John and Constantine Poulos Papers
Language of Materials
John Poulos (1911-1980) was a Marxist, Trotskyist, writer and labor organizer from Lynn, Massachusetts. He organized Food Workers Local 701 of the AFL, and was a delegate to the CIO founding convention in 1938. He served on the national committee of the Socialist Workers Party, and later the Workers Party, and wrote extensively for its newspaper, Labor Action. He was involved in the fight against the Greek military dictatorship and set up a collection on Greek radicalism at the Tamiment Library. His brother Constantine ("Connie") Poulos (1916-1986) was a liberal journalist and founder and editor of political monthly: The Hellenic Spectator. Constantine was a journalist for the Overseas News Agency during World War II, and reported on the Greek resistance. After WWII, Constantine Poulos served as a liaison and translator for negotiations between American officials and the Greek resistance, namely, EAM-ELAS. He was expelled from Greece under the charge that he was "pro-communist". Constantine Poulos returned to the U.S. where he wrote for The Nation, was an editor of Holiday, and bought a weekly newspaper in Jamestown, NY, where he was to win a Pulitzer Prize for community journalism. The collection includes correspondence and articles by the Poulos brothers, as well as pamphlets and assorted materials pertaining to their individual political pursuits.
John Poulos (1911-1980), student and documenter of Greek and Greek-American radicalism, and a son of Greek immigrants, was born in 1911 in Lynn, Massachusetts. While in his twenties, and a food worker, he organized Food Workers Local 701 of the AFL and led the fledgling union into the emerging CIO, and was a delegate to the CIO founding convention in 1938. A Marxist, Poulos belonged to, and served on the national committee of the Socialist Workers Party, a Trotskyist organization. Later, in the 1940s he joined the Workers Party, also a Trotskyist organization. He served on its central committee, and wrote extensively for its newspaper, Labor Action. He was also active in the United Auto Workers, but by the late 1950s was blacklisted for his radical views. Remaining polticially active, he was involved in the fight against the Greek military dictatorship (1967-74). In the 1970s Poulos became an activist scholar of Greek studies, setting up a collection on Greek radicalism at the Tamiment Library. He died on December 20, 1980.
Constantine ("Connie") Poulos (1916-1986), John's younger brother, was born in 1916. Although familiar with Marxism through his older brother, Constantine was a liberal. In 1940 he was founder and editor of The Hellenic Spectator, a monthly of politics and the arts. With the outbreak of World War II, Constantine took a job as a journalist for the Overseas News Agency. He was eventually assigned to report on the Greek resistance and in 1943 became the first correspondent to enter occupied Greece, where he made his way to the mountains and came into contact with the communist-led united from resistance, the National Liberation Front (EAM-ELAS). Poulos's reports were picked up by hundreds of American newspapers, including the Greek press, and he also wrote interpretive essays which appeared in The Nation. After WWII, Poulos also reported from Bulgaria, Poland, Romania, Hungary and Palestine. At the war's end, Constatine Poulos served as a liaison and translator between American officials and resistance notables. He urged that EAM-ELAS be given at least an equal voice in the government being shaped for postwar Greece. While freely ackowledging the communist leadership of EAM-ELAS, Poulos felt that the resistance fighters were Greece's best democrats and that they would function honorably in a regime which guaranteed their political rights. This view ran counter to what became American policy, and Poulos was expelled from Greece under vague charges that he was "pro-communist". Poulos returned to the U.S. and eventually bought a weekly newspaper in Jamestown, NY, where he was to win a Pulitzer Prize for community journalism. He was able to get an editorial position at Holidaymagazine (1965-70), and wrote about the Greek Junta for The Nation. Constantine Poulos died June 3, 1986.
Organized into eight series: I. Constance Poulos writings and correspondence; II. Greek Wartime Resistance (WWII), Civil War, and the Aftermath; III. Greek Trotskyism and early Marxism; IV. John Poulos correspondence and Fourth International; V. Junta and Resistance ; VI. Greek language books, serials, and miscellaneous published materials, unprocessed; VII. Scrapbook on Greek Civil War; VIII, Addendum.
Scope and Content Note
The materials in the collection were created and accumulated by John and Constantine Poulos. The collection contains correspondence, dispatches and articles, typescripts, political cartoons, internal documents and bulletins of left-wing organizations, government documents, pamphlets and other published materials. The bulk and richest portion of the collection documents the Greek Civil War, 1944-49, and the history of Greek Trotskyism. There is also good documentation of the period of the Greek Junta, 1967-74, and resistance thereto, and of Greek-American radicalism. The collection is organized into five series, described below. In addition, three linear feet of Greek language publications have been separated for future integration into the Library's book, serial and ephemera holdings.
Series I, Constantine Poulos' writings and correspondence, offers keen insight into the situation in Greece, 1944-49, and the reaction of Britain and the U.S. In addition to his press dispatches and published articles, there are political cartoons by Poulos, U.S. government documents, and pamphlets published in the U.S. and Britain in support of the guerilla forces. This series also documents the consequences for Poulos' journalism career of his reportage on Greece.
Series II documents the Greek Resistance and Civil War and its Aftermath. Materials include EAM-ELAS communiques and central committee documents, underground leaflets and newspapers, reports on prisoners, and Connie Poulos memoranda to the U.S. government. There are also documents of several Trotskyist organizations, Greek trade unions, and British and American intelligence reports and diplomatic papers. Also included are pamphlets on the resistance groups that were published for American mass audiences. In addition there are materials from the late 1940s to the late 1970s connected to the development of the Greek radical movement and American reaction to that development.
Series III is one of the most extensive collections on Greek Trotskyism. Much of it was collected by John Poulos in the 1970s for a projected definitive history of Greek Trotskyism. Included are materials on the Greek Archeio-Marxists, a non-Stalinist group (never part of the Third International) which originated in the late 1910s and ultimately merged with the Trotskyist groups in the late 1930s.
Series IV contains the correspondence Poulos undertook to locate the materials on Greek Trotskyism and the rest of the collection. Much of this correspondence clarifies the identity, contributions, and fates of various Greek Trotskyists in the U.S. and Greece. Among his American correspondents were Trotskyists Hugo Oehler and Albert Glotzer.
Series V contains materials on the anti-junta movement of 1967-1974. Most of this material was published in the U.S. by collectives of radicals and liberals and provides a sense of the activity within the U.S. and of the major issues at stake. Other materials deal with the struggles in Greece itself.
Series VI contains books and serials in Greek, awaiting processing and cataloging.
Series VII contains a scrapbook of clippings on the Greek Civil War from 1940-1948.
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 John and Constantine Poulos was not transferred to New York University. Permission to use materials must be secured from the copyright holder.
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.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Donated by John Poulos, circa 1970. The accession number associated with this gift is 1970.002. Photographs separated during initial processing were also reincorporated into the collection. The accession number associated with this material is 1970.001. Additionally, several photographs found in the repository were added to the collection in 2014. The accession number associated with these items is 2014.073.
About this Guide
Photographs were separated from this collection during initial processing and were established as a separate collection, the John and Constantine Poulos Photographs (PHOTOS 088). In 2014, the photograph collection was reincorporated into the John and Constantine Poulos Papers. These photographs were added to the collection as a new series: Series IX: Photographs. A number of photographs found in repository in 2014 were also added to this series.