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Primary sources on Communists and the unemployed during the Great Depression

While writing my PhD dissertation a few years ago ("Down But Not Out: The Unemployed in Chicago during the Great Depression"), I accumulated an enormous number of primary sources from the 1930s. It occurred to me I might as well post some of them here, in case there are any students, activists, or scholars who might find them of interest. Most of the list below consists of excerpts from the microfilm archives of the U.S. Communist Party's newspaper the Daily Worker. It was a remarkable paper whose issues brilliantly portray the incredible turbulence of those years. What a tragedy it is, then, that so few people are aware of it or have access to it. There's nothing like reading primary sources to get a vivid and accurate sense of the past--and to be made powerfully aware of the parallels between the past and the present. Since I was writing on the unemployed, it was mostly only relevant articles that I copied. (As the decade of the 1930s moved to its midpoint and beyond, articles on unemployment dropped off, which is why they aren't represented below.)

Below the links to Daily Worker articles are miscellaneous other items I came across. And below those are some articles from the Party Organizer, an internal publication of the Communist Party (unlike the Daily Worker, which was for everyone to read, including non-members). Since unemployment is going to be such a paramount issue of public concern in the coming years, we could do worse than to study how earlier activists grappled with the task of organizing the jobless for political action. Such organizing certainly isn't easy! But these people did, in the end, accomplish much, including pressing the federal government to enact a "New Deal for the American people," in the words of FDR. If the left doesn't achieve something comparable in the coming years, the future of civilization will be grim indeed.

Issues of the Daily Worker

Early January, 1930

January to March, 1930

April to July, 1930

August to September, 1930

October, 1930 to January, 1931

January to February, 1931

April to May, 1931

June, 1931

August to September, 1931

October to December, 1931

January to June, 1932

June, 1932 to January, 1933

January to April, 1933

April to August, 1933

August, 1933 to January, 1934

January to February, 1934

March to May, 1934

May to July, 1934

October, 1934 to January, 1935

February to May, 1935

July to October, 1935

November, 1935 to April, 1936


"How to Organize and Conduct United Action for the Right to Live: A Manual for Hunger Fighters" (1933)

"Chicago Workers' Committee on Unemployment: Its Purpose and Platform" (1932)

Miscellaneous left-wing newspapers

Miscellaneous left-wing newspapers, part 2

"Unions among the Unemployed": a North American Review article from 1935

Workers Alliance, 1935 to '36

Work, 1940

Party Organizer, 1932

Party Organizer, 1933

Party Organizer, 1934

Party Organizer, 1935 and '36

The Nation, 1931 to 1932

The Nation, 1933

The Nation, 1934

The New Republic, 1930 to 1931

The New Republic, 1931 to 1932

The New Republic, 1932

The New Republic, 1932 to 1933

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