Radicalism in the Arts Special Collections Research Center

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This collection documents the artistic expression of progressive ideologies, representing literature, visual art, and music relating to 20th-century social movements including civil rights, pacifism, environmentalism and ecology, prison reform, the labor movement, and issues of sexuality and gender. The collection includes the library of Earl Browder, former chairman of the Communist Party of the Unites States of America; the papers of cartoonist William Gropper; industrial designer Egmont Arens; and chronicler of Black history Arna Wendell Bontemps. We also hold an extensive collection of printed materials related to the counterculture and the "mimeo revolution" as well as Depression-era fiction and children's books.

Researchers of radicalism might also be interested in our collections in the area of Activism and Social Reform.

Archival Materials

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Audio and Visual Materials

Many of the radicalism collections contain visual and audio materials. For example, see:

  • The Grove Press Records include the financial records of the press’s Film Division as well as some of the films that were distributed by Grove.
  • In addition to photographic prints, negatives, and photographic equipment, the Margaret Bourke-White Papers contain dictation discs, reel-to-reel tapes and phonodiscs (most 78rpm) of speeches, interviews, and speech therapy recordings made after Bourke-White was diagnosed with Parkinson's.
  • The William Gropper Papers contain original drawings, paintings, and prose by Gropper and others; published material, including cartoons from New Masses, clippings, exhibition lists, and illustrations.

Rare Books and Printed Materials

Our printed holdings include published essays, fiction, plays, poetry, and children's books. In addition to holding the records and titles of the American publisher Grove Press and its in-house literary magazine Evergreen Review, we also hold the publications of various small presses such as Angel Hair, C Press, Fuck You Press, Telegraph Press, Tiber Press, Beanbag Press, BkMk Press, Third World Press, Ishmael Reed Publishing Company, among others. Underground or independently-published magazines and journals make up a significant portion of our collection.

Useful search terms to locate these items in the catalog include "radicalism - history - 20th century," "mimeograph," "communism," "socialism," "black arts movement," "queer," "civil rights," "pacifism," "environmentalism," "prison reform," "labor movement," and "Marxism," "counterculture."

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Programs and Events

  • The Never-Ending Wrong: The Execution of Sacco and Vanzetti (Summer 2009)
  • The Small Press and the Black Arts Movement (Spring 2008)
  • Raising Rebels (Summer 2007)
  • People Are My Landscape: Social Struggle in the Art of William Gropper (Spring 2005)
  • Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath: Bitter Fruit of the Depression (Spring 2005)