Walter and Elizabeth Rogers Papers, 1939-1974

Summary Information
Title: Walter and Elizabeth Rogers Papers
Inclusive Dates: 1939-1974

  • Rogers, Walter
  • Rogers, Elizabeth Cousins
Call Number: Mss 377

Quantity: 1.6 c.f. (4 archives boxes)

Archival Locations:
Wisconsin Historical Society (Map)

Papers of Walter and Elizabeth Rogers, two longtime New Orleans social activists. The papers consist of correspondence, autobiographical and other writings, and collected leaflets and pertain to their activities in labor organizing, the Industrial Workers of the World, the Communist Party in Texas, civil rights work, and Vietnam protests, and to their work on behalf of victims of Hurricane Betsy.

Language: English

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Married in 1940, Walter and Elizabeth Rogers worked together for the next forty years on various radical causes. Residents of New Orleans after 1942, they concentrated on labor organizing and civil rights work. When their home in the Ninth Ward was destroyed by floods from Hurricane Betsy in 1965, they organized their neighbors, questioned the cause of the flooding, and fought for aid in rebuilding.

Referring to their work in the late 1960s-early 1970s as “street journalism,” they prepared leaflet compilations from radical and other sources and distributed them in Jackson Square and elsewhere. Urban renewal and the Vietnam War were main issues of concern in this period.

The Rogers also operated Victory Library, the name under which they distributed their writings. Besides leaflets and other ephemeral materials, these writings included the booklet Revolution: Left Out of Schoolbooks, about workers' movements not usually mentioned in history classes, and two autobiographies in novel form. John Donar: Common Man concerned Walter's life as a miner's son, a World War I soldier sent to Alcatraz in 1919 for deserting rather than breaking a miners' strike, a hobo, a laborer, a Wobbly, and a student at Commonwealth College where he met Elizabeth. Big Wheels Rolled in Texas presented an historical review of revolution and described their 1940-1942 experiences in Texas where they did labor organizing and where Elizabeth belonged to the Communist Party.

Familiar sights at New Orleans demonstrations, hearings, and speeches, the Rogers were a unique team in the activist movement.

Scope and Content Note

The Walter and Elizabeth Rogers Papers are arranged in three series: correspondence, writings, and a subject file containing leaflets, clippings, government documents, and letters. The papers contain information on their social activist activities and their backgrounds, particularly Elizabeth's.

The CORRESPONDENCE is divided in two parts. Chronological General Correspondence includes letters to the editor and correspondence with Elizabeth's sister and friends in New England, with old classmates from Smith College, Elizabeth's alma mater (class of 1913), with acquaintances in the Soviet Union, with publishers, and with other activists in New Orleans and elsewhere. Notable correspondents include Barbara Dane and Carl Haessler. Extensive Correspondence with All Points of View, a mail order book and subscription service run by John Stanfield in San Antonio, Texas, forms the second part of the series.

WRITINGS includes typescripts, published copies, and advertising leaflets for the Rogers' more substantive works, plus one folder of miscellaneous speeches and writings.

The SUBJECT FILE consists primarily of leaflets and includes many on the Vietnam War, the Betsy Flood Victims, and urban renewal. Materials from the 1940s and 1950s concern aid to French orphans and the sale of Tourlaque, a home owned by Elizabeth in southern France. One folder has information on a 1975 physical attack on Walter Rogers by security guards at the New Orleans Post Office.

Administrative/Restriction Information
Acquisition Information

Presented by Walter and Elizabeth Rogers, New Orleans, Louisiana, 1966-1975. Accession Number: M66-421, M70-171, M74-182, M74-460, M75-480

Processing Information

Processed by Kuncari Naswan and Joanne Hohler, 1976, and Karen Baumann, 1980.

Contents List
Series: Correspondence
Box   1
Folder   1-6
Box   2
Folder   1-2
Box   2
Folder   3-5
All Points of View, 1967-1972
Series: Writings
Box   2
Folder   6
Labor Journalism Handbook, 1940
Box   2
Folder   7
John Donar: Common Man
Box   2
Folder   8
Revolution: Left Out of Schoolbooks
Box   3
Folder   1
Big Wheels Rolled in Texas
Box   3
Folder   2
Miscellaneous Speeches and Writings, 1969-1974
Series: Subject File
Box   4
Folder   1
General Leaflets, 1946-1974
Box   4
Folder   2-3
Betsy Flood Victims, 1965-1974
Box   4
Folder   4
Black Panthers (re: Desire area), 1970
Box   4
Folder   5
French Orphans of the Resistance, 1951-1952
Box   4
Folder   6
Ninth Ward Nines, 1972
Box   4
Folder   7
Peace Action Center, 1968-1970
Box   4
Folder   8
Post Office Beating, 1975-1976
Box   4
Folder   9-10
Tourlaque, 1939-1956
Box   4
Folder   11
Urban Renewal, 1968-1970
Box   4
Folder   12-13