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National Captive Nations Committee Collection

A description of the collection donated by Dr. Lev E. Dobriansky to Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: MRC
Date: 28 Sep 2009

Biographical History

The National Captive Nations Committee is a Washington, D.C.-based anti-Communism advocacy group created in 1959 by Public Law 86-90 under President Dwight D. Eisenhower. PL 86-90 compels every President of the United States to proclaim the third week of July of each year as Captive Nations Week, as commemoration to the "captive nations" (those with Communist governments). The NCNC is a watershed organization which acts as a coordinator for smaller, localized organizations including the Americans for the Freedom of Captive Nations of Los Angeles, California and the Washington Captive Nations Committee of Washington, D.C.. The NCNC distributes publications throughout the year but their peak activity is in July during the observance of Captive Nations Week.

Dr. Lev E. Dobriansky (1918-2008), a professor of Economics at Georgetown University, was the chairman of the NCNC, having written the Captive Nations Week Resolution which became PL 86-90 and gave rise to the committee. Born in New York City to Ukrainian immigrant parents, he was also the president of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA) and very active in Ukrainian independence. He contributed to the Shevchenko Monument Resolution, leading to the erection of a statue for the 19th century Ukrainian freedom fighter in Washington, D.C.. He had years of correspondence with Dr. Ku Cheng-kang, honorary chairman of the World Anti-Communist League (WACL). Dobriansky was also affiliated with the American Council for World Freedom (ACWF) and a number of other anti-Communist (particularly anti-Soviet) organizations and activists. Dobriansky was appointed Ambassador to the Bahamas between 1982 and 1986 by President Reagan. He retired from Georgetown in 1987.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The National Captive Nations Committee Collection consists of correspondence (both personal and professional), published material, news releases, clippings, photographs, printed material, and books. Most of the material is about the Captive Nations movement, but there is also a large amount of material that is more broadly anti-Communist and not explicitly pertaining to the NCNC. Dobriansky, when donating the NCNC collection, included material like the program to a conference called "The United States and China after Mao," an official copy of the presidential proclamation of Human Rights in 1973, and personal condolences to George Meany's widow.

A large portion of the collection directly relates to the observance of Captive Nations Week between 1960 and 1981, although the material is inconsistent in quantity and format from year to year. There are many clippings from the Congressional Record that document the speeches by Representatives who supported NCNC and the Captive Nations Week. There are also copies of the mass distributed letters written by Dobriansky and sent to the President, Congressmen, Senators, Governors, Mayors, and other figures asking that they officially proclaim Captive Nations Week. The collection includes responses from those political figures. The politicians most active in the NCNC's work were Daniel Flood, Edward Derwinski and Samuel Stratton. Some Captive Nation Week folders have clippings of editorials and announcement of planned events as well as memorabilia, like programs and invitations from Captive Nation Week events from around the world. Of interest may be Captive Nations Week 1977, when President Jimmy Carter was conspicuously late with his proclamation and did not issue it until mid-week, raising much ire within the NCNC.

Dobriansky repeatedly tried throughout the 1960s and 1970s to get a Special Committee on the Captive Nations created in Congress. Multiple resolutions were drafted to this effect and there are many Congressional Record pages with speeches by Representatives Flood and Derwinski in support of this effort but they were unsuccessful.

Throughout the time span of this collection, Dr. Dobriansky corresponded regularly with Dr. Ku Chang-keng (Gu Zhenggang) of Taiwan, honorary chairman of the World Anti-Communist League (WACL) and member of the Asian People's Anti-Communist League (APACL). The letters between these two men often discuss the plans for Captive Nations Week events, World Freedom Day events, or WACL conferences. Dobriansky would help Ku arrange for American politicians to speak at events in Taiwan in support of Republic of China there, including Jack Kemp, Jesse Helms, and Strom Thurmond. The collection includes memorabilia from some of those events.

The collection includes many pamphlets and correspondence from Fred Schlafly, president of the American Council for World Freedom (ACWF) and his wife, Phyllis Schlafly, who eventually joined the NCNC board of directors. Phyllis Schlafly produced the Phyllis Schlafly Report, a conservative, self-published periodical. One issue included in this collection is entitled "What's Wrong with 'Equal Rights' for Women?" with subheadings including "The Financial Benefits of Chivalry," "The Right NOT To Take A Job," and "The Fraud of The Equal Rights Amendment."

There are also many publications by Dobriansky in the collection. He was a prolific writer and contributed to the Ukrainian Quarterly on a frequent basis throughout the 1960s and 1970s. This collection includes two decades worth of Dobriansky's efforts with regard to Ukraine, specifically about religion in Ukraine and the observation of Ukrainian Independence Day. Additionally, there are issues of The Ukrainian Bulletin which mention the Captive Nations movement or cite Dobriansky.

Arrangement of the Collection

The collection is alphabetized by subject. The subject folders are arranged chronologically with the exception of the four folders, General Correspondence and Dobriansky- Correspondence: A-G, H-N and O-Z, which are alphabetized by the last name of the sender. In the Captive Nations Week folders, where there is a large amount of clippings from the Congressional Record, those Congressional Record pages are foldered separately from and immediately before the rest of the material for that Captive Nations Week.


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.

Related Material

Some items have been removed and sent to Rare Books for cataloging. Please search the Classic Catalog for "Gift of Lev Dobriansky" to locate these items.

The Special Collections Research Center has a large number of collections about the Communist movement in America. Please refer to the SCRC Subject Index for a complete listing. For additional anti-Communist material, see also the George S. Schuyler Papers.

Subject Headings


Dobriansky, Lev E.
Gu, Zhenggang, 1901-

Corporate Bodies

National Captive Nations Committee.


Anti-communist movements -- United States.
Communist countries.
Nationalism -- Soviet Union.

Genres and Forms

Clippings (information artifacts)
Congressional records.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

National Captive Nations Committee Collection,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Lev E. Dobriansky, 1970-1982.

Table of Contents

Correspondence-subject files