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Theodore Draper research files

Identifier: Manuscript Collection No. 579

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of the research files of Theodore Draper from 1919 to 1990. The collection is comprised mostly of subject files and recorded interviews Draper collected during the course of his research on the history of American Communism, primarily those collected for the projected third volume, never completed, covering the period since 1930. The materials in this collection document the history of the American Communist Party, 1930-1945, and, to a lesser extent, American Communism from 1919-1929, as well as the individuals (primarily Earl Browder, General Secretary of the Communist Party, 1930-1945) who were active in party affairs, particularly for the later period.

Among the materials that Draper collected are taped interviews with Earl Browder, James P. Cannon, Joseph Starobin, "Manuel Gomez", and Josephine Truslow Adams as well as summaries, notes from and/or transcripts of interviews with the following individuals: Max Bedacht, Robert Bendiner, Herbert Benjamin, John Brophy, Esther Corey, Frank Crosswaith, Samuel Darcy, W. A. Domingo, John Frey, William Goldsmith, Robert F. Hall, J. B. S. Hardman, Granville Hicks, Sidney Hook, L. E. Katterfield, Jay Lovestone, Lewis Merrill, Richard J. Moore, David Ramsey, Reid Robinson, Joel H. Rogers, James Rorty, Nat Ross, Edward Welsh, Jacob Spolansky, Bertram Wolfe and Charles S. Zimmerman. In addition, there are internal party documents (some original, some photocopies); minutes of Central Executive Committee and Political Bureau meetings; a collection of almost 1,000 pamphlets; and party and other radical periodicals. Also present are correspondence and writings of party figures including, in addition to Browder, Max Bedacht, Herbert Benjamin, Alexander Bittelman, James Cannon, Eugene Dennis and Vincent R. Dunne.

Many of the materials in Series 1, American Communism research files, were acquired by Draper from individuals whom he interviewed. Numerous photocopies and original items have been labeled by Draper as "Wicks material," "Lovestone material," "Browder material," or "Zimmerman material." These designations identify either the source or the general subject to which the material relates. During the course of his research, Draper interviewed the widow of Harry Wicks, who allowed Draper to use documents in her possession from her husband's files; some she gave to him outright. These are designated "Wicks materials." "Lovestone material" refers to items relating to the group led by party leader Jay Lovestone and their expulsion from the party in 1929. Much of the Lovestone material was acquired (in original or photocopied form) by Draper from individuals interviewed. In some cases, Draper made typed copies or transcribed portions of the manuscript These are so designated. Material designated "Browder material" came from Earl Browder; Browder items photocopied from the Browder Collection at Syracuse are identified. Photocopies from collections in other repositories are so labeled; sources for other material have been noted whenever possible.

Series 2, Iran-Contra Affair research files, consists of research material for Draper's book A Very Thin Line: The Iran-contra Affairs (1991). Materials include transcripts of the federal trials of Oliver North and John Poindexter; photocopies of Oliver North's private diary used as evidence in his trial; other memoranda and documents used as evidence in the Iran-Contra Affair; and printed material.

Draper gathered this material for research purposes; his personal papers are not included in the collection. Draper's filing arrangement has been maintained for the most part, except where files had obviously become disarranged.


  • 1919-1990

Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English.

Restrictions on Access

Special restrictions apply: Researchers must contact the Rose Library in advance to access microfilm and audiovisual materials in this collection.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

All requests subject to limitations noted in departmental policies on reproduction.

Biographical Note

Theodore Draper (1912-2006), writer on twentieth century international affairs, was born in Brooklyn, New York to Samuel and Annie Draper. He was educated at Brooklyn College (B.S.S. degree). His writing career in the 1930s and early 1940s included a brief term as editor of the National Student League publication, Student Review (1934) and editor of the literary arts magazine, New Masses (circa 1940s). He also wrote for the Daily Worker and the TASS News Agency.

Draper also wrote extensively on international affairs for publications such as Commentary, New Leader, New Republic, Encounter, Dissent and Political Science Quarterly. His books include: The Six Weeks' War (1944), The 84th Infantry Division in the Battle of Germany, November 1944-May 1945 (1946), The Roots of American Communism (1957), American Communism and Soviet Russia (1960), Castro's Revolution (1962), Castroism: Theory and Practice (1965), Abuse of Power (1967), The Dominican Revolt: A Case Study (1968), Israel and World Politics: Roots of the Third Arab-Israeli War (1968), The Rediscovery of Black Nationalism (1970), A Very Thin Line : The Iran-contra Affairs (1991), and A Struggle for Power : The American Revolution (1996).

Draper is perhaps best known for his historical studies of the American Communist Party. In 1953, the Fund for the Republic commissioned a multi-volume study of Communist influences in American society. Draper was asked to write a history of the American Communist Party from 1919 to 1945. He intended to write a one-volume work concentrating on the years 1930 to 1945. He became convinced, however, of the importance of documenting the origins of the party and his project was expanded beyond the one volume originally planned. His two books, The Roots of American Communism and American Communism and Soviet Russia deal with the years 1919-1929. He began work on the third volume, covering the 1930-1945 period, but turned to other projects and never completed it.

Draper was a research fellow at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace (1963-1974) and a member of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton (1968-1973). He was also a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and served as consultant to the Twentieth Century Fund.


59 linear feet (103 boxes); 122 microfilm reels (MF); 1 oversized papers box (OP); AV Masters: 1.5 linear feet (2 boxes))


Research files of Theodore Draper, a writer and international affairs critic, including materials relating to the American Communist Party and the Iran-Contra Affair.

Arrangement Note

OOrganized into four series: (1) American Communism research files, (2) Iran-Contra Affair research files, (3) Audiovisual, and (4) Unprocessed additions.


Purchase, 1979 with subsequent additions.


Processed by Michael Hessel-Mial, Will Love and Sarah Quigley, 2012.

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Theodore Draper research files, 1919-1990
Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University
May 2, 2007
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library Repository

540 Asbury Circle
Atlanta Georgia 30322 United States