these honored dead ...(as James Hawthorne with by David McKelvy White) (Imprint New York, Friends of the Abraham Lincoln Battalion, 1939(?)."Free Press"; Portrait of a Monopoly(New York: Fairplay Publishers, 1946).Bases & Empire, A Chart of American Expansion(New York: Fairplay Publishers, 1948).The Communist Trial: An American Crossroads(New York: Fairplay Publishers, 1949).All Quiet in the Kremlin(New York: Fairplay Publishers, 1951).Next Hundred Years; V.1(New York: Fairplay Publishers, 1953).Stop the Press!(New York: Fairplay Publishers, 1953).Selections from George Marion and Celia Greenspan's correspondence in Spain were printed in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade newsletter, The Volunteer, VII:2, July 1985.
Folders are arranged alphabetically by subject/author heading within each series. Unidentified authors are at the back of each series.
Organized into three series:
- I: Correspondence
- II: Subject Files
- III: Writings
Scope and Content Note
The George Marion Papers consist predominantly of correspondence, research, and personal material produced between 1936 and 1937.
George Marion used the names Marion Greenspan (Greenspan was Celia's maiden name, and the name appears on identification cards as far back as 1931); and James Hawthorne for some of his writings. He published his full-length books as George Marion. He often used the nickname "Marrie," especially in his correspondence with Greenspan.
The collection is arranged in three series:
Series I: Correspondence.Largely consists of outgoing and incoming letters between George Marion and Celia Greenspan written in 1936 and 1937 while both were volunteering in different towns in Spain. Their letters concern their day-to-day activities-Greenspan writes about her lab and hospital work, Marion about his travels to battle lines. In June, 1937 Marion began to pressure Greenspan into severing her ties with the International Brigade and resigning her position in order that she could be with him in Madrid. Greenspan prevaricated for a month-torn between her desire to be with Marion and her feeling of responsibility to her nursing position in Murcia's extremely busy wartime hospital. (Some of Greenspan's letters from this period were written on the reverse side of vaccination certifications.) Finally Greenspan gave in to Marion's efforts to persuade her. Their letters stop in late July, 1937 with Greenspan expressing anxiety about getting into Madrid without her International Brigade identification. Also of special note in this series are a letter from "Mrs. Finlay" to Marion asking for information about her son who had died in the SCW; and a 1938 letter heavily censored with scissors from Joseph Rosentein in Spain to Marion in New York. There is one letter in Spanish addressed to Greenspan from José Saldaña.
Series II: Subject Files.Consists of ID and press cards for Marion: includes a 1931 Certificate of Seaman's Service as mess-boy duty on the S.S. West Humhaw; a card for the Socorro Rojo Internacional (Canadian Blood Transfusion Service division in Madrid) signed by Norman Bethune; and Spanish language papers issued by the International Brigade certifying Marion to travel in battle areas. Printed matter includes leaflets dropped from planes offering safe repatriation (in German and French); an antifascist cartoon; SCW postcards; and a small map of Barcelona. The Celia Greenspan file contains her International Brigade passport, identification papers and cards.
Series III: Writings.Consists of extensive research, notes, and chronologies (typescripts and 3 x 5 cards) by George Marion detailing the progress of the political situation in Spain from 1913 through 1938. There is a proposal and a rejection letter for a book called Defense of Madrid. Also included are typescripts for articles and books on the SCW, including "Civilian at Guadalajara," The Yanks Were There, and Thou Too, Madrid.
Materials are open to researchers. Please contact the Tamiment Library & Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives for more information and to schedule an appointment, email@example.com or 212-998-2630.
Any rights (including copyright and related rights to publicity and privacy) held by the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives (ALBA), were transferred to New York University in November 2000 by the ALBA Board of Governors. Permission to publish or reproduce materials in this collection must be secured from the Tamiment Library & Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 212-998-2630.
Published citations should take the following form:
Identification of item, date; Collection name; Collection number; box number; folder number;
Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012, New York University Libraries.
The George Marion Papers were donated to the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives collections in October, 1983 by Elizabeth Craney Marion, George Marion's second wife. This collection came to New York University in January 2001 as part of the original acquisition of ALBA collections, formerly housed at Brandeis University.
Photographs from the George Marion Papers have been transferred to the non-print section of the ALBA collection in the Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives.