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Elizabeth Gurley Flynn Papers

 Collection
Identifier: LP000122
The Elizabeth Gurley Flynn Collection consists primarily of family correspondence, mostly letters she wrote to her nephew, Peter Martin, while in prison and while traveling in the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and the western United States in the 1960's. There is also some correspondence with her sister Kathie and Kathie's daughter, Mrs. Frances Onipede, while the two were living in Nigeria, and with her niece, Roberta Bobba. While its content largely concerns family and personal matters, including her health, it also contains some political commentary as well as her impressions of prison life and the places she visited.

Dates

  • 1956 - 1964

Language of Materials

Material entirely in English.

Access

Collection is open for research.

Use

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

Extent

.25 Linear Feet (1 MB)

Abstract

Elizabeth Gurley Flynn joined the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) as a high school student in 1906, but left school a year later to dedicate herself to organizing full time. A gifted and popular speaker, over the next several years she participated in IWW free speech and legal defense fund-raising campaigns and helped organize the Lawrence and Paterson textile strikes. A tireless defender of labor and political agitators facing deportation, Ms. Flynn helped found the ACLU in 1920, only to be expelled in 1940 for having joined the Communist Party three years earlier. She also wrote and lectured extensively on women's issues. In the mid-1950s she was imprisoned for violation of the Smith Act and in 1961, became the first woman to serve as chair of the U.S. Communist Party, a position she held until her death in Moscow on September 5, 1964. The Elizabeth Gurley Flynn Collection consists primarily of family correspondence, mostly letters she wrote to her nephew, Peter Martin, while in prison and while traveling in the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and the western United States in the 1960s. While its content largely concerns family and personal matters, including her health, it also contains some political commentary as well as her impressions of prison life and the places she visited.

History

Elizabeth Gurley Flynn was born August 7, 1890 in Concord, New Hampshire, the daughter of immigrant Irish revolutionaries. She joined the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) as a high school student in 1906, but left school a year later to dedicate herself to organizing full time. A gifted and popular speaker, over the next several years she participated in IWW free speech and legal defense fund-raising campaigns and helped organize the Lawrence and Paterson textile strikes. A tireless defender of labor and political agitators facing deportation, Ms. Flynn helped found the ACLU in 1920, only to be expelled in 1940 for having joined the Communist Party three years earlier. She also wrote and lectured extensively on women's issues. In the mid-1950s she was imprisoned for violation of the Smith Act and in 1961, became the first woman to serve as chair of the U.S. Communist Party, a position she held until her death in Moscow on September 5, 1964.

Arrangement of the Papers

Papers are arranged in alphabetical order by subject or type of content.

Acquisition

The papers of Elizabeth Gurley Flynn were placed in the Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs in July of 2000 by Nunzio Pernicone, a distant relative, and were opened for research in November of 2000.

Related Material

Ann Blankenhorn Papers, IWW Records, Mary Heaton Vorse Papers, Carl Person Papers John and Phyllis Collier Papers

Transfers

A tape recording of Elizabeth Gurley Flynn's personal recollections of the IWW, made in 1962, was added to the Archives Audiovisual Collection in 1964.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library.
Title
Guide to the Elizabeth Gurley Flynn Papers
Status
completed
Author
Processed by Walter P. Reuther Library; encoded by Amita Ng.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

Contact:
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Detroit MI 48202 USA