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Communist Party of the United States of America Records

Call Number



1892-2023, ongoing, inclusive
; 1950-1990, bulk


Communist Party of the United States of America


480.5 Linear Feet
in 420 record cartons, 38 oversize flat boxes, 1 large custom box, 3 shoe boxes, 3 artifact boxes, 6 CD boxes, 4 manuscript boxes, 1 half manuscript box, 15 oversize folders, 23 flat file folders, and 2 oversize rolls.


3512 audiocassettes


825 sound tape reels


69 CDs


612 VHS


476 U-matic


57 Betacam


62 Half_Inch_Video_Reel


3 1_Inch_Video_Reel


7 2_Inch_Videoreel


420 film reels


34.51 Gigabytes
on 15 CD-Rs, 20 floppy disks, 5 DVD-Rs, 1 zip disk, and 1 commercial CD

Language of Materials

The bulk of this collection is in English. Some materials are in Spanish and Russian.


The Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA) is a Marxist-Leninist political organization that was founded in Chicago in 1919. The CPUSA played a pivotal role in many significant political and social movements of the 20th century. Its Party platform focused largely on working class issues such as fair wages and unemployment, civil rights for racial and ethnic minorities, civil liberties for politically persecuted communities, economic justice for the poor, the unemployed and for immigrants, and international peace efforts. The Party's work left an indelible mark in the arena of progressive politics and made it an influential force in the labor movement, particularly from the 1920s to the 1940s. Its varied political, social, and cultural initiatives attracted the support of a number of prominent artists, intellectuals, and activists, including Woody Guthrie, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Angela Davis. Though the CPUSA's strength and size declined sharply following World War II and the advent of the Cold War and McCarthyism, it remains committed to socialism, peace, economic and social justice, and civil rights and liberties. The records of the Communist Party, USA provide vivid documentation of the organization's trajectory from its birth in 1919 to the early 2000s. The collection includes a diverse mix of correspondence, convention and conference materials, essays and manuscripts, internal discussion documents, reports, speech transcripts, research files, printed ephemera, clippings, legal documents, photographs, posters, audio tapes, films, videos, and a wealth of personal papers. Though materials from as early as 1892 can be found in the collection, the bulk of the records were created between 1950 and 1990. A more comprehensive record of the CPUSA's early 20th century activity can be found in the Files of the Communist Party of the USA in the Comintern Archives, 1919-1943 (Microfilm R-7548).

Historical Note

The Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA), a Marxist-Leninist party aligned with the Soviet Union, was founded in 1919 in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution by the left wing members of the Socialist Party USA. These split into two groups, with each holding founding conventions in Chicago in September 1919: one which established the Communist Labor Party, and a second which established the Communist Party of America. In a 1920 Joint Unity Convention, a minority faction of the Communist Party of America merged with the Communist Labor Party to become the United Communist Party. Under the strong recommendation of the Communist International (Comintern), the UCP ultimately joined the remaining members of the Communist Party of America in May 1921. At this point, the Party existed largely in an underground, clandestine manner. In December 1921, it formed the Workers Party of America to serve as its legal arm with the purpose of securing its right to a legal and open existence; the WPA in 1922 became the Workers (Communist) Party of America, the recognized U.S. affiliate of the Comintern. The Party established its newspaper, the Daily Worker, in 1924 as a means to communicate with membership and a larger left wing audience about the Party's policies and positions on a wide range of current events, with an emphasis on labor issues and social justice. By 1927, the Party had moved its headquarters to New York City. In 1929, it officially declared its name as the Communist Party of the United States of America, and had an affiliated youth group, the Young Communist League.

The CPUSA's highest governing body is its National Convention, which meets every few years to decide basic policy questions. The day to day leadership of the party is directed by about a dozen members of the Political Bureau or Political Committee and members from various national commissions. Between conventions, policy is set by a National Committee that consists of full time cadre, leading activists, public notables, and party officers. Between National Committee meetings, policy is set by the Central Committee. Due to a decline in Party membership, the Central and National Committees and their functions were merged into one body during the late 1980s; this body is now called the National Committee. At the regional level, the Party is divided into districts, which may be comprised of several states. Each district is made up of local clubs which form the most basic unit of the Party; in the early days of the Party, clubs were referred to as cells. Clubs are based on place of work (shop club) or on residence (neighborhood club).

As the prospect of imminent revolution in the United States faded, the Party focused on working within existing labor organizations, a tactic known as "boring from within", under the leadership of labor organizer William Z. Foster. It also began the process of "Bolshevization," in which the Party's language-based federations were reorganized into shop and neighborhood-based Party units. During the 1920s, much of the Party's energy was consumed by factional struggles between various left and right groups; these struggles mirrored events occurring in the international Communist movement, like the 1928 expulsion of Leon Trotsky's sympathizers. A political left turn in that year initiated the so-called Third Period (1928-1934) of Communism, in which the Party sharply attacked moderate socialist groups as "social fascists," and sought to form its own revolutionary trade unions rather than work within existing labor unions. This tactic, known as dual unionism, was not successful on its own terms, but it helped build a cadre of organizers who went on to play important roles in the development of the CIO. This was also the period during which the CPUSA developed a new stance on the status of black Americans, recognizing their oppression based on their nationality in addition to their class. This decision drew significant support among African and Caribbean American leftists. Beginning in 1928, the CPUSA ran candidates for president and vice president, including an African American vice presidential candidate, James W. Ford, in 1932. In 1930, the Party established the International Workers Order, a fraternal organization organized around ethnicity, which eventually grew to approximately a quarter million members. The largest single section was the Jewish Peoples Fraternal Order, a reflection of the fact that Jews were the largest ethnic group within the CPUSA.

The onset of the Great Depression led to an upsurge in Party activity, as members increased efforts to organize labor and rallied as advocates for the unemployed. The Party was also instrumental in the defense of political prisoners. Through the International Labor Defense, a legal defense organization affiliated with the CPUSA, Communist attorneys contributed to the defense of the Scottsboro Boys, nine young black men accused of rape. This period also saw the rise to leadership of Earl Browder, who was General Secretary of the Party from 1930-1945.

By 1935, the triumph of fascism in Germany led the Communist movement to embrace Popular Front politics. Communists began collaborating not only with socialists, but with liberals on anti-fascist and reformist goals. The CPUSA endorsed the New Deal, though it voiced many criticisms of the program. It also coined the slogan "Communism is Twentieth Century Americanism," in an attempt to emphasize that the organization reflected the best traditions of progressive American history. With the formation of the Congress of Industrial Organizations in 1935, hundreds of veteran Communist labor organizers helped organize millions of workers, and emerged as the leadership of the United Electrical Workers, the National Maritime Union, and several smaller unions. They were also an integral part of a progressive coalition heading the United Automobile Workers. In the South, the Party was committed to ending legal segregation and ensuring equal voting rights for minorities; through the Southern Negro Youth Congress in the 1930s and 1940s, the CPUSA worked to mobilize students, farmers, and industrial workers to overturn segregation laws and to build support for anti-lynching legislation. The Party was also a leading force in the American Student Union. By the summer of 1939, the Party had nearly 60,000 members and many more sympathizers, garnering a certain degree of respectability as a part of the left wing of the New Deal.

During the late 1930s and coinciding with the American-Soviet wartime alliance, the Communist Party had some significant electoral successes. As a result of proportional representation, two Communists were elected in the 1940s to the New York City Council, one on the Communist Party ticket and one on the American Labor Party ticket. Communists also allied with Minnesota's Farmer-Labor Party and were sometimes instrumental in the selection and election of progressive Democratic Party candidates.

In August 1939, just before the outbreak of World War II, the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany signed a non-aggression pact committing to cease anti-fascist action. During the years of the non-aggression pact, membership declined sharply, and the Party lost substantial influence among popular front organizations.

However, with the entry of the Soviet Union into the war in 1941, the Party abruptly returned to its Popular Front anti-fascist politics and recovered much of its influence. It reached its peak membership of about 80,000 during WWII. In its eagerness to be seen as part of the patriotic war effort, the Party had even tacitly endorsed the incarceration of Japanese Americans. Party General Secretary Earl Browder put forth the view that the postwar period could feature a continued U.S.-Soviet alliance, an expansion of the New Deal, and the indefinite postponement of the struggle for socialism. This proposal was reflected in the 1944 name change of the Party to the Communist Political Association. However, the onset of the Cold War undermined such hopes. By the end of 1945, the Party had reverted to its former name, deposing Earl Browder in favor of William Z. Foster, one of Browder's main critics. The postwar economic boom, along with the rising tide of anti-communism, further weakened the appeal of the CPUSA.

In 1947, the Truman administration instituted a loyalty oath program for Federal employees and began background investigations on persons deemed suspect of holding party membership in organizations that advocated violent and anti-democratic programs. That same year, the U.S. Attorney General compiled a list of organizations considered to be subversive. The CPUSA backed independent candidate Henry Wallace during the 1948 Presidential election; it also sought continued good relations with the USSR and opposed Truman's Cold War foreign policies. During this period, anti-communist measures accelerated. In 1949, the CIO expelled eleven unions deemed to be Communist dominated, and the top twelve leaders of the CPUSA were indicted and subsequently convicted under the Smith Act. Smith Act prosecutions of additional leading Communists followed the conviction of the initial group. Based in part on these measures, the House Committee on Un-American Activities held extensive hearings at which witnesses were expected to name political associates or face contempt charges unless they invoked the Fifth Amendment. The entertainment industry compiled its own list of suspected subversives, who were then denied employment. In 1950, the Subversive Activities Control Act was passed over President Harry Truman's veto. It required Communist organizations to register with the United States Attorney General and established the Subversive Activities Control Board to investigate persons suspected of engaging in subversive activities or otherwise promoting the establishment of a "totalitarian dictatorship." This act decimated the full range of the Party's Popular Front organizations. At the state level, there were analogous laws, prosecutions, and hearings.

Fearing the onset of a fascist dictatorship, the Party sent most of its leadership underground, further weakening the organization. The worst of the anti-communist fervor began to recede after the 1954 censure of Senator Joseph McCarthy and some favorable Supreme Court rulings. However, in 1956 the Communist Party was devastated by Soviet Premier Khrushchev's "Secret Speech" which acknowledged that crimes had been committed under the regime of Stalin. The Party, which had already lost three-quarters of its membership, suffered further losses, and went through a two-year internal crisis. This resulted in the 1958 defeat and resignation of the social democratic reform-minded elements within the Party. By 1959, when Gus Hall became General Secretary, the membership was less than 5,000.

During the 1960s and 1970s, the role of women and African Americans in the leadership of the Party increased notably. Children of Communists or former Communists made up a significant component of the young white civil rights workers who traveled to the South in the early and mid-1960s. Bettina Aptheker, daughter of the well-known Communist historian Herbert Aptheker, was a leading activist in the Free Speech Movement at the University of California at Berkeley. Charlene Mitchell, an African American, was the Party's 1968 presidential candidate; Angela Davis, also African American, ran for Vice-President on the Communist Party ticket in 1980 and 1984. The Party's National Chair was occupied by African American Henry Winston from 1966-1986. After his death, African American Jarvis Tyner, former head of the New York State District, stepped into the position, then renamed Executive Vice-Chair.

The CPUSA experienced some growth during the social movements of the 1960s and 1970s, despite its sometimes ambivalent relationship to the culture and politics of the New Left. The CPUSA's daily newspaper, the Daily Worker, was revived as the Daily World in 1967; it reported on the rebirth of the civil rights movement, and later, the anti-Vietnam movement and the growing black nationalist movement. In New York City, the Metropolitan Council on Housing, an old left Popular Front organization, grew to become one of the leading tenants' rights organizations in the city, with its own publication and radio program. Throughout the country, individual Communist activists were elected to local public offices, although none on the Communist Party ballot. The Party also continued its labor activism, establishing Trade Unionists for Action and Democracy, and playing a crucial role in the affairs of Local 1199, which represented hospital workers in the New York City area. It maintained an active opposition caucus within the American Federation of Teachers, opposing the policies of AFT president Albert Shanker.

In the 1980s, the Party continued to promote international peace efforts; working through the U.S. Peace Council, the CPUSA focused on nuclear disarmament and opposed Ronald Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative, or "Star Wars," program. They also directed more energy to attracting and recruiting a younger generation of activists with the decision to revive an official youth affiliate. The Party's youth organization had undergone several incarnations throughout the century—from the W.E.B. Du Bois Clubs to the Young Workers Liberation League. By the early 1980s, it was reinstated under its original name, the Young Communist League.

Parallel to the rise of Mikhail Gorbachev, the Party experienced the growth of a reform tendency in the latter 1980s. Many of these reformists left after their political defeat at the 1991 Party convention; they went on to form the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism. Despite a severe drop in membership, the CPUSA remained active during the 1990s, maintaining its focus on advocating for the working class, working towards equal rights for racial and ethnic minorities and women, and promoting international peace. With the rise of environmentalism in the 1980s and 1990s, the CPUSA joined in global efforts to protect the environment. Still based in New York City, the CPUSA continues to work on behalf of oppressed communities and advocate progressive social change.


During processing every attempt was made to maintain fidelity to the original order of the records in order to allow users insight into the record keeping practices of the organization, as well as the complexity of the organization itself. Many members held multiple positions in the Party; in record keeping, they did not always distinguish between files originating from different bodies within the Party. This was clearly reflected in the original order of the material as processors found portions of the records organized by individual and other portions organized by an administrative body such as a leadership body, a commission, or a district. Therefore, it is important for researchers to note that records that originate from individual creators or bodies, or materials that document a particular subject or event, may be found in multiple series. Videos, graphics, and audio recordings originally had little original order and were incorporated into the existing arrangement where possible in 2017. Remaining audio and video recordings are arranged in series by topic. It is strongly recommended that researchers use the electronic version of this finding aid, which will make searching across the entire collection significantly easier and more thorough.

Folders in each subseries are arranged alphabetically unless otherwise noted.

This collection is arranged into fourteen series:

Series I: National Administrative Records, 1913-2007
Subseries A: National Office, 1919-2001
Subseries B: National Bodies, 1929-2001
Subseries C: National Conferences and Conventions, 1919-1996
Subseries D: Gus Hall Files, 1925-2005
Subseries E: Simon Gerson Files, 1913-2000
Subseries F: Staff Files, 1946-2007

Series II: State and District Records, 1925-2003
Subseries A: States and Districts, 1925-1997
Subseries B: New York State Records, 1938-2003
Subseries C: New York State, Records of Jarvis Tyner, 1960-2002

Series III: Commissions and Departments, 1926-2000
Subseries A: History Commission, 1937-1999
Subseries B: International Affairs Commission, 1950-2000
Subseries C: Labor Commission, 1956-1999
Subseries D: Organization Department, 1960-1997
Subseries E: Central Review Commission, 1970-1990
Sub-subseries 1: Central Review Commission
Subseries F: Other Commissions, 1926-1999

Series IV: Education, 1940-2002
Subseries A: Education Department, 1940-1989
Sub-subseries 1: National Education Department, 1940-1989
Sub-subseries 2: New York State Education Department, 1946-1988
Subseries B: Schools, 1945-1993
Subseries C: Reference Center for Marxist Studies, 1977-2002

Series V: Affiliated and Allied Organizations, 1911-2007
Subseries A: National Coordinating Center in Solidarity with Chile, 1963-1979
Subseries B: Association of Lithuanian Workers, 1911-2007
Subseries C: Youth Organizations, 1922-2000

Series VI: Election Records, 1917-2000
Subseries A: US Presidential Elections, 1932-1984
Subseries B: National and State Elections, 1917-2000
Subseries C: New York City, State, and Congressional Elections, 1929-1988

Series VII: Trials and Legal Records, 1913-1987
Subseries A: Smith Act Trials, 1948-1957
Subseries B: General Trials, 1924-1987
Subseries C: Legal Documents and Legislation, 1913-1976

Series VIII: Publications, 1919-2002
Subseries A: People's Weekly World Administrative Records, 1919-2001
Subseries B: Daily World Clippings, 1960-1998
Sub-subseries 1: Communist Party, USA State Organizations, 1960-1998
Sub-subseries 2: Labor Unions and Labor Organizations. 1963-1988
Sub-subseries 3: Individuals, Organizations, and Topics, 1972-1985
Subseries C: Communist Party, USA Publications, 1925-2002

Series IX: Individuals, 1907-2002
Subseries A: Personal Papers, 1907-2002
Subseries B: Manuscripts, 1938-2000

Series X: General Files, 1892-2009
Subseries A: Activists and Organizations Subject Files, 1918-2009
Subseries B: Biographical Files on Communist Activists and Leaders, 1916-1999
Subseries C: Phil Bart Clippings, 1936-1970
Subseries D: Middle East Clippings, 1951-1972
Subseries E: Subject Files of Jim West, 1956-2003
Subseries F: Subject Files of National Office, 1920-2001
Subseries G: Organizational Files of National Office, 1982-2009
Subseries H: Freedom of Information Act Files, 1960-1978

Series XI: Broadcasts and Public Events, 1954-1999
Subseries A: Forums, Meetings, and Lectures, 1954-1999
Subseries B: Public Events and Rallies, 1964-1995
Subseries C: Celebrations and Special Events, 1956-1999
Subseries D: Broadcasts, 1985-1993
Subseries E: Radio and Television, 1962-1993

Series XII: Graphics and Artifacts, 1910-2009
Subseries A: Photographs by Topic, 1910s-2000s
Subseries B: Posters, 1898-2006
Subseries C: Buttons, 1920s-2000s
Subseries D: Artifacts and Memorabilia, 1924-2009

Series XIII: Collected Film and Audio Library
Subseries A: Songs and Audio, 1972-1995
Subseries B: Films, 1935-1995
Subseries C: Videos, 1972-2000

Series XIV: Archived Websites

Scope and Content

The records of the Communist Party, USA provide vivid documentation of the organization's trajectory from its birth in 1919 to the early 2000s. The collection includes a diverse mix of correspondence, convention and conference materials, essays and manuscripts, internal discussion documents, reports, speech transcripts, research files, printed ephemera, clippings, legal documents, audio and video recordings, graphics, and a wealth of personal papers. Though materials from as early as 1892 can be found in the collection, the bulk of the records were created between 1950 and 1990.

The lack of a substantial amount of material from the earlier half of the 20th century can be explained by understanding the history of the CPUSA and its documentary record. Researchers should note that the majority of the CPUSA's earliest records were deposited in Moscow for safekeeping beginning in the 1920s when Communist parties throughout the world feared seizure of their records by law enforcement authorities. In 1998 the Library of Congress and the Russian State Archive of Social and Political History (RGASPI) entered into an agreement to microfilm the records of the Comintern and Communist Party, USA (1919-1938) and make them accessible through IDC Publishers. A copy of this microfilm is available at Tamiment (Files of the Communist Party of the USA in the Comintern Archives, 1919-1943, Microfilm R-7548).

The microfilm provides access to many of the organization's earliest records, while the CPUSA archival records (TAM 132) focus heavily on the later aspects of the Communist Party's history: World War II, the Cold War, the McCarthy period, the New Left, and the post-New Left years. They also fill some gaps in the microfilm collection, such as founding documents from the 1919-1921 period, records describing its first convention, various drafts of political action platforms, materials from the Communist International, and documents relating to underground activities during the post-World War I Red Scare. Together, the RGASPI microfilm and the CPUSA records (TAM 132) provide a comprehensive portrait of communism in the United States.

The value and significance of the CPUSA records can be attributed to two dominant themes in the collection: information on its organizational structure and evidence of its work in a variety of social movements.

The collection provides a detailed look at how the Party was organized and how it functioned. A considerable amount of information about strategy, tactics, and organizational structure is accessible via correspondence, internal discussion documents, public distribution materials, memorandums, and reports. These materials offer a window into the Party's decision making process, internal communication networks, the ways it operated as a bureaucratic entity, and how these processes changed over time. The administrative records of several of the Party's leaders—Gus Hall, Jarvis Tyner, Sam Webb, and Carl Winter, to name a few—as well as many robust files from national conventions and national bodies, shed light on a wide range of processes. Correspondence, discussion documents, and resolutions illustrate how the priorities of leadership were developed and contributed to shaping the Party platform. Files originating from commissions, departments, schools, and youth organizations detail methods employed to attract, educate, and mobilize membership across the nation. They also supply a record of how those methods evolved during the course of the century in response to the changing needs and priorities of the working class and oppressed. Materials from the Party's national conventions show a progression in how Party initiatives were developed. They offer insight into how discussion among Party members was conducted and then built into a consensus as a result of those discussions. Recordings of meetings and conventions further provide documentation of the ways in which Party members engaged in debates and shaped policies over the years. Articles, essays, speech transcripts, and other writings produced by members for a variety of publications and forums provide further evidence of how information was refined for dissemination among the organization and a broader working class audience. Many of those writings are found in Series VIII: Publications and Series IX: Individuals.

The records also offer a compelling narrative of the CPUSA's participation in many major social and cultural movements as they occurred across the country. The role the Party played in the struggle for workers' rights, civil rights, international peace, and social welfare for both urban and rural citizens is extensively documented in the collection, most often by means of correspondence, resolutions, reports, or an individual's personal papers. Participation in these movements can also be seen in the Party's collected graphics, posters, and buttons. The participation of many prominent African Americans in the Party's civil rights and workers' rights efforts is richly illustrated via correspondence, research files, speeches, resolutions, and internal reports. A few examples of this include the writings of William Patterson, Head of International Labor Defense; correspondence and campaign materials from Benjamin Davis, the Communist Councilman from Harlem and James W. Ford, Head of the Harlem Club and 1932, 1936 and 1940 vice presidential candidate; the administrative and personal papers of Henry Winston, National Chairman from 1966-1986; and the personal papers of Paul Robeson, actor, singer, and activist. A sizeable amount of printed ephemera provides evidence of the Party's efforts to fight legal segregation, build a racially integrated union movement, and mobilize support for anti-lynching legislation. The majority of these records can be found in Series I: National Administrative Records, Series IX: Individuals, and Series XII: Graphic and Artifacts.

As the century progressed, the CPUSA continued to make civil rights for minorities a priority. This is evidenced in numerous items in the collection that date from the whole of the organization's lifespan: Party platforms, election materials, resolutions and reports from the national office, articles and essays prepared for publication in Party literature, correspondence and meeting minutes from national commissions, district conference materials, and club discussion documents. The content of pre-convention discussion documents and national convention materials often focuses on details and localized concerns; therefore, they may prove particularly useful for understanding the Party's various initiatives on minority issues. The Party's considerable interest in the efforts in the 1970s to free Angela Davis from imprisonment are also well documented, as is the CPUSA's relationships with the Black Panther Party and other black nationalist organizations.

Material from the Party's earliest years is sparse. However, records that are available are generally of great historical significance, such as documents which detail the birth of the Party and its first tumultuous years as it suffered from in-fighting and factionalism. Documentation of the Party's efforts to educate Party members, youth, and the working class through Workers Schools in the 1920s through the 1940s provides robust evidence of how leadership translated Party ideology into succinct and basic ideas for a diverse audience. Election platforms and campaign literature from the same time period are similarly useful for this purpose.

Records become more substantial in volume beginning in the 1930s through the 1940s. Discussion documents, public distribution materials, reports, and resolutions provide evidence of the Party's work organizing farm workers, factory workers, students, and youth, as well as its support of the unemployed. They also illustrate the role the CPUSA played in the industrial union movement. Other records from the 1940s document the Party's response to Stalin's "move to left," signaled by the April 1945 letter from French Communist Jacques Duclos, and the expulsion of Earl Browder.

Because administrative records created by the Party during the first half of the 20th century are not comprehensively represented in this collection, the personal papers of individual CPUSA members or individuals associated with the Party may be useful in filling out a portrait of the organization during this time period. Though the majority of these personal papers tend to focus on an individual's experiences outside the Party, they do serve to show how Party ideology carried over into all aspects of a member's life. The literary writings of David Gordon, professional work from Lewis Moroze's career in education, the prison correspondence of Henry Winston, Spanish Civil War dispatches from Robert Minor, and memorabilia from the life-long activism of Lottie Gordon and Mary Gale all provide vivid illustrations of communist principles put into practice. Personal papers also include photographs, which touch on the Party involvement as well as personal lives of Party members.

Legal records, found in Series VII: Trials and Legal Records, form the bulk of materials from the 1950s. They mostly document the persecution of Communists during the McCarthy period. Official court records, testimonies, and news clippings from the Smith Act trials are strongly represented; many of these files are supplemented by records from the Communists' defense attorneys. These trials resulted in the jailing of most of the Communist Party's top leadership including Joseph Brandt, Eugene Dennis, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Gus Hall, William Schneiderman, and Robert Thompson. Other files demonstrate the Party's involvement and interest in many court trials which dealt with issues of communist persecution, such as the Rosenberg case, or with racial discrimination and injustice, such as the Scottsboro case.

Party initiatives concerning youth and international peace efforts are captured most fully in Series V: Affiliated and Allied Organizations. These records mostly derive from the 1960s and 1970s. Materials created by youth organizations affiliated with the CPUSA, such as the Young Communist League and the W.E.B. Du Bois Clubs of America, demonstrate the participation of a younger generation of activists in CPUSA dialogue concerning international conflicts, employment issues, and national elections. Records from the National Coordinating Center in Solidarity with Chile, formed in the aftermath of the 1973 coup d'etat which overthrew the socialist government of Salvador Allende, reflect the Party's deep commitment to supporting human rights at an international scale.

Records documenting the Party's electoral activities at the national, state, and local levels derive from the late 1930s through the 1980s; however, most of these records originate from Gus Hall's four candidacies for U.S. President in the 1970s and 1980s, first with Jarvis Tyner and then with Angela Davis as Hall's running mates. There are also many files from the regional and local campaigns of Party members; most of these focus on New York State and City races during the 1970s and 1980s.

The CPUSA's national headquarters were re-located from Chicago to New York City in the late 1920s; as a result, there is a strong focus on Party activities in New York City and its surrounding areas in this collection. This is clearly reflected in Series II: States and Districts which is largely devoted to the New York State District and the records of its one-time head, Jarvis Tyner. This series, which includes many files from New York City neighborhood clubs, offers considerable detail on Party work at the local level; meeting minutes and correspondence reflect a concentration on localized issues like urban housing and public transit.

Materials created by commissions and departments are useful resources for understanding the Party's primary initiatives during the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Files documenting the work of the History Commission reflect a greater focus on the historical accomplishments of the CPUSA as members explored ways to attract a new generation of activists. Meeting minutes and correspondence, which document the creation of the Reference Center for Marxist Studies, demonstrate the founders' intentions to serve as a resource for Party members, scholars, activists, and the working class. The preservation and accessibility of many of items of historical value in this collection can be credited to the History Commission and the RCMS founders. Course outlines, Party literature, and recruitment guides from the National Education Department and the New York District Education Department show a continued emphasis on informing and training the rank and file despite the diminished size of the Party.

Administrative records from the national office, some files from districts and clubs, and materials from the 25th National Convention give evidence of the internal schism that formed during the 1990s as the Party divided over its response to Glasnost. Included are some documents that detail the decision of many members to leave the CPUSA to form the Committee of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism. Despite a severe drop in membership, the collection reflects an active membership throughout the 1990s. Correspondence, memorandums, reports, and resolutions from the national office, the New York District, and various commissions and departments show the Party maintained its focus on advocating for the working class, working towards equal rights for racial and ethnic minorities and women, and promoting international peace. With the rise of environmentalism in the 1980s and 1990s, the CPUSA joined in global efforts to protect the environment; this new focus is reflected in Party literature and directives.

The collection contains approximately 5500 audio cassette tapes, audio reels, films, video cassette tapes, and video reels documenting Communist Party meetings, conventions, public appearances, events, and broadcasts. Approximately 1000 of these recordings document the proceedings of official Party bodies including Central Committee and National Committee meetings and discussions from National Party Conventions. Other recordings document the intellectual discussions and public activism of the Party, including lectures, symposia, courses on Marxism and communist theory, May Day demonstrations, rallies, and special celebrations. Recordings are largely contained on media produced in the 20th century and predominantly document events between the 1970s and 1990s, although some reels are dated as early as the 1950s. An additional 600 audio and video tapes contain recordings of Communist Party programs created for radio and television, and include Chairman Gus Hall's weekly radio address Update, and the television programs People Before Profits and Changing America. The collection also contains over 400 film reels, which consist of exhibition prints and amateur films. The bulk of the exhibition films feature collected documentaries from the Soviet Union and other communist nations, while amateur footage documents events like May Day rallies and Youth Festivals. Graphic materials and artifacts consist of hundreds of buttons, posters, photographs, and artifacts documenting the Communist Party's support for a wide variety of political movements throughout 20th century. A collection of several hundred buttons document the Communist Party's support of campaigns related to civil rights, peace movements, nuclear-disarmament, and environmentalism as well as its own political campaigns. Posters likewise document the Party's interest in political issues in the United States and abroad. While some of these materials were produced by the Party for specific campaigns, the majority were collected and reflect the wide array of topics of interest to the Party.

An additional 11 boxes were added to the collection in 2018. This accretion largely contains video recordings of the Communist Party television program Changing America, and tapes of Communist Party rallies and speeches. Changing America tapes include both Master and Dub copies recorded on DV Cam tapes. Other videos are recorded on U-matic, VHS, and 2-inch open reel. The accretion also includes administrative files of the Young Communist League, which include pamphlets and ephemera from youth festivals, National Convention organizing files, drafts and articles from the publication Dialog, a small amount of correspondence. Young Communist League files also include several CD-R, DVD-R, and floppy disks containing digital images, administrative files, presentations, reports, articles, and discussion drafts dated from 1996 to 2009. A small amount of files from the office of Arnold Becchetti are also included in this accretion and consist of personal notes, correspondence, drafts of essays and articles, as well as national party meeting agendas and reports. There is also small amount of collected memorabilia such as certificates, portraits, a portfolio of photographic reproductions of Bulgarian communist leader Georgi Dimitrov; and three audio recordings of Communist Party meetings.



Libraries and communism -- United States.; Communism -- United States.; Communism -- United States -- History -- 20th century.; Communism -- Spain -- History.; Communism -- Soviet Union.; Communism -- New York (State).; Communism -- New York (State) -- New York; Communism -- Cuba.; Communism -- China.; Communism -- California.; Communism -- History.; Communism and music -- United States.; Communism and literature -- United States.; African American communists; African Americans and labor unions; Party discipline -- United States.; Newspaper publishing -- United States.; New Left -- United States.; Minorities -- Civil rights -- United States.; Marxism -- History.; May Day (Labor holiday) -- United States -- History.; Radicalism -- United States.; Race discrimination -- United States.; Sacco-Vanzetti Trial, Dedham, Mass., 1921.; Press, Communist -- United States.; Publishers and publishing -- United States.; Prisoners -- Correspondence.; Political prisoners -- United States.; Political cartoons -- United States.; Popular fronts -- United States.; Political campaigns -- New York (State) -- New York.; Political activists -- United States.; Socialist parties -- United States.; Socialism and youth -- United States.; Socialism -- History.; Socialism -- New York (State).; Socialism -- United States -- 20th century.; Scottsboro Trial, Scottsboro, Ala., 1931.; Social justice -- United States.; Socialism and education.; Women's rights -- United States.; Working class -- Education.; Working class -- United States.; Youth movements -- United States.; Women and communism -- United States -- History -- 20th century.; Women communists -- United States.; Women socialists -- United States.; Student movements -- United States.; Subversive activities -- United States.; Trials (Political crimes and offenses) -- United States.; Trotskyism.; Labor unions and communism -- United States.; Labor unions -- Political activity -- United States.; Labor unions and communism -- New York (State) -- New York.; Labor leaders -- United States.; Labor leaders -- New York (State); Journalism, Communist -- United States.; Jews -- Political activity -- United States.; Jewish radicals -- United States.; Jewish communists -- New York (State) -- New York.; Housing -- New York (N.Y.); Espionage, Soviet -- United States.; Elections -- United States -- History -- 20th century.; Elections -- New York (State) -- New York.; Communists -- United States -- Biography.; Communists -- United States -- Interviews.; Communist trials -- United States.; Communism and education -- New York (State); Communism and art -- United States.; Communism and culture -- United States.; Cold War.; Civil rights movements -- United States.; African Americans -- Civil rights; Anti-communist movements -- United States.

Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restriction with the exception of a small amount of material that is not described in the finding aid. This material is restricted until 2037.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright (or related rights to publicity and privacy) for materials in this collection, created by the Communist Party of the United States of America, the Reference Center for Marxist Studies, and Longview Publishing company was not transferred to New York University. Permission to use materials must be secured from the copyright holder.

Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date; Communist Party of the United States of America; TAM 132; box number; folder number; Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, New York University.

To cite the archived websites in this collection: Identification of item, date; Communist Party of the United States of America; TAM 132; Wayback URL; Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives,, New York University.

Existence and Location of Originals

Passaic Textile Strike, Reel 5 (identified as reel CP 372) is a nitrate film that was transferred to the Library of Congress in 2006 for permanent deposit. A digital betacam copy exists within the collection.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Communist Party, USA Records were donated to the Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives by the Communist Party, USA in the summer of 2006. The records were part of a larger donation that included the library of the Reference Center for Marxist Studies and the photo morgue of the Daily Worker and Daily World. The collection was originally divided into multiple collections, which have since been reunited into the Communist Party, USA Records. The accession numbers associated with this collection include 2006.051, 2006.030, 2006.031, 2006.032, 2006.033, 2006.036, 2006.037, 2006.038, 2006.039, 2006.040, 2006.041, 2006.043, 2006.044, 2006.045, 2006.046, 2006.047, 2006.048, 2006.049, 2006.053, 2006.054, 2006.055, 2006.056, NPA.2006.105, 2007.014, and 2010.018.

Additional materials came in 2012 and 2013 from Roberta Wood. The accession numbers associated with these gifts are 2012.073 and 2012.081. A gift of Lewis Moroze's papers came in 2009. The accession number associated with this gift is 2009.019. Gerald Meyer sent two internal documents in 2006. The accession number associated with this gift is 2014.033. Materials found in the repository were added to the collection in 2014. The accession numbers associated with these materials are 2014.009 and 2014.031. Roberta Wood donated two folders of Jim West's files on the Central Review Commission. The accession number associated with this gift is 2014.148. One box containing 50 audio cassette tapes largely related to James Jackson was found in repository in 2017. The accession number associated with these materials is 2017.061.

Recordings from the Communist Party of the United States Audio Collection (TAM 132.001) were incorporated into this collection in 2017. The accession numbers associated with these materials are 2014.029 and 2014.109. Communist Party Non-Print materials were also added to the collection in 2017. The accession number associated with these materials are 2006.017, 2006.011, NPA.2006.037, NPA.2006.047, NPA.2006.050, NPA.2006.078, and NPA.2006.088. Accession numbers related ot the Communist Party of the United States Posters and Broadsides Collection (GRAPHICS 024), which was incorporated into this collection in 2017, are NPA.2009.009, 2011.117, and 2014.177. Roberta Wood sent an additional donation of Illinois state district records in March 2018. The accession number associated with this gift is 2018.046. An accretion of 11 boxes of video recordings, Young Communist League Records, and Arnolod Becchetti office files were donated by the CPUSA in 2018. The accession number associated with this gift is 2018.056. An accretion of 1 box of notebooks from the Illinois district and a manuscript written by Josh Wishenky was donated in September 2018; the accession number associated with this gift is 2019.060.,,,,,, and were initially selected by curators and captured through the use of The California Digital Library's Web Archiving Service in 2007-2009 as part of the Communism, Socialism, Trotskyism Web Archive. In November 2015, these websites were migrated to Archive-It. Archive-It uses web crawling technology to capture websites at a scheduled time and displays only an archived copy, from the resulting WARC file, of the website. In 2015, was selected by Timothy Johnson.,,,, and were selected in February 2023. The accession number associated with these websites is 2023.023. was added in March 2023. The accession number associated with this website is 2023.030. In May 2023, was added. The accession number associated with this website is 2023.047.

Audiovisual Access Policies and Procedures

Access to audiovisual materials in this collection is available through digitized access copies. Researchers may view an item's original container, but the media themselves are not available for playback because of preservation concerns. Materials that have already been digitized are noted in the collection's finding aid and can be requested in our reading room.


The Communist Party of the United States Audio Collection (TAM 132.001), which was incorporated into this collection in 2017, included 22 record cartons of original audiocassette and reel containers. Original containers held limited historical or contextual value and were deaccessioned. Information regarding the contents of recordings has been reproduced to the best degree possible in the finding aid.

One 3.5 inch floppy containing documents related to Bill Meyer's work for the People's Daily World and one 5.25 inch floppy labeled Gill Green.doc could not be preserved and were deaccessioned.

Additionally several VHS and Umatic video tapes containing off-air recordings of copyrighted television programs were deaccssioned.

Nomination petition from the 2018 accretion of Illinois state district records, which held limited research value, were sampled to provide examples of their content, but the bulk were deaccessioned.

Young Communist League financial records from a 2018 accretion were appraised out of the collection and destroyed. They included receipts, deposit slips, bank statements, dues records, invoices, and donation pledges dated 2004-2010. 9 video tapes containing copyrighted content and off-air recordings were also appraised out of the accretion and destroyed.

Take Down Policy

Archived websites are made accessible for purposes of education and research. NYU Libraries have given attribution to rights holders when possible; however, due to the nature of archival collections, we are not always able to identify this information.

If you hold the rights to materials in our archived websites that are unattributed, please let us know so that we may maintain accurate information about these materials.

If you are a rights holder and are concerned that you have found material on this website for which you have not granted permission (or is not covered by a copyright exception under US copyright laws), you may request the removal of the material from our site by submitting a notice, with the elements described below, to the

Please include the following in your notice: Identification of the material that you believe to be infringing and information sufficient to permit us to locate the material; your contact information, such as an address, telephone number, and email address; a statement that you are the owner, or authorized to act on behalf of the owner, of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed and that you have a good-faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law; a statement that the information in the notification is accurate and made under penalty of perjury; and your physical or electronic signature. Upon receiving a notice that includes the details listed above, we will remove the allegedly infringing material from public view while we assess the issues identified in your notice.

Separated Materials

Serials found in this collection were removed and individually cataloged. They are accessible via NYU's online catalog, BobCat. Pamphlets found in this collection were removed and added to the Reference Center for Marxist Studies Pamphlet Collection (PE 043). They are arranged by topic.

Related Material at the Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

See also the Communist Party of the USA Printed Ephemera Collection (PE 031)
Reference Center for Marxist Studies Pamphlet Collection (PE 043)
The Daily Worker and The Daily World Negatives Collection (PHOTOS 223.1)
The Daily Worker and The Daily World Photographs Collection (PHOTOS 223)
Communist Party of the United States of America Oral Histories (OH 065)
Jefferson School of Social Science Records and Indexes (TAM 005)
Files of the Communist Party of the USA in the Comintern Archives, 1919-1943 (Microfilm R-7548)
Central Control Commission records, CPUSA, ca.1929-1953 (Microfilm R-7821)
The Daily Worker, 1924-1958 (Microfilm R-7083)
The Daily World, 1972-1990 (Microfilm R-7084)

Researchers interested in the organizational files of the CPUSA should also consult the Daniel Rubin Papers (TAM 657). Rubin served as National Organizational Secretary of the Party, and his papers include additional Party administrative records not included in this collection.

See also the article by Michael Nash, Director of the Tamiment Library, "Communist History at the Tamiment Library" in American Communist History, Vol. 3, No. 2, 2004, for additional information on the library's holdings.


Bittelman, Alex. The Communist Party in Action. New York City: Workers Library Publishers, 1934.
Lovestone, Jay. The Party Organization. Chicago: Daily Worker Publishing Co., 1926.
Rubin, Daniel. How a Communist Club Functions. New York City: New Outlook Publishers, 1971.
The Constitution and By-laws of the Communist Party of the United States of America. New York City: Workers Library Publishers, 1938.
The Constitution of the Communist Party of the United States of America. New York City: The Communist Party, USA, 1957.
The Constitution of the Communist Party of the United States of America. New York City: The Communist Party, USA, 1983.
The Constitution of the Communist Party of the United States of America. New York City: The Communist Party, USA, 1987.
"Communist Party, USA." Encyclopedia of the American Left. Mari Jo Buhle, Paul Buhle and Dan Georgakas. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1992.
"Daily Worker (and Successors)." Encyclopedia of the American Left. Mari Jo Buhle, Paul Buhle and Dan Georgakas. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1992.

Collection processed by

Jillian Cuellar, Peter Filardo, Stephanie Bennett, Margaret Fraser, Nancy Ng Tam, Hester Goodwin Stanley, Maggie Schreiner, Daniel Reisner, Michelle Dean, and Hanan Ohayon (March 2012). Edited to include accessioned materials, May 2014

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2024-06-03 11:41:16 -0400.
Using Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language: English

Processing Information

Original folder titles were retained unless clarification was necessary or for the sake of consistency; however, the majority of these records were either loose or in unlabeled folders upon acquisition. Unless otherwise noted, arrangement of this collection was imposed by the archivist in the absence of original order.

The following collections were initially processed as discrete collections though they hold the same provenance as the rest of the Communist Party, USA records. They were integrated back into the collection according to the appropriate series or subseries. Their initial arrangement was retained.

Communist Party of the United States of America Poster and Broadside Collection (GRAPHICS.024)
Biographical Files on Communist Activists and Leaders (TAM 132.02)
W.E.B. Du Bois' A Soliloquy on Viewing my Life from the Last Decade of its First Century and Publishing Correspondence (TAM 132.03)
James W. Ford Papers (TAM 132.06)
Robert Minor Papers (TAM 132.07)
Joseph North Papers (TAM 132.08)
Paul Robeson Clippings and Printed Ephemera (TAM 132.09)
Charles Emil Ruthenberg: Letters from Rachele Ragozin (TAM 132.10)
General Subject Files: Organizations, Individuals, Topics (TAM 132.11)
Progressive Activists and Organizations Subject Files (TAM 132.12)
Jim West: 70 Years of Communist Activism: Memoirs (TAM 132.13)
Henry Winston Prison Correspondence and Miscellaneous Papers (TAM 132.14)
Lester Cole Correspondence (TAM 132.15)
Eugene Dennis Prison Letters (TAM 132.16)
Phil Bart Clippings Files (TAM 132.17)
Daily World Clippings Files (TAM 132.18)
Rose Baron, Letters Received (TAM 132.19)
Middle East Clippings Files (TAM 132.20)
Chile Solidarity Collection (TAM 132.22)
Lithuanian American Activity and Organizations (TAM 132.23)
William L. Patterson Correspondence and Writings (TAM 132.24)
W.E.B. Du Bois Photographs Collection (PHOTOS 238)

In 2017 a donation of Jim West files on the Central Review Commission were added to Subseries III.E: Central Review Commission.

In 2017 the following collections were incorporated into the CPUSA Records (TAM 132): Communist Party of the United States of America Audio Collection (TAM 132.001), Communist Party of the United States of America Poster and Broadside Collection (GRAPHICS.024), and the Communist Party of the United States Non-Print Collection (TAM 132.003). Recordings in TAM 132.001 were previously arranged roughly by format. Many recordings from TAM 132.001 were incorporated into the existing arrangement of the CPUSA Records (TAM 132), while others were added to new series, Series XI: Broadcasts and Pubic Events and Series XIII: Collected Films and Audio Library. Posters in GRAPHICS.024 have been added to Series XII: Graphics and Artifacts as Subseries XII.B: Posters. Videos, photographs, films, and artifacts in the Communist Party Non-Print Collection (TAM 132.003), were previously unprocessed and had little discernable order. Select photographs and videos have been incorporated into existing series in the collection where it was possible to identify original function or creator, while the bulk have been arranged into new Series XI: Broadcasts and Public Events, Series XII: Graphics and Artifacts, and Series XIII: Film and Video Library.

Files related to the Central Review Commission were originally established as Series XI. These files have been integrated into Series III: Commissions and Departments as Subseries III.E to better reflect the department's function within the Party.

Film reels were assigned CP numbers and audio reels were assigned CPA numbers when the collection was initially inventoried in 2009. When films were processed in 2017, CP numbers were retained as the primary identifier for each item. Audio reels which were originally processed as part of TAM 132.001 in 2011 and were assigned new reel numbers. When the collection was incorporated in to TAM 132 in 2017, the new reel numbers were used to identify film reels at the item level, but CPA numbers were also retained to provide additional identifying indicators.

Audiovisual materials that have been selected for preservation inspection or digitization are identified by component unique identifier (cuid) numbers at the item level. Access copies of digitized recordings are listed at the item level.

In 2018 an accretion of records from the Illinois state district records were added to Subseries II.A: States and Districts.

An accretion of 11 boxes of video tapes, Young Communist League Files, and Arnold Becchetti office files were added to the collection in 2018 as boxes 475-485. Video tapes have been inventoried at the item level and incorporated into the arrangement of the collection. Young Communist League files are described in general categories and added to Subseries V.C: Youth Organizations as Young Communist League Accretion. Born-digital records included among these materials have been inventoried, but have not been forensically imaged. Arnold Becchetti files have been added to Subseries I.F: Staff Files. These materials are in the order in which they were received by the donor.

In 2021, narrative description was edited in the historical note to more accurately describe the forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. Select creator-supplied titles containing harmfully euphemistic language regarding Japanese American incarceration during WWII were identified in this collection, but have been retained to convey important contextual information regarding time and place in which the documents and titles were created.

Researchers can access previous versions of the finding aid in our GitHub repository at

In 2023, updated information about the archived websites and additional archived websites were added to the finding aid.,,,,,, and were initially crawled in the Communism, Socialism, Trotskyism Web Archive. In 2017, crawling in this collection ceased and and were restarted in the Communisty Party, USA Web Archive in 2015. In 2022, the above URLs in the Communism, Socialism, Trotskyism Web Archive were shared into the the Communisty Party, USA Web Archive for access and replay purposes.

Revisions to this Guide

February 2017: Edited by Heather Mulliner to include Jim West files from 2014 accession
October 2017: Edited by Heather Mulliner to reflect incorporation of audio/visual and photographic materials
May 2018: Edited by Heather Mulliner to include 2018 accertion
April 2019: Edited by Rachel Searcy to reflect 2018 accretion
January 2021: Edited by Amy C. Vo to change legacy description about the forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II
May 2021: Edited by Rachel Mahre to reflect that some films have been digitized and are accessible to patrons
July and December 2021: Edited by Rachel Mahre to reflect that some audio materials have been digitized and are accessible to patrons
November 2021: Edited by Anna Björnsson McCormick to correct the spelling of Lydia Gibson Minor's name and to reflect that materials relating to her were interfiled with those relating to Robert Minor.
February 2022: Updated by Lyric Evans-Hunter to reflect the relocation of materials offsite, and the digitization of film materials
May 2022: Updated by Anna Björnsson McCormick to correct the spelling of Samuel Neuburger's name.
November 2022: Updated by Rachel Mahre to reflect that some audio materials have been digitized and are accessible to patrons
January 2023: Updated by Lyric Evans-Hunter to further describe digitized audio materials
January 2023: Updated by Rachel Mahre to reflect that some audio materials have been digitized and are accessible to patrons
June 2023: Updated by Nicole Greenhouse to include updated administrative and descriptive information about the archived websites
April 2023: Updated by Maddie DeLaere describe digitized films and state that they are accessible to patrons
June 2023: Updated by Olivija Liepa to reflect that audio materials have been digitized and are accessible to patrons
December 2023: Updated by Anna Bjornsson McCormick to create instances for film preservation elements


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