Staughton Lynd Papers, 1940-1977

Scope and Content Note

The papers record only a moderate portion of Lynd's career and activities. The emphasis is on the varied social movements and radical activities in which he participated. But even in these areas, only a modest amount of material has been preserved. The collection is arranged in series according to subjects. Within these broad subjects the arrangement is topical. The papers cover a fairly long time period, from the late 1950s to the mid-1970s, but most concentrate on the mid-1960s to the early 1970s. The collection is organized in 14 series.

The first series, JOHN W. ANDERSON WRITINGS, 1969-1971, consists primarily of the writings of a militant in the United Auto Workers, his correspondence with Lynd, and a transcript of a lengthy oral history interview that Anderson gave in 1960. Lynd helped Anderson write his autobiography and to revise it for publication. The autobiography was never published, but the edited and original manuscripts of it are preserved in the collection. This segment also contains various other articles Anderson wrote and sent to Lynd for his revision.

Although CAMPUS PROTESTS, 1968-1972, consists chiefly of clippings, newspapers, and private circulars which Lynd collected on protest movements which occurred on various university campuses in Chicago, there is a substantial amount of material from other universities, such as Indiana University where Lynd ran as a mock candidate for chancellor. These papers illustrate the unrest on some university campuses, but Lynd himself does not figure prominently in any of the material. An exception is a tape recording in this series; the recording is a speech Lynd made on the University of Wisconsin campus in 1972 during a labor teach-in.

The CHICAGO RED SQUAD FILE, consists of records maintained by the “Red Squad” section of the Chicago Police Department on the activities of Lynd and his father. The file was released to Lynd because of a law suit brought by the Better Government Association to make public certain records of police intelligence. It dates from 1940 to April 1977, when the material was presented to Lynd.

The CIA FILE was compiled by the Central Intelligence Agency on the activities of Lynd from February 1963 to October 1967. The CIA released only part of the file to Lynd in accordance with the federal Freedom of Information Act. Nevertheless, it records a large number of Lynd's political activities. It consists of Xeroxed copies of clippings, articles, and staff reports.

The series CIVIL RIGHTS contains mainly clippings and printed material which Lynd collected while participating in the civil rights movement in the South in the early 1960s. It dates from 1958 to 1965, but concentrates on the middle years of this period. There is some material for the areas in which Lynd was active, such as Mississippi, but little that specifically records his activities. Photographs include images related to Freedom Schools in Indianola and Meridian, Miss., 1964, including images of students, a construction project, and convention.

The JOIN series, 1965-1967, documents the agitation of Jobs or Income Now (JOIN), a group which sought to organize poor people in Chicago on the community level. An offshoot of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), the organization was one of several similar local organizing projects founded by SDS. JOIN concentrated upon the Uptown slum neighbor-hood abounding with white immigrants from the South, Puerto Ricans, and Indians. Its goal was to bring temporary relief to the immediate problems of these people and to raise their awareness of the deeper causes of slum conditions. The records are fairly complete and include extensive correspondence, financial records, printed material, newsletters, and documents. Lynd is not prominently mentioned in this series.

The series KENNEDY ASSASSINATION, 1963-1964, reflects Lynd's interest in the matter and contains articles that he collected on the subject, his own articles, and his correspondence with others who shared his scepticism that Lee Harvey Oswald had acted as the lone assassin.

Lynd's interest in social action on the local level is recorded in the series LOCAL ORGANIZING--CHICAGO/GARY, 1967-1972. It pertains mainly to his local activities when he lived in the Chicago area in the early 1970s. His main concerns were encouraging unionization, especially of public employees, and aiding local people to gain more community control over institutions that affected their daily lives. The series also contains printed material which Lynd collected during the 1968 Democratic Convention and historical material on the local area. The latter reflects the connection which radicals made between understanding the past and their agitation to change present conditions.

The MASS PARTY ORGANIZING COMMITTEE series, 1973-1975, contains some records of an organization with which Lynd was in contact in 1973 and 1974. The Committee was attempting to formulate a mass working-class party based on the theories of Lenin. Lynd rejected the group as being undemocratic, but still engaged in discussions with the committee on the viability of their proposals. The records in the series are mainly his correspondence with the committee and various printed materials which the committee sent to him.

The series, NEW AMERICAN MOVEMENT, 1971-1975, contains the records which Lynd collected and produced while a member of the New American Movement (NAM). This organization, founded in 1971, sought to build a mass-based democratic socialist movement in the United States that would draw its main support from working-class people rather than from students. Lynd was one of the chief promoters of NAM in the five-month formative period before its first national convention in November 1971 which founded a tentative national organization and adopted a set of priority programs. Lynd was elected to the thirteen-member national interim committee, established at the convention to serve in an advisory role until the organization could hold a formal founding convention. Although Lynd remained active in NAM throughout its early years there was growing disillusionment among many of its other supporters. The series contains a variety of material which NAM produced, printed material, bulletins, newsletters, and records which show the personal involvement of Lynd in the organization, such as correspondence and material from local chapters.

The PROPERTY TAX AGITATION series documents Lynd's desire to redress inequality in the tax structure, especially on the local level. It contains material which Lynd collected on the topic: clippings, the Property Tax Newsletter, printed material, and research material. Lynd corresponded with others to promote his ideas and often wrote on the subject of tax reform. His correspondence and some of his writings are included in the series. Most of the records date from the early 1970s. In addition, the series contains publications of the Writer's Workshop, a non-profit organization in Gary, Indiana, with which Lynd associated, that frequently produced pamphlets on the abuses of the tax structure.

The efforts of Lynd to influence from a Leftist perspective the American historical profession is evidenced in the series, RADICAL CAUCUS IN THE AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION (AHA). The candidacy of Lynd for the presidency of the American Historical Association (AHA) in 1969 is shown especially well here. Although the radical caucus developed momentum prior to 1969, most of the material in the series dates just before the convention and then after it to 1975. Correspondence that Lynd had with others who shared his views comprises the major part of this segment, but it also contains newsletters and other publications of the radical caucus or individual members.

The RADICAL ORAL HISTORY series, 1969-1975, attests to Lynd's interest in promoting the study of history from a radical perspective and in preserving oral transcripts of the experiences of the lower class. Included in the series are primarily correspondence of Lynd with others who were interested in oral history and the manuscripts that he collected from these individuals.

The efforts of Lynd and his wife Alice to publish Rank and File, a book about ordinary members of trade unions, are preserved in the RANK AND FILE series, 1971-1973, undated It contains material generated in the various stages of the production of the book, including manuscript source material and notes. Some of the personal histories of the workers in this series were not published. There is also a fairly extensive collection of correspondence recording the attempts of the Lynds to publish their book and to find and gather material from suitable subjects.

The final series, VIETNAM ANTIWAR MOVEMENT, 1964-1970, consists of the records that Lynd produced or gathered in his long period of opposition to American involvement in the Vietnam war. Most of the series is printed material which Lynd collected from various antiwar movements. Some clippings and correspondence, relate to Lynd's Hanoi trip and the legal and political problems that followed it.