Morris Hillquit Papers, 1886-1944

Scope and Content Note

The earliest dated items in the Hillquit papers are photographs of Morris Hillquit and members of the Hillquit family. The remainder of the collection's nineteenth-century manuscripts consists almost entirely of personal letters from Hillquit and from Mrs. Hillquit's brother, Dr. Phoebus A. Levene. Levene, who shared an office with Hillquit in the 1890's, earned an international reputation in biochemistry and became head of that division of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research.

Almost two hundred letters written by members of the Hillquit and Levene families are scattered throughout the collection. Some are strictly personal, but the majority of letters, those written by Hillquit and his wife, contain detailed information about Hillquit's labor, legal, and socialist activities, and his cultural interests, particularly art collecting. They are an excellent source of information on Socialist Party conventions, National Executive Committee meetings, and International Socialist Congresses.

There is little information in the collection concerning the Socialist Labor Party's internal fights that resulted in the 1899 schism, although a letter from Hillquit to his wife on January 27, 1899, describes the arrival of delegates and the first day's proceedings at the Rochester Convention of the Socialist Labor Party. The bulk of the papers document Hillquit's activities after the turn of the century.

The contents of the collection are almost all available both in paper and on microfilm. The papers are arranged in five categories: Correspondence, Writings (both Morris's and Nina's), Photographs, Broadsides and Circulars, and Press Releases, Newspaper and Periodical Clippings. Correspondence is subdivided into General Correspondence, Condolence Correspondence, Loose Leaves Correspondence, Hillquit Correspondence from the Gorki Archives, and Congratulatory Correspondence on Hillquit's 60th Birthday. The correspondence is indexed by correspondent name in an appendix to this finding aid.

Socialist Unity, Growth and Conflict, 1900-1913

The papers for 1900 and 1901, particularly the letters from Job Harriman, William Mailly, Algie M. Simons, John C. Chase, and William Butscher, portray the intricacies of the unity movement between the Socialist Labor Party insurgents and the Social Democratic Party. After the two groups effected structural unification in 1901, ideological differences commanded the attention of the party leaders. The new Socialist Party of America divided into factions; state autonomy, immediate demands, ultimate goals, trade-union organization, and leadership became the chief issues in the intrigues and quarrels that characterized the party's history. Hillquit was a leader of the centrists, but he maintained close contact with members of the other factions, and consequently his correspondence reflects the diversity of views within the party.

The issue of state autonomy caused party factionalism between 1902 and 1905. Correspondence during this period--particularly the 1904 and 1905 letters from national secretary William Mailly, and the Milwaukee editor and socialist, Victor L. Berger--discusses the state autonomy controversy which culminated in the 1905 attempt to remove Berger from the National Executive Committee.

Socialist Party policy concerning trade unionism was a constant source of disagreement until World War I. Some socialists worked closely with the craft-organized American Federation of Labor; others supported the American Labor Union, which sought to organize on an industry-wide basis. Letters from Job Harriman after 1903 describe the relationship of the California socialists to the American Labor Union and the Union Labor Party. After the founding of the Industrial Workers of the World in 1905, there are scattered references to the IWW and to the activities of its leaders, William E. Trautman and William D. Haywood. A letter of February 2, 1907, from Charles 0. Sherman, IWW general president, outlines the history and philosophy of the union.

During the first decade of the twentieth century, Socialist Party members periodically considered unification with the Socialist Labor Party. A letter to Hillquit from Algernon Lee on September 7, 1904, and a letter to the International Socialist Bureau from Hillquit in October, 1908, discuss such a merger.

Between 1907 and 1912, American socialists debated the merits of reform or revolutionary socialism in party meetings, in the press, and on the platform. Some advocated achievement of the socialist state by peaceful transition; others favored violent revolution. Although Hillquit publicly defended party members who advocated lawbreaking or who committed acts of violence in the service of socialism, he supported constitutional political action as the only course applicable to American conditions. Among the papers are speeches he delivered at rallies in support of Charles Moyer, William D. Haywood, and James B. and John J. McNamara. Information on the McNamara case is also available in the correspondence, particularly in letters from Job Harriman, the 1911 Socialist Party candidate for mayor of Los Angeles. Other papers relating to the ideological discussions include most of the correspondence during this period, a copy of Hillquit's suggested party platform in 1908, newspaper articles, and drafts and transcripts of debates, including Hillquit's opening address in his 1912 debate with William D. Haywood on trade unionism.

Hillquit also defended the civil rights of radicals other than socialists. Correspondence and clippings in March, 1908, concern the case of Selig Silverman, a young anarchist accused of detonating a bomb in Union Square in New York City. A letter from Rosa Luxemburg of August 10, 1908, warns Hillquit about defending the anarchist.

At the Socialist Party National Convention in 1912, the selection of J. Mahlon Barnes as campaign manager resulted in a heated party controversy. The correspondence between June and August of that year pertains to a movement to recall Barnes.

Hillquit, like the majority of Socialist Party members, believed that education of the working class was imperative for attainment of the socialist state. Immediately after the founding of the party, he began speaking and writing activities designed to disseminate socialist propaganda and win converts to the party. Mostly in New York City, but also in other eastern cities, he presented the merits of socialism to both socialist and nonsocialist audiences. Drafts of his addresses and transcripts of many of his debates with party members and opponents of socialism are in the papers. The clippings include advertisements and reports of the debates and speeches. His first book, History of Socialism in the United States, was published in 1903 and subsequently translated into many other languages. Six years later he published Socialism in Theory and Practice, a brief exposition of socialist ideology. The papers for 1903 and 1909 contain letters thanking Hillquit for complimentary copies of his books and commenting upon his treatment of socialist history and ideology in America. A substantial number of book reviews are among the clippings.

In 1905, Hillquit, as co-trustee of the Carrie Rand estate, was instrumental in establishing the Rand School of Social Science. The founding and development of the Rand School are discussed in the 1905 and 1906 letters from William J. Ghent, first director of the school, the 1905 letters from John Spargo, and the 1906 correspondence with the French socialist Karl Kautsky. Almost every letter in the collection from George D. Herron, son-in-law of Mrs. Rand, and Algernon Lee, director of the school after 1909, contains information about the Rand School. Hillquit often lectured at the school, and invitations to speak and the transcripts of several of his lectures are among the papers.

To a large extent, the Socialist Party conducted its propaganda activities through the party press. Thus, selection of editors and business managers, editorial procedure, and finances are often subjects of the correspondence. There is information in the papers about the Jewish Daily Forward, the New York Call, the American Appeal, and the International Socialist Review. Hillquit acted as unofficial banker and treasurer for several of the publications and he often loaned money to journals that experienced financial difficulties. Correspondence from Benjamin Hanford, Algernon Lee, Job Harriman, William Mailly, and William J. Ghent indicates that Hillquit also loaned large sums of money to each of these men during their years of illness and inactivity.

Hillquit was first stricken with tuberculosis in 1912, and while he recuperated in Bermuda and Switzerland he wrote “Socialism, Promise or Menace?” with Father John A. Ryan. The papers for 1913 and 1914 include correspondence with Father Ryan, with the editors of Everybody's Magazine who commissioned and published the debate, and reviews of the debate as it appeared in book form.

Debates, speeches, and socialist writings reached a limited audience, whereas election campaigns reached the masses. Hillquit judged political campaigning to be the Socialist Party's most effective propaganda activity, and during his career he ran for many offices. In 1906, he conducted his first campaign for major office as the party nominee for New York's Ninth District congressional seat. Papers regarding this unsuccessful race include his opening speech, a campaign leaflet, and several newspaper clippings. One of Hillquit's supporters was Maxim Gorki, who was visiting America on a fund-raising tour for the Russian revolutionary movement. Gorki delivered several speeches and wrote a campaign appeal in support of Hillquit's candidacy. A draft of the appeal as well as the published circular are in the correspondence. As a result of Gorki's visit, he and Hillquit became close friends, and during the next two decades Hillquit acted as his American legal advisor and literary agent. The correspondence among Gorki, Hillquit, and Gorki's companion, Maria Andreeva Peskova, and the letters from Iwan Ladyschnikov and Raphael Rein Abramowitsch, officials of the Berlin-based agency which served exiled Russian revolutionary writers, are mostly concerned with Gorki's literary endeavors, but also include information about the Russian revolutionary movement.

In 1908, Hillquit again ran in the Ninth Congressional District. A speech, correspondence, and newspaper clippings document the campaign. Letters from Benjamin Hanford, the Socialist Party's vice-presidential nominee, contain caustic comments about the actions of Socialist Labor Party leader Daniel De Leon, who entered the race to prevent Hillquit's election. Hillquit did not run for office again until 1916, but speeches, campaign articles, and many requests for campaign assistance attest to his popularity as a speaker and campaigner for other Socialist Party candidates.

As a delegate to the International Socialist Congress at Hamburg in 1904, Hillquit met socialist representatives from all over the world who became friends and correspondents. After the Congress, Hillquit, as international secretary of the American Socialist Party, began receiving official communications from the International Socialist Bureau, and the international socialist movement is increasingly a topic of his correspondence. The papers also contain correspondence, credentials, reports, and clippings relating to the International Socialist Congresses at Stuttgart (1907) and Copenhagen (1910). A letter from Hillquit to his wife on August 30, 1910, depicts the attempt by the Socialist Party delegation to unseat Socialist Labor Party representative Daniel De Leon from the International Socialist Bureau.

In August, 1914, Morris and Vera Hillquit had set sail for Europe to attend the International Socialist Congress at Vienna when they received a telegram announcing indefinite postponement of the conference because of the war. Letters to the Hillquit children describe their last-minute return and their picture of Europe at the beginning of the war.

The War Years, 1914-1919

Almost immediately after the outbreak of war Hillquit embarked on a speaking and writing crusade designed to win converts to the anti-war movement as his propaganda activities had been designed to win converts to socialism a decade earlier. The correspondence and newspaper clippings document almost every phase of his wartime activities; the writings contain more than forty anti-war speeches, articles, and lectures, including drafts of several official party statements he prepared at the request of the National Executive Committee.

Early materials concerning the war include Hillquit's draft of a call for peace issued by the Socialist Party in September, 1914; a letter, September 21, 1914, to national secretary Walter Lanfersiek opposing an international socialist peace conference in Washington; correspondence with Lanfersiek and several European socialists about the Copenhagen conference of neutral socialists; and a telegram and letter from Henry Ford inviting Hillquit to join other representative Americans on a peace pilgrimage to Europe in 1915. Letters from George D. Herron, who spent the war years in Italy and Switzerland, are an excellent source of information on the effects of the war on the people of Europe. There is scattered correspondence with some European socialist leaders; however, the majority of European socialists supported the war efforts of their respective countries and did not correspond with Hillquit during the hostilities.

In early 1916, Hillquit, James H. Maurer, and Congressman Meyer London visited President Woodrow Wilson to present the Socialist Party's peace program. Information on the conference includes the notification of Hillquit's appointment to the presidential visitation committee on December 23, 1915, and an exchange of correspondence with Maurer in May, 1927.

The day following the United States declaration of war, the Socialist Party met in Emergency Convention in St. Louis for the purpose of formulating an official party position on the war. Letters from Mrs. Hillquit to Nina and Lawrence Hillquit, April 10 and April 12, 1917, describe the convention and Hillquit's work on the three-man subcommittee that wrote the St. Louis Manifesto. Another view of the work of the Emergency Convention is expressed in George D. Herron's letter of August 7, 1917: Herron opposed publication of the convention proceedings by the Rand School of Social Science, and labeled the manifesto pro-German and unrepresentative of the convictions of most American socialists.

Others agreed with Herron's indictment of the Socialist Party's war position, and during the following two years a number of prominent socialists resigned from the party. Although Hillquit continued to oppose the war and to defend the party's position, the correspondence and writings indicate the growing party factionalism caused by differing views of the war.

Three times Hillquit carried the war issue to the people. In 1916 and 1918 he was the Socialist Party nominee for the New York Twentieth District congressional seat; in 1917, he headed the party ticket as candidate for mayor of New York City. In each of these campaigns Hillquit's opponents and their supporters impugned his patriotism and labeled his anti-war position pro-German and treasonable. Correspondence, writings, broadsides, and newspaper clippings present the campaign issues of these races.

In June, 1917, Congress passed the Espionage Act. During the next two years prosecutions under this law handicapped the Socialist Party's peace activities. Most socialist publications were either detained by the Post Office Department or had their second-class mailing privileges revoked. There are references in the papers to these attacks on the press, including an address which Hillquit delivered at a Madison Square Garden rally in support of the New York Call on October 14, 1917, articles and newspaper clippings about the first Masses trial in 1918, and correspondence with Walter Nelles about the Masses retrial in 1919.

During 1918 and 1919 hundreds of socialists were indicted, tried, and sentenced for anti-war activities. Hillquit was originally scheduled to defend most Socialist Party members accused under the Espionage Law, but he became ill and was unable to do so. Nevertheless, there is information in the papers about many of the cases, including those of Kate O'Hare, Frank Krafft, William J. Head, Scott Nearing, and Eugene V. Debs. The prosecution of Victor L. Berger, Adolph F. Germer, and other national officials of the Socialist Party is detailed in the correspondence with Berger and Germer in 1918 and 1919.

Bolshevism and Red-baiting, 1918-1921

The Russian Revolution had an even more profound effect than the war on American socialists. Internal divisions in the party increased and Bolshevism replaced the war as the primary topic of discussion. Almost every letter in the Hillquit papers during 1918 and 1919 mentions the Russian Revolution; letters from Algernon Lee and Adolph F. Germer discuss the activities of the Socialist Party left wing and reveal the deepening divisions caused by the desire of some socialists to apply Lenin's tactics to the American class struggle. Letters in 1918 from Santeri Nuorteva, representative of the Finnish Socialist Bureau in the United States, disclose the attitudes of Finnish-Americans toward the Bolsheviks and the problems of the Bureau. Germer's letters in 1919 concern retention of party control by the right wing and expulsion or suspension of party branches and language federations controlled by the left wing. Other papers regarding the Socialist Party splits of 1919 and the problem of party tactics include clippings, a reprint of Hillquit's “clear the decks” editorial in the New York Call, his draft of the manifesto adopted by the Socialist Party in the Emergency Convention, August, 1919, and book reviews of From Marx to Lenin (1921), a re-examination of Marxist philosophy and its application by Lenin and the Bolsheviks.

The Russian Revolution increased American hysteria unleashed by the war, and in the immediate postwar period, the American Socialist Party continued to suffer persecutions in the name of patriotism. Eugene V. Debs and other political prisoners of war remained in jail; Victor L. Berger was denied his seat in the United States House of Representatives; Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer organized arrests and deportations; and in New York State the Lusk Committee assumed every Socialist Party member to be a dangerous Bolshevik. Information in the Hillquit papers about red-baiting includes correspondence, writings, and clippings between 1919 and 1921. Correspondence in 1919 with Gilbert E. Roe and Algernon Lee concerns the attempt, growing out of charges lodged by the Lusk Committee, to revoke the charter of the Rand School of Social Science. The 1919 correspondence with Roe, Isaac A. Hourwich, and Ludwig C. A. K. Martens concerns charges filed against Martens, representative in the United States of the Russian Socialist Federal Soviet Republic Bureau.

One of the most overt acts of red-baiting was the 1920 ouster of five duly elected New York State assemblymen who were members of the Socialist Party. Hillquit handled their defense before the Judiciary Committee of the New York State Assembly in January, 1920. Among the papers there are many clippings and articles relating to the case. Correspondence, especially with Seymour Stedman, who assisted Hillquit in the trial defense, details trial procedures and tactics. Later that year Hillquit's closing defense argument was published as Socialism on Trial. The papers include correspondence with publisher Benjamin W. Huebsch, and book reviews.

In 1920, the Socialist Party began an intensive campaign to obtain amnesty for Eugene V. Debs and others imprisoned for anti-war activities. As a member of the Political Amnesty Committee, Hillquit visited President Warren G. Harding in 1921 to plead for Debs's release. Correspondence with Otto F. Branstetter and George E. Roewer, Jr. in September of 1920 and with Harriot Stanton Blatch in 1921 discusses the amnesty campaign. The papers for 1920 also contain some information about Hillquit's fifth congressional campaign.

In the immediate postwar period, international affiliation of the Socialist Party created party disputes and occupied Hillquit's attention. Some members of the party wished to join the Third International formed by the Soviets in 1919; others wished to retain membership in the war-shattered Second International. The Socialist Party eventually joined the Labour and Socialist International. As international secretary of the party, Hillquit made eight trips to Europe between 1921 and 1931. Letters written to Mrs. Hillquit and the Hillquit children during his travels, as well as correspondence with Friedrich Adler, secretary of the Labour and Socialist International, and other European socialist leaders concern the international socialist movement and the activities of the International Congresses. Other papers include speeches, lectures, articles, and clippings.

Fusion Politics, 1922-1924

Internal divisions, communist ousters, red-baiting, and postwar prosperity depleted the ranks of the Socialist Party. Consequently its leaders began to consider fusion politics and the organization of an American party patterned after the British Labour Party. Fusion with such a working-class party had often been the subject of discussion and correspondence among party members during the first decade of the century; the letters from Job Harriman, and the exchange between Hillquit and J. G. Phelps Stokes in November and December, 1909, particularly discussed fusion politics. But Hillquit and other party members recognized the necessity of gaining the support of the major labor unions if such a party were to succeed. Co-operation with organized labor seemed a possibility in late 1921, when Hillquit and other socialists received invitations to attend a Chicago conference of progressives sponsored by six of the country's most powerful railway unions. In two letters to his wife, February 19 and 20, 1922, Hillquit detailed the activities of this meeting which laid the groundwork for the organization of the Conference for Progressive Political Action. Although the actions of the Conference culminated in the 1924 endorsement of presidential candidate Robert M. La Follette rather than in the creation of an independent political party, the Socialist Party endorsed the La Follette ticket and worked for his election.

The papers during this three-year period, which Hillquit labeled “the La Follette intermezzo,” contain detailed information about the progressive and independent labor movements. There is official correspondence, reports, and executive committee minutes of the Conference for Progressive Political Action, as well as correspondence with other nonpartisan political groups such as the Farmer-Labor Party, the Committee of Forty-Eight, the American Labor Party, the Joint Committee for Independent Labor Political Action, and the Committee for a National Farmer-Labor-Progressive Convention. Letters from the Socialist Party national secretary, Bertha Hale White, largely concern fusion politics. Speeches, debate transcripts, articles, and clippings supplement the correspondence and reflect Hillquit's prominent role in the movement.

Reconstruction and Decline, 1925-1933

The collapse of the Conference for Progressive Political Action after the 1924 election convinced most American socialists that fusion politics was impossible at that time, and Hillquit and other socialist supporters of the labor party movement increasingly devoted their time to rebuilding the Socialist Party. After 1924, the collection is largely concerned with internal party affairs. Finances, a problem throughout the party's history, continued to concern the officials and members; Hillquit's correspondence often discusses the party's financial condition and fund-raising activities. Letters from Bertha Hale White, George C. Kirkpatrick, and Eugene V. Debs in June of 1925 reveal the severity of the party's economic difficulties and present an interesting picture of Debs. Debs charged the national office with overspending, reiterated his sacrifices for the party, and at the same time requested a substantial salary for his speaking services to be paid to his brother-in-law.

Throughout the next decade, particularly after Hillquit became national chairman of the party in 1929, the papers include minutes of the National Executive Committee, reports of the national secretaries, and correspondence concerning actions of the National Executive Committee. Correspondence with Julius Gerber, James Oneal, and Nathan Fine discusses the activities of the New York local.

The Socialist Party celebrated Hillquit's sixtieth birthday on September 30, 1929. Among the papers is a volume of birthday greetings, “The World of Socialism to Morris Hillquit on his Sixtieth Birthday,” which contains letters from American and European socialists collected by two of Hillquit's closest friends, Algernon Lee and Julius Gerber.

In the spring of 1930, Morris and Vera Hillquit and other socialist leaders made a cross-country speaking tour. Letters to the Hillquit children provide information about the tour and describe the party organizations in the Midwest and West.

At the 1932 Socialist Party National Convention, a faction of the party attempted to replace Hillquit as national chairman with Daniel W. Hoan, the socialist mayor of Milwaukee. Papers pertaining to the convention include an article about the status of the socialist movement, a draft of Hillquit's keynote address, and correspondence after the convention about the election of the national chairman.

Hillquit conducted his last campaign for political office as the 1932 Socialist Party candidate for mayor of New York City. Extensive correspondence, clippings, speeches, press releases, and broadsides relate the activities of the campaign and election.

Although he was ill with tuberculosis the last year of his life, Hillquit continued to work untiringly for the Socialist Party. He engaged in several debates, completed a draft of his autobiography, and prepared a code for the coat and suit industry employees under authority of the National Industrial Recovery Act. The papers are almost entirely concerned with party business. The correspondence discusses the activities of the Socialist Parties of California and New York, the Illinois miners' strike, co-operation with the Communist Party, participation in a conference called by the American Committee for the Struggle Against the War, and participation of the Young Peoples' Socialist League of New York in the Terzani Defense Committee.

After Hillquit's death on October 7, 1933, the papers consist of condolence correspondence, newspaper clippings, letters concerning Loose Leaves from a Busy Life (1934), and the writings of Nina Hillquit. The latter include two drafts of Miss Hillquit's biography of her father, “Morris Hillquit, Pioneer of American Socialism,” her biographical sketches of world socialist leaders, “Builders of World Socialism,” and research notes used in the preparation of her manuscripts. The biography of Hillquit contains lengthy quotations from his speeches and writings, and the study of world socialist leaders includes an introduction written by Hillquit.

Trade Unionism, 1909-1933

Although Hillquit began his forty-five-year association with trade unions as an organizer of the United Hebrew Trades in 1888, it was not until twenty-one years later, during the New York City shirtwaistmakers' strike, that his work for organized labor received mention in his papers. Information on this strike includes a letter of December 7, 1909, from Samuel Shindler, secretary-treasurer of the Ladies Shirt Waist Makers' Union, inviting Hillquit to arbitrate the strike, and a draft of Hillquit's speech to the strikers at a Carnegie Hall rally on January 2, 1910.

Only five months after the settlement of the shirtwaistmakers' strike, the New York City cloakmakers went on strike. Complicated negotiations resulted in the adoption of the “Protocol of Peace,” which governed the cloak, suit, and skirt industry for the next five years. There is little information in the papers on Hillquit's work for the Cloakmakers' Union during the 1910 strike, but a letter of November 23, 1923, from Julius Henry Cohen, attorney for the Cloak, Suit and Skirt Manufacturers' Protective Association, discusses the authorship of the protocol.

Although the issues of war and peace dominate the papers during the World War I period, information is also available about Hillquit's labor activities. In 1914, he cross-examined Samuel Gompers, leader of the American Federation of Labor, before the United States Commission on Industrial Relations. Later that year, the Gompers-Hillquit exchange and the testimony of the socialist labor leader Max S. Hayes, were published as The Double Edge of Labor's Sword. Correspondence comments on Hillquit's successful “duel” with Gompers, and the clippings include accounts of the hearings and reviews of the book.

Hillquit became counsel for the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union in 1914. A newspaper clipping from June, 1914, reports one of his first actions for the union. He obtained an injunction prohibiting the International Ladies' Garment Workers of the World from using international in their title. Later that same year, he presented “the right to the job” concept before the garment industry's Board of Grievances. A brief in the writings presented before the Board on December 19, 1914, elaborates on this concept and argues the union's position on the discharging of employees, the reorganization of shops, and the distribution of work.

In May, 1915, a number of labor leaders, mostly officials of the New York Joint Board of Cloak Makers' Unions and the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, were indicted on charges of “hiring thugs to terrorize employers and workers.” A letter from Frank MacDonald on May 19, 1915, suggests tactics to inform the public of the advantages won for the needle industry by the union in order to discredit the charges of “union gangsterism.” A few days after the first arrests, eight cloakmakers, men who had composed the 1910 Picket Committee, were charged with murder in connection with the 1910 cloakmakers' strike. The clippings are the best source of information on Hillquit's defense of the union leaders.

The situation in the cloakmaking industry became so acute that in mid-summer, 1915, New York City Mayor John Purroy Mitchel appointed a non-partisan Council of Conciliation to negotiate a settlement. A report prepared by Hillquit for the Council in July, 1915, is similar to the report adopted by the Council. Other papers concerning the Council's work include the minutes of Council meetings, October 5, 1915, and January 13, 1916; a letter from John E. Williams, December 19, 1915, reporting Council chairman Felix Adler's opinion of Hillquit and his appearances before the Council; and a letter, July 5, 1915, from Nathaniel M. Minkow, secretary-treasurer of the Cloak and Suit Tailors' Union, thanking Hillquit for his services to the union.

After the war, the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, like the Socialist Party, struggled internally with communism. In 1926, the communists secured control of the New York Joint Board of Cloak Makers' Unions and forced a strike that depleted union membership and finances. Letters from Morris and Vera Hillquit to Nina Hillquit in July and August, 1926, mention the strike and report Hillquit's work in preparing contract forms for strike settlements. An exchange of letters between Norman Thomas and Hillquit in December, 1926, discusses the leadership of the ILGWU and emphasizes the need for the Socialist Party to avoid both left- and right-wing extremes.

Other papers concerning labor include addresses and excerpts from addresses that Hillquit delivered to conventions of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union and the American Federation of Labor and an exchange of correspondence in 1928 with William Green, president of the AFL, about Hillquit's reported characterization of the American trade-union movement as having “retrogressed and become demoralized under a sterile and complacent leadership.” Nina Hillquit's unpublished biography, “Morris Hillquit, Pioneer of American Socialism,” contains a chapter on Hillquit's work for the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union.