Joel Blau Collection of New American Movement Records
Language of Materials
The New American Movement (NAM) was established in 1972 by veterans of the New Left who wanted to move beyond the activism of the 1960s and rejected a Communist "vanguard party" approach to organizing. NAM's overarching goal was to create a democratic socialist society, characterized by racial, sexual and economic equality. In 1982, the organization joined with the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee to form the Democratic Socialists of America. This collection contains conference and convention materials, correspondence, meeting minutes and agendas, position papers, reports, educational materials, and printed ephemera. The collection also contains some files on other socialist and left organizations, some of which contain discussion of NAM's relations with these organizations.
The New American Movement (NAM) was established in 1972 by members of the New Left movement, the anti-war movement, and the socialist feminist women's movement. The founders wanted to form an explicitly democratic socialist and socialist feminist organization that rejected all forms of authoritarianism. NAM was committed to internal democracy and required that women make up at least 50% of all leadership bodies; members did not want to have a single, long-term, male leader. NAM's overarching goal was to build a mass movement for a democratic socialist society. NAM saw this movement in opposition to oppression based on race, gender, sexual orientation, and class.
NAM was an activist organization with over forty chapters, primarily based in the Midwest and the West Coast. NAM emphasized political education for all its members on the chapter and national levels. Several chapters organized evening Socialist Schools with classes on both practical and theoretical topics. Members worked in unions, community organizations, and local political campaigns, and were active in movements or reproductive justice, LGBTQIA+ rights, Nixon's impeachment, an end to the war in Southeast Asia, and South African and Central American solidarity. NAM chapters also held outreach forums and cultural events. NAM published a newspaper, New American Movement, and Moving On magazine. NAM also produced the internal newsletter Discussion Bulletin, and topical outreach pamphlets.
In the late 1970s, NAM began merger negotiations with the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee (DSOC) to build a democratic socialist organization combining the different generations and geographical locations represented by the two organizations. In March 1982, negotiations concluded, and DSOC and NAM joined to form the Democratic Socialists of America.
Joel Blau (1945-) is a Professor of Social Policy in the School of Social Welfare at Stony Brook University. His research and publications focus on the history and political economy of social welfare, economic precarity and inequality, and homelessness.
With the exception of box 18, this collection has not been arranged by an archivist. The majority of materials are arranged in the order in which they were received from the donor.
Scope and Contents
The Joel Blau Collection of New American Movement Records (1971-1982) consist of correspondence, meeting minutes and agendas, conference and convention materials, position papers, reports, educational materials, and printed ephemera crated by the New American Movement (NAM). The collection includes materials related to various NAM committees, commissions, task forces, and regional chapter files. There are also files on other socialist and left organizations, some of which contain discussion of NAM's relations with these organizations, including discussion within NAM on whether or not to merge with the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee to form the Democratic Socialists of America.
Material from NAM conventions includes notes, resolutions, agendas, statements, convention packets, song sheets, correspondence, planning and workshop materials.
Position paper topics address discrimination against women, racism, foreign policy, occupational health and safety, fair taxation, housing and other economic issues. The collection also contains statements addressing NAM strategies and activity proposals.
The collection includes issues of NAM publications including Discussion Bulletin, Move On, Red Gargoyle, Gateway Star and other regional newsletters. There is also a selection of materials regarding the production of some NAM publications.
The collection contains a variety of material produced by the NAM National Office, National Interim Committee, the Expanded National Interim Committee, and the Political Committee. NAM commissions, caucuses and task forces documented in the collection include the Anti-Racism Commission, Campus Commission, Class Study Commission, Economic Task Force, Electoral Commission, Energy Commission, Gay Caucus, Health Commission, Commission on Internationalism, Labor Commission, Marxist Leninist Caucus, Occupational Health and Safety Task Force, Socialist Feminists, Urban Commission, and others.
Regional chapter files include correspondence, newsletters, position papers, agendas and notes from NAM chapters across the country. Represented regions include the Industrial Heartland, Midwest, West Coast, Southwest, Rocky Mountain Region, South, Northwest, and Northeast chapters. There are materials on both active and inactive chapters, chapter evaluations, chapter report summaries and rejected NAM Chapter applications.
Correspondence with other organizations, parties, and groups includes some ephemera produced by those organizations. Organizations represented in the collection include ACORN, American Friends Service Committee, Christians for Socialism, Coalition for New Foreign and Military Policies, Freedom Socialist Party, International Socialists, Movement for Economic Justice, National Alliance Against Racism and Political Repression, National Black Political Assembly, New Action Party, New Democratic Party, People's Party, Socialist Party USA, Sojourner Truth Organization, War Resistance League, Wisconsin Alliance and others.
One box of materials added to the collection in 2018 includes additional position papers, resolutions, statements, and proposals related to the 1972 Founding Constitutional Conference, as well as organizational literature and pamphlets produced around the same time.
Conditions Governing Access
Materials are open without restrictions.
Conditions Governing Use
Tamiment Library has no information about copyright ownership for this collection and is not authorized to grant permission to publish or reproduce materials from it. Materials in this collection, which were created in 1971-1982, are expected to enter the public domain in 2103.
Identification of item, date; Joel Blau Collection of New American Movement Records; TAM 051; box number; folder number; Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, New York University.
Location of Materials
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Materials found in repository; provenance is unknown. Accession numbers associated with this collection are 1980.009 and 2011.016. Additionally, a copy of a police report on the New American Movement was donated by Joel Blau in 1998; its associated accession number is 2014.077. One box of conference position papers and organizational literature was found in repository and added to the collection in 2018. The accession number associated with this gift is 2018.008.
One manuscript box of mixed material was found in the repositiory and added to the collection in June 2018. The accession number associated with this accretion is 2018.087. One banner was found in the repository in 2019; the accession number associated with this item is 2019.047.
About this Guide
Some materials in the collection have been placed in new acid-free folders. Original folder information, when available, has been retained. Box 18, formerly box 1, was arranged by an archivist sometime prior to 2017.
In 2018 one box of position papers and organizational literature was added to the collection as box 21. These materials have not been organized by an archivist. The June 2018 Accretion containing position papers from 1972 to 1981 was added to the collection as Box 22. These materials were placed in new acid-free folders and boxes and have not been organized by an archivist.
In 2024 the collection title was changed from New American Movement Records to the Joel Blau Collection of New American Movement Records to more accurately reflect the contents and provenance of the materials. At this time the historical note was enhanced and a biographical note was added to include information about the collector, Joel Blau.