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American Committee for Cultural Freedom Records

Call Number



1939-1957, inclusive


American Committee for Cultural Freedom
Tamiment Institute (Role: Donor)


7 Linear Feet in 15 boxes

Language of Materials

English .


The American Committe for Cultural Freedom was formed in the 1950s as an affiliate of the International Congress for Cultural Freedom and membership included prominent liberal and leftist artists and intellectuals across a broad political spectrum. The group's activity involved the organization and execution of numerous anti-communist campaigns and programs. As Cold War tensions diffused, the group disolved. This collection includes the Committee's minutes, publications, proceedings of conferences, financial records, and files dealing with its relationship with Arthur Miller, Jean Paul Sartre, and Bertrand Russell.

Historical/Biographical Note

The American Committe for Cultural Freedom (ACCF) was formed in 1951 as a result of the dissolution and reorganization of the Committee for Cultural Freedom (which was active from 1939-1951). The American Committee on Cultural Freedom was the U.S. affiliate of the international anti-communist organization the Congress for Cultural Freedom. Membership in the ACCF included prominent artists and intellectuals across a broad political spectrum. The activities and programs of the committee were generally informed by the staunch anti-communist orientation associated with the height of the Cold War period. As Cold War tensions diffused during the mid-1950's, the organization first disaffiliated with the international Congress for Cultural Freedom and later folded in 1957. At the height of its activities, scores of artists and intellectuals were involved with the ACCF either as invited members, as participants in its numerous campaigns and programs, or as correspondents. In leadership roles and among the most significant correspondents were Daniel Bell, James T. Farrell, Sidney Hook, Irving Kristol, and Diana Trilling. Less actively involved but well represented by letters are Robert Oppenheimer, David Reisman, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., and Norman Thomas. Negative responses to membership invitations include Hannah Arendt and James Conant.


The collection is organized into three series, one of which is arranged into subseries:

I. Congress for Cultural Freedom (1950-1956)

II. Committee for Cultural Freedom (1939-1940)

III. American Committee for Cultural Freedom (1949-1957)

Subseries A: Correspondence, General

Subseries B: Corporate Records

Subseries C: Financial Affairs

Subseries D: Administrative Structure

Subseries E: Relations With Affiliated Organizations

Subseries F: Public Activities - Topics

Subseries G: Public Activities - Individuals' Cases

Subseries H: Public Activities - Miscellaneous

Subseries I: Proposed Projects

Subseries J: Miscellaneous Activities

Subseries K: Miscellaneous

Subseries L: Clippings

Subseries M: Previously Restricted Material

Folders are generally arranged alphabetically within each series.

Scope and Content Note

This collection primarily consists of the records of the American Committee for Cultural Freedom (ACCF), including correspondence, minutes, financial records and documentation of public activities. Significant correspondants include Arthur Miller, Bertrand Russell, Jean Paul Sartre, Norman Jacobs, David Reisman, Clinton Rossiter, George S. Schuyler, Stephen Spender, Gleb Struve, Harold Urey, and Karl Wittfogel. The records document the wide range of intellectual and artistic responses to Cold War issues. The collection also contains a small amount of organizational records from ACCF's predecessor organization, the Committee for Cultural Freedom, and its international affiliate, the Congress for Cultural Freedom.

Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright (or related rights to publicity and privacy) for materials in this collection, created by the American Committe for Cultural Freedom was not transferred to New York University. Permission to use materials must be secured from the copyright holder.

Preferred Citation

Identification of item, date; American Committee for Cultural Freedom Records; TAM 023; box number; folder number; Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, New York University.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Transfer from the Tamiment Institute, 1963. The accession number associated with this collection is 1968.001.

Custodial History

The American Committee for Cultural Freedom (ACCF) was dissolved in 1957, and at that time the organziation's papers were stored with Norman Thomas, educational director for the Tamiment Institute. The papers were transferred to NYU in 1963 along with the rest of the Tamiment Institute Library's manuscript collections. Beginning in 1968 the permission of either Daniel Bell or Sidney Hook was required for researchers seeking access to the collection. Following the 1975 publication of John P. Diggins' Up From Communism: Conservative Odysseys in American Intellectual History, which quoted from the collection, Daniel Bell and Arnold Beichman requested that the collection be closed to researchers. The reason given was that the collection contained not only organizational records, but also papers of a purely personal nature which needed to be examined by the donors to prevent embarrassment to living individuals. The closure of the collection was met with displeasure by a number of historians. After extensive correspondence with Daniel Bell, Ronald Radosh initiated a petition to the Committee on the Professions of the American Historical Association requesting an investigation into the closure of the collection. Following the petition, Tamiment processed the collection and Daniel Bell selected a small number of folders which were restricted until the early 2000s. The remainder of the collection was opened to researchers in 1980.

The accession number 1968.001 is associated with this collection.

Separated Material

Papers and correspondence by Joseph Gordon were separated to the Joseph Gordon Papers (TAM 082)

Related Materials

Papers of Daniel Bell at the Harvard University Archives (available to researchers in 2016)

Kalmyk Resettlement Committee Records (TAM 029) at the Tamiment Library

Collection processed by

Tamiment Staff

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2023-08-20 16:46:42 -0400.
Using Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language: Description is in English

Edition of this Guide

This version was derived from ACCF Guide.doc


Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
2nd Floor
New York, NY 10012