Peter Nemenyi Papers, 1952-1979

Scope and Content Note

The papers have been arranged in two series: Personal Papers and Correspondence, and Issues and Activities. Within PERSONAL PAPERS AND CORRESPONDENCE is found a small amount of Nemenyi's general personal correspondence and a few financial records, and correspondence with government officials regarding racial discrimination and other violations of civil rights laws, as noted by Nemenyi. The papers regarding civil rights matters are particularly valuable as they reveal both Nemenyi's views, and the events occurring in and near Laurel, Mississippi, in 1965 and 1966. Letters to and from Regina Fischer about her son, Bobby, the internationally known chess player, reveal that Paul Nemenyi was Bobby's father. At the time of Paul's death in 1952, Bobby was unaware of his relationship to Peter, and the correspondence deals with financial arrangements and the best way to break the news to Bobby. Letters from Gustav Heckmann are in German, and pertain to new books and translations.

The series ISSUES AND ACTIVITIES incorporates material, both created and collected by Peter Nemenyi, pertaining to his many interests. Much of the material from the 1960's deals with Mississippi, COFO and Peter's work with the Laurel chapter, self-help and improvement groups, elections and poll-watching, and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. Three folders contain his correspondence, notes and fliers regarding educational and job opportunities for young blacks. His papers from the institutions where he taught, as well as the file on the dismissal of Virginia State College Professor Filimon D. Kowtoniuk, reveal Nemenyi's political opinions and conflicts with administrators, but do little to illuminate his teaching career or professional work. The later papers in this series cover a wide range of liberal and radical subjects and issues. These generally pertain to his opposition to any form of political repression, and his support for the rights of minorities or oppressed peoples. Files on farm workers, prisoners, blacks, and Indians in the United States, and political prisoners in Chile, South Africa, and Zimbabwe/Rhodesia, are included. Nemenyi was an active member of various groups, as seen in his papers; among them were the American Statistical Association, Amnesty International, and Madison (Wisconsin) Student Coalition Against Racism. Newsclippings composed a large proportion of Nemenyi's records from the 1970's. Most of these were general articles from newspapers available at the Historical Library or University Archives, such as the New York Times, Milwaukee Journal, Madison Press Connection, Militant, and Daily Cardinal, and thus the original clippings have been discarded.