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Battle Hymn Typescript

A description of the item at Syracuse University

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Blankfort, Michael, 1907-1982
Title: Battle Hymn Typescript
Inclusive Dates: 1936
Quantity: 1 folder (SC), containing typed manuscript
Abstract: Typescript of a Federal Theatre Project play about abolitionist John Brown and his raid on Harpers Ferry, West Virginia in 1859. The cover reads "Battle Hymn, by Michael Blankfort and Michael Gold."
Language: English
Repository: Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010

Biographical History

Born in 1907 in New York, Michael Blankfort was a writer, lyricist, director, and producer. He wrote a number of plays and musicals early in his career beginning with Merry-Go-Round in 1932; Battle Hymn was his sixth work, produced by the Federal Theatre Project of the WPA. In the 1940s he moved into film and then television, penning Westerns, dramas and adventure tales, and in 1950 he won the Writer's Guild of America's award for Best Written Western for Broken Arrow. He also wrote novels and short stories, many of which were adapted for the screen. He served as president of the Writer's Guild of America (West) from 1967-1969, and from 1969-1971 he was a governor of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Michael Blankfort died in 1987.

Michael Gold, writer, was also born in New York in 1894, the son of Jewish immigrants (his original surname was Granich). Although not born into poverty, his father's health and business failed when Gold was still young, forcing him to go to work at age 12 to help support his family. While working as a manual laborer, Gold began to write about his experiences with poverty and about his fellow laborers. His radical political views found a congenial home in socialist journals such as the Masses and the Call, and he became successful enough that he was able to leave manual labor altogether and support himself solely through his writing. In 1920 he became associate editor of The Liberator and six years later Gold and his friend, John Sloan, became joint editors of the New Masses. At the time of Battle Hymn, he had one play and one musical to his credit and had recently published a successful novel, Jews Without Money. His other books include 120 Million (1929) and Change the World (1937). Michael Gold died in 1967.

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Battle Hymn Typescript consists of a single original typescript of the play. A note affixed to the front reads as follows:

"This play can be done for $50 per week and is approved for production within the Region. When finished with script please return promptly to Federal Theatre Project, Regional Service Bureau, 1050 Santee Street, Los Angeles, California.
If you are interested, parts are available in this Bureau."

This note suggests that this was the FTP's own Bureau copy.

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Access Restrictions

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

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Related Material

Special Collections Research Center has a substantial amount of material relating to American literary radicalism. Please refer to the SCRC Subject Index for a complete listing of these collections.

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Subject Headings


Blankfort, Michael, 1907-1982.
Brown, John, 1800-1850 -- Drama.
Gold, Michael, 1893-1967, joint author.

Corporate Bodies

Federal Theatre Project (U.S.)


Abolitionists in literature.
Abolitionists -- United States.
Radicalism -- United States.
Radicalism in literature.
Radicals -- United States.


Harpers Ferry (W. Va.) -- History -- John Brown’s Raid, 1859 -- Drama.

Genres and Forms

Manuscripts (document genre)



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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Battle Hymn Playscript,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Carol North Dixon, in memory of Walter E. Sutton, 2007.

Finding Aid Information

Created by: MRC
Date: 9 Mar 2007
Revision history:

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SC 187 Battle Hymn 1936

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