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John Beffel Papers

Identifier: LP000561

Scope and Content

Important subjects in this collection include: Manuscripts of writings by: John Beffel, Slim Brundage, Joseph Cohen, Mini Corder, Paul Crouch, Covington Hall, Harry Kelly, Edith Liggett, Max Nettlau, Helen Parkhurst, Rose Pesotta, Ivan Sokoloff, Vincenzo Vacirca, and Voline, and manuscripts of fore-wards by John Dos Passos and Arturo Giovannitti.

Other subjects include: Anarchists, League for Mutual Aid, M. Bakunin, G. Maximoff, Ralph Chaplin, Mohawk Valley Formula (for strike-breaking), Joseph Cohen, Benito Mussolini, McAlister Coleman, Max Nettlau, Communism, Rose Pesotta, Voltairine de Cleyre, Karl Rienffer, Hetty Green, (ancient) Rome, Hippolyte Havel, Russian Revolution, Joe Hill Case, Southern Labor, Industrial Workers of the World, Carlo Tresca, Tresca Memorial Committee, IWW Obituaries, and Unemployed Union

Among the correspondents are: J. Ray Beffel, Helen Parkhurst, Slim Brundage, Matilda Robbins, Ralph Chaplin, Rudolf Rocker, Paul Crouch, Nicolaas Steelink, Margaret De Silver, Norman Thomas, Covington Hall, Fred Thompson, Agnes Inglis, Olga Maximoff Urkevich, Harry Kelly, Boris Yelensky, and Max Nettlau. Single letters of Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Arturo Giovannitti and a great number of other well-known people, are also included.

Series Description: Series I, Boxes 1-13 General and Personal File This group of papers, filed alphabetically, is the working file of John Nicholas Beffel, during his years (1944-1954) as a free-lance editor and publicist. Much of his editorial correspondence is here, and a few manuscripts of his own, as well as some partial manuscripts which were the subject of his editorial correspondence. A large number of folders, listed by organization, contain publicity material such as news stories, picture captions, and notes. Important in this series are his correspondence, editorial suggestions, and research material (such as the Max Nettlau letters), which are described in detail in this guide. A few folders (as noted) on Harry Kelly, Ralph Chaplin, and the Unemployed Union, are copies from Tamiment Library, N.Y.U.

Series II, Boxes 14-18 Carlo Tresca These five boxes contain the files of the Tresca Memorial Committee, of which John Beffel was the executive secretary. Norman Thomas was the chairman. The committee was formed after the unsolved murder of Carlo Tresca in 1943. Attempts were made to solve what appeared to be a political murder, and to apply pressure on New York officials, hoping for more action. The papers, from 1943 to the early fifties, include correspondence, manuscripts of pamphlets and articles, clippings, evidential material, and memoranda.

Series III, Boxes 19-27 Manuscripts Eleven manuscripts, with editorial notes and occasionally corres-pondence, are included here. All titles were tentative.


  • 1943 - 1954


Language of Materials

Material entirely in English.


Collection is open for research.


Refer to the Walter P. Reuther Library Rules for Use of Archival Materials.


Mr. Beffel, now retired, in New York City, was a writer, editor and publicist. He was born in Ottawa, Illinois. In his earlier years he worked as reporter for the Chicago Daily News, and the Detroit Free Press. Later he was a managing editor of the Toledo Times. He was a re-write and copy desk writer for the Chicago Herald-Examiner, the New York World, the New York Daily Call and the New York Herald Tribune. For two years he was publicity director for the American Civil Liberties Union, and then for the Brotherhood of Utility Employees. In 1936-1939 he was associated with the Brooklyn Public Relations Bureau. In 1944 he began to handle publicity for the Workers Defense League, and to do free-lance publicity work, and writing and editing.


13.5 Linear Feet (27 MB)


Mr. Beffel served as a reporter, writer, editor, and publicist. He edited manuscripts of Slim Brundage, Joseph Cohen, Paul Crouch, Harry Kelly, Walter Marshall, Rose Pesotta, Voline, and Vincenzo Vocirca; and did publicity work for the Workers Defense League. In addition to the manuscripts, the collection includes correspondence, drafts, notes, and clippings which deal with the Carlo Tresca Memorial Committee, anarchists, communism, the Joe Hill case, the IWW, and the League for Mutual Aid. Correspondents include, in addition to the authors noted above, Ralph Chaplin, Margaret DeSilver, Max Nettlau, Matilda Bobbins, Nicolaas Steelink, Norman Thomas, and Fred Thompson.


Arranged in 3 series – Series 1 (Boxes 1-13), Series 2 (Boxes 14-18) and Series 3 (Boxes 19-27). Folders are arranged in original order, etc.


The papers of John Nicholas Beffel were received from the Workers Defense League in 1972. He handled special publicity assignments for that organization, and left his private papers with theirs, so that the bulk of his papers arrived among the papers deposited by the Workers Defense League.


Photographs in the collection include only those from the files of The Tresca Memorial Committee. They have been placed with the photographic collections, and include: - Studio portrait of Carlo Tresca - 5 negatives of (1) studio portrait; (2) the bust of Tresca, at Sulmona, Italy, his birthplace; (3) memorial service at the spot of the assasination, with group including Norman Thomas; (4) his death in the street, January 11, 1943; (5) photo taken with his grandson. - 18 positive photos of above negatives - 2 large glossy shots of the murder scene - 1 large glossy of the bust of Tresca - snapshot of Tresca caricature - photo of souvenir album with picture of Gaetano Vecchiotti and guest list (evidential material)

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library.
Guide to the John Beffel Papers
Processed by Walter P. Reuther Library.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

5401 Cass Avenue
Detroit MI 48202 USA