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Milton Wolff Papers

Call Number



1938-2004, inclusive


Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives
Wolff, Milton.


0.5 Linear Feet in 1 manuscript box.

Language of Materials

Materials are in English


Milton Wolff (1915-2008) was a writer, painter, photographer and activist who fought with the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, becoming commander of the Lincoln Battalion at the age of 22 and, subsequently, serving as National Commander of the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. He worked closely with many leftist groups, supported numerous left causes and wrote articles for periodicals such as the Daily Worker and the New Masses. He also published an autobiographical novel and a volume of memoirs. This collection features eight letters from Ernest Hemingway. It also includes a small amount of additional correspondence along with several notebooks and two unpublished manuscripts.

Historical/Biographical Note

Milton (Milt) Wolff (1915-2008) was born in Brooklyn, NY to a working -class family. He left school at fifteen and worked in the New Deal 's Civilian Conservation Corps, 1933-1934. He later found work in a Manhattan garment factory and became politically active through membership in the Young Communist League. When the Civil War broke out in Spain he responded to a YCL appeal for volunteers and sailed for Europe, aged 21, in March 1937. He initially served as a medic and then saw action in a machine-gun unit of the Washington Battalion in the Battle of Brunete in July 1937. The depleted U.S. forces were merged with the Lincoln battalion and Wolf rose quickly through the ranks. He led his unit at Belchite and in the unsuccessful assault at Fuentes del Ebro, and was promoted to captain during the battle of Teruel in January 1938. As the Loyalist forces retreated across the Ebro, and regrouped for a final offensive, Wolff, aged 22, became commander of the Lincoln Battalion.

Wolff met Ernest Hemingway while on leave after Brunete, and forged with him an intense, lasting, and sometimes contentious friendship. Hemingway once described Wolff as being "as brave and as good a soldier as any that commanded battalions at Gettysburg." On his return from Spain Wolff immediately became active in organizing support for Loyalist refugees and opposition to the Franco regime. He served as National Commander of the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade (1939-41 and 1942-54), and worked closely over many years with the Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee, the Action Committee to Free Spain Now, the U.S. Committee for a Democratic Spain, the Civil Rights Congress, and the Smith Trials Bail Fund. He campaigned for the integration of the Brooklyn Dodgers, organized aid to Cuba, demonstrated against the Vietnam War, and joined with other Lincoln veterans to send ambulances to Nicaragua.

During World War II he worked with the British Special Services before the U.S. entry into the War. He volunteered as a private in the U.S. Army infantry in June 1942 and saw action in Burma, served under General "Wild Bill" Donovan in the OSS building an intelligence network with Communist partisans in Italy, was a liaison to the Spanish Maquis in southern France, and served in India. He received a field commission as a lieutenant in Burma.

After the War he found a variety of jobs, and developed his talents as a writer, painter, and photographer. Among his published works are many articles in the Daily Worker, the New Masses, and other left periodicals, and an autobiographical novel, Another Hill (1994), and a volume of memoirs, Member of the Working Class (2005).


This collection has not been fully arranged by an archivist.

Scope and Content Note

This small collection includes eight letters from Ernest Hemingway, 1941-1961 (7 are copies, 1 is a signed original, dated August 25, 1941), and single letters by Bernard Goldring (1964), Bart van der Schelling (1959), and William Donovan (1945). Also included is a copy of the "Orders of the Day" listing officers of the 15th International Brigade, April 9, 1938. Two notebooks dating from the 1980s and 90s contain Wolff's notes on reading, sketches, and some political comments. Two unpublished manuscripts by Wolff, "The Premature Anti-Fascist" and "Member of the Working Class", are also included.

Access Restrictions

Materials are open to researchers. Please contact the Tamiment Library & Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives for more information and to schedule an appointment, or 212-998-2630.

Use Restrictions

Copyright (or related rights to publicity and privacy) for materials in this collection was not transferred to New York University. Permission to use materials must be secured from the copyright holder. For more information, please contact the Tamiment Library & Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, or 212-998-2630.

Preferred Citation

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, New York University.

Custodial History

The collection came to New York University in 2001 as part of the original acquisition of Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives collections, formerly housed at Brandeis University. The two unpublished manuscripts by Wolff were donated by Henry Foner on November 8, 2005.

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2023-08-20 16:36:47 -0400.
Using Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language: Description is written in: English, Latin script.


Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives


Box: 1 (Material Type: Mixed Materials)
Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
2nd Floor
New York, NY 10012