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James S. Allen Papers

Call Number



1920-1994, inclusive
; 1945-1970, bulk


Allen, James S.
Auerbach, Jesse (Role: Donor)


8 Linear Feet
in 6 record cartons, 2 manuscript boxes, and 2 folders in a flat-file drawer.

Language of Materials

Materials are in English, with a small amount of material in Spanish


James S. Allen, born Sol Auerbach (1906-1986), was an organizer, Marxist scholar, writer and editor for the Communist Party, USA. He was a doctoral candidate in philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania and was in the first American student delegation to the Soviet Union. In 1928, he joined the Communist Party and began writing for the Daily Worker. He was a leading party organizer in the south in the early 1930s, and edited the Labor Defender and Southern Worker. In the late 1930's, he travelled to the Phillippines where he helped to arrange the merger of the socialist and Communist parties. His books include: The Negro Question in the United States (1936), Atomic Energy and Society (1949), and Organizing in the Depression South: A Communist's Memoir (2001). From 1962 to 1972, Allen also headed International Publishers, the CPUSA publishing house. The collection includes his correspondence, Communist Party documents, photographs, and scrapbooks.

Historical/Biographical Note

James S. Allen (1906-1986), an organizer, Marxist scholar, writer and editor for the Communist Party, USA, was born Sol Auerbach in Philadelphia in 1906, the year his parents, Jacob and Luba, who were Russian Jewish radicals, came to the U.S. A doctoral candidate in philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania, he traveled in 1927 with the first American student delegation to the Soviet Union. In 1928 he was expelled from college for his radical activities, joined the Communist Party and began writing for the Daily Worker, and edited the Labor Defender. In 1930, he took the pen name by which he became known and, with his wife Isabelle, founded and edited the Southern Worker, the first Communist weekly published in the South, which was circulated on an underground basis. As a member of the Party's Southern District committee, Allen played a prominent role in all of the CPUSA's major regional activities during the early 1930s; the organizing of Alabama sharecroppers, the Harlan, Kentucky miners' strike and the Scottsboro case.

Three books by Allen, The Negro Question in the United States (1936), Reconstruction: The Battle for Democracy (1937), and American Communism and Black Americans (with Philip Foner, 1987), reflect his political concerns and southern experiences. By 1931, the strain of underground political work caused Allen to leave the South. In the late 1930s he was CPUSA representative in the Philippines, and a correspondent for The Nation (per a letter by editor Max Lerner), where he helped obtain the release of Communist prisoners and helped achieve the merger of the Communist and Socialist Parties. He served as foreign editor of the Daily Worker until being drafted in 1944.

During the Cold War years, he served as foreign editor of the Sunday Worker and was compelled to appear as a witness before the House Un-American Activities Committee. During the years 1958-1966, Allen was the secretary of the Party's National Program Committee, which was charged with developing a new program for the CPUSA, and he authored the initial drafts of the program, which was not published until 1970, and corresponded with prominent communists including Herbert Aptheker, William Z. Foster, John Howard Lawson, Pettis Perry and Al Richmond. From 1962 to 1972 Allen headed International Publishers, the CPUSA publishing house, having assisted his predecessor Alexander Trachtenberg, over the previous decades. He later served as U.S. editor of the Collected Works of Marx and Engels, a joint undertaking with English and Soviet publishers, corresponding with the British Marxist philosopher Maurice Cornforth. Allen also wrote several polemical books and pamphlets, including Atomic Energy and Society (1949), which elicited a signed letter from Albert Einstein, and several unpublished manuscripts, including a memoir titled "Visions and Revisions," a portion of which was posthumously published as Organizing in the Depression South: A Communist's Memoir (2001).

James Allen Bibliography : Books & Pamphlets

American Communism and Black Americans : A Documentary History, 1919-1929, edited by Philip S. Foner and James S. Allen (Philadelphia : Temple University Press, 1987), 235 p.The American Negro (New York : International Pamphlets, 1932), 31p.Atomic Energy and Society (New York, International Publishers, 1949), 95 p.Atomic Imperialism: The State, Monopoly, and the Bomb (New York, International Publishers, 1952), 288 p.The Cartel System, (New York : International Publishers, c1946), 32 p.Conference on Managed Economy, The Cold War and the Developing Economic Crisis, 1949: Jefferson School of Social Science, New York, The economic crisis and the cold war; reports, edited by James S. Allen and Doxey A. Wilkerson, with an introductory essay by William Z. Foster (New York, New Century Publishers, 1949), 113 p.The Crisis in India, (New York : Workers Library Publishers, 1942), 31 p.Disarmament and the American Economy : A Symposium, James S. Allen, et al, edited by Herbert Aptheker (New York : New Century Publishers, 1960), 64 p. The Economic Crisis and the Cold War, edited by James S. Allen and Doxey A. Wilkerson: with an introductory essay by William Z. Foster (New York: New Century Publishers, 1949), 113 p.The Lessons of Cuba, (New York : New Century Publishers, 1961), 31 p.Marshall Plan : Recovery or War, (New York : New Century Publishers, 1948), 64 p. Negro Liberation, (New York : International Publishers, 1938), 46 p. The Negro Question in the United States (New York, International Publishers, 1936), 224 p..The Negroes in a Soviet America (New York : Workers Library Publishers, 1935), 46 p. By James W. Ford and James S. Allen. On Democratic Centralism : Name and Form, (S.l. : s.n., 19-), 6 p.Organizing in the Depression South : A Communist's Memoir, (Minneapolis, Minn.: MEP Publications, 2001), 145 p.The Philippine Left on the Eve of World War II, foreword by William Pomeroy, 2nd ed., (Minneapolis : MEP Publications, 1993), 167 p.The Radical Left on the Eve of War : A Political Memoir Quezon City, Philippines : Foundation for Nationalist Studies, 1985), 121 p. Reconstruction: The Battle for Democracy (1865-1876) (New York, International Publishers, 1937), 256 p.Smash the Scottsboro Lynch Verdict (New York : Workers Library Publishers, 1933), 16 p.Thomas Paine : Selections from his Writings, with an introduction, by James S. Allen (New York: International Publishers, 1937), 96 p.The United States and the Common Market (New York : New Century Publishers, 1962), 36 p.Who Owns America? (New York, New Century Publishers, 1946), pamphlet.World Cooperation for Post-War Prosperity (New York, New Century publishers, 1945), 63 p.World Monopoly and Peace (New York, International Publishers 1946), 288 p.

James Allen Bibliography : Articles

"America and neutrality," National issues: A survey of politics and legislation, 1 (1939), 13-16. "American imperialism and the war," Communism, 18 (1939), 1046-1053."The American road to Socialism," Political Affairs, 37 (1958), 8-27."Awakening in the cotton belt," New Masses, 8 (1932), 11-12."The black belt: area of Negro majority," Communist, 13 (1934), 581-599."Bretton Woods and world security," Communist, 23 (1944), 1078-1086."The Communist way out," Crisis, 42 (1935), 134-135. "Democratic revival and the Marxists," Masses & Mainstream, 8 (1955), 1-11. "Enlightened American imperialism in the Philippines," Political Affairs, 25 (1946), 526-540."The far eastern front in the war against the axis," Communist, 21 (1942), 143-162."Farm production for defense," Communist, 20 (1941), 910-916."The farmers and the struggle against the war program," Communist, 19 (1940), 628-648."Lenin and the American Negro," Communist, 13 (1934), 53-61."The Negro question," Political Affairs, 25 (1946), 1132-1150."The new state in the Far East," Political Affairs, 24 (1945), 441-447."The new war economy," Political Affairs, 27 (1948), 1055-1074."The Pacific front in the global war," Communist, 21 (1942), 1012-1020."The policy of anti-Soviet encirclement," Political Affairs, 26 (1947), 563-570. "Problems of foreign policy," Political Affairs, 36 (1957), 19-31."Prologue to the liberation of the Negro," Communist, 12 (1933), 147-170."The Scottsboro struggle," Communist, 12 (1933), 437-448."Some lessons of the fateful decade," Communist, 22 (1943), 258-265."The Soviet nations and Teheran," Communist, 23 (1944), 206-216."We can win in 1943," Communist, 22 (1943), 680-687."The world assembly at San Francisco," Political Affairs, 24 (1945), 291-301.

Allen wrote the initial draft for the following works, and played a leading role in the Communist Party's Program Committee, which was responsible for drafting them --

Communist Party of the United States of America, New program of the Communist Party, U. S.A.; a draft (New York, Political Affairs Publishers, 1966), 127 p.Communist Party of the United States of America, New program of the Communist Party U.S.A. (New York, New Outlook Publishers, 1970), 128 p.


The collection is organized into seven series:

Series I: Biographical and Correspondence
Series II: Communist Party, USA New Program Committee
Series III: FOIA Files
Series IV: Philippines
Series V: Subject Files
Series VI: Writings
Series VII: Scrapbooks and Charts

Folders are generally arranged alphabetically within each series. A portion of the correspondence is arranged chronologically.

Scope and Content Note

The collection documents James Allen's life-long involvement in the Communist Party, particularly his leadership of the National Program Committee and his work in the Philippines, in the form of correspondence, notes, research materials, photographs, minutes, drafts, and other materials. Manuscripts and typescripts document Allen's writing career, especially in regards to his autobiography and his works on politics and race relations in the South. The collection also includes biographical information on Allen and materials related to his early and personal life. A small amount of material was created or collected by Allen's wife, Isabelle Auerbach, and reflects her involvement with the Communist Party and other political causes.

Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright (and related rights to publicity and privacy) to materials in this collection created by James Allen 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; James S. Allen Papers; TAM 142; box number; folder number; Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, New York University.

Location of Materials

Most materials are stored offsite and advance notice is required for use. Please contact at least two business days prior to research visit.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by James S. Allen in 1982; addional materials were donated by Jesse Auerbach in 1986 and 2013. The accession numbers associated with this gift is 1982.009 and 2014.011.


Duplicates of Allen's biography for his memorial were removed from the 2014 accession.

Collection processed by

Peter Filardo and Elliot Silver, 2002. Edited by Rachel Schimke to reflect accession, 2014.

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2024-02-06 14:01:36 -0500.
Using Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language: Finding aid is in English

Processing Information

Materials from the 2014 donation were rehoused in archival boxes and folders. Some particularly brittle materials were placed in mylar.

Edition of this Guide

Allen Guide.wpd


Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
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