Walter and Elizabeth Rogers Papers, 1939-1974


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.