William English Walling Papers, 1871-1962

Scope and Content Note

The Walling Papers are available both in original paper form and on microfilm produced by the Wisconsin Historical Society.


Correspondence in the Walling Papers is arranged chronologically and covers a period from 1871 to 1962. The letters are mostly personal until 1906, at which time Walling wrote to his father from St. Petersburg that he believed he had better access to information than any man in Russia, writing that “The Reds tell me what they tell no one else.” He wrote also of interviews with ministers of state, of peasant attacks on landlords, of the threat of inflation, and of the ineffectiveness of the Douma.

A 1909 letter reported on the race riots in Springfield, Illinois later described by Walling and Miss Ovington as the birth of the NAACP. The race question was also discussed in an exchange of letters with John P. Frey in 1929, concerning Frey's speech on the Negro and trade unions.

Hamilton Holt wrote in 1909 that Walling seemed to be a bit too radical, but offered to join with him; and in that same year Walling's letters to H. M. Hyndman discussed socialist anti-war policy, progressive taxation, and anti-imperialism. To Eugene V. Debs, Walling expressed regret at what he believed was a reactionary policy of the AFL, and suggested that socialists should make propaganda with the so-called educated classes. In one letter of 1910 he asked, “Is not the Republicanism of La Follette, or the Democracy of a Tom Johnson, preferable to laborism or socialism with the democracy left out?”; and in another he discussed the socialist movement in relation to woman suffrage. His correspondence in 1934 with Mathew Woll pictured the laborer as consumer as well as producer, and referred to the effect of low wages on the economy.

The correspondence includes the following:

Letters to Walling from:

  • Beveridge, Albert J., 1899, Jan. 23
  • Biddle, Francis, 1935, March 8
  • Bliven, Bruce, 1929, Feb. 26
  • Bishop, Hillman M., 1929, March 1
  • Clark, J.M., 1934, March 19
  • Christman, Elizabeth, 1929, April 23
  • Draper, Ernest G., 1935, May 14
  • Frank, Glenn, 1929, Feb. 20
  • Frey, John P., 1929, Jan. 10, 15
  • Green, William, 1929, March 27; 1930, June 18
  • Godoy, Paul, 1931, May 26
  • Gorki, Maxim (wife), 1910
  • Holt, Hamilton, 1929, Feb. 20; 1909, Feb. 1
  • Hopkins, J.A.H., 1929, Oct. 14
  • King, W.L. Mackenzie, 1921, Aug. 10
  • Milne-Bailey, Walter, 1930, June 12
  • Moley, Raymond, 1934, March 21
  • Moskowitz, Henry, 1928, Aug. 31
  • Roosevelt, Theodore, Jr., 1939, Feb. 20
  • Ross, E.A., 1932, March 23
  • Short, William, 1918, July 13
  • Sinclair, Upton, 1914, Aug. 12
  • Taft, William Howard, 1917, March 23; 1918, March 28
  • Thomas, Albert, 1929, Aug. 2; 1931, April 20
  • Wilson, Woodrow, 1917, May 5, 21
  • Winslow, Erving, 1919, May 2
  • Woll, Matthew, 1934, Nov. 16; 1935, Dec. 16
Letters from Walling to:
  • Belmont, Mrs. O.H.P., 1910, March 10
  • Debs, Eugene V., 1909, Dec. 14

In 1962 and 1965, additions to the Walling Papers were received and incorporated into the original collection. These consisted of about 300 letters and many clippings. Most of the letters are concerned with family matters and fall into three periods: 1914-1917, when Walling was away from home writing or traveling; 1923, when Mrs. Walling was in France; and 1927-1933, when the Walling daughters were in college. The remainder are business letters and contain scattered references to national and international events. A letter of 1905 describes Walling's trip to Poland to meet with revolutionists and Socialists, several letters refer to American entrance into World War I and policies of the AFL, and an undated letter from Elizabeth Gurley Flynn concerns her work on behalf of the I.W.W. There are occasional references to Rose Stokes, Clarence Darrow, Samuel Gompers, Herbert Hoover, Henrik Shipstead, and others with whom the Wallings associated through the years.

Articles and Speeches:

Typewritten copies of a few of Walling's articles and speeches on labor, the national economy, the race question, and foreign relations are included in this collection. In addition there are a large number of printed magazine articles.

Newspaper Clippings:

There are a number of newspaper clippings dealing with reports on Walling's lectures, political activities, and writings. Some concern the LaGuardia campaign for mayor of New York in 1929 on the Republican- Fusion Ticket, some are reviews of Walling's books, and others seem to have been gathered because they were related to subjects on which Walling worked and wrote. Filed in Box 3 are printed copies of many newspaper articles and editorials written by Walling, particularly concerning labor.

Other Manuscript Material:

Included in papers presented in 1962 was an English translation of court testimony in the breach of promise suit brought against William English Walling in 1911 in Paris, France, by Bertha Grunspan. The typescript of the translation includes 159 pages; but is incomplete, as the first 53 papers of the court procedure and testimony are missing. Accompanying the transcript are nine pages in William E. Walling's handwriting outlining his defense against the charges made by Miss Grunspan, whom he had known before his marriage to Anna Strunsky. The case appears to be primarily important as a biographical episode.