Historical Note

Arrangement

Scope and Content

Restrictions on Access

Restrictions on Use

Acquisition Info

Processing Info

Separated Material

Other Finding Aids

Inventory   [ + ]

Subject Terms


Guide to the Socialist Labor Party Seattle Section Records
1930-1962



Manuscript Collection No.: 3180
Accession No.: 3180-001
Creator: Socialist Labor Party (Wash.). Seattle Section , creator
Title: Socialist Labor Party Seattle Section records
Date Span: 1930-1962
Quantity: 2.73 cubic feet (7 boxes)
Languages: Collection materials are in English.

Funding for encoding this finding aid was partially provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.



Historical Note

The Seattle Section of the Socialist Labor Party (SLP) was founded in the early 1890's as a branch of the Socialist Labor Party of America. The SLP was founded as a Marxist political party in 1876, the first nationwide socialist party in the United States. The party promoted the doctrines of Daniel DeLeon, theorist of the SLP, which advocated a classless, stateless, industrial democracy in which private property would be abolished and all natural resources and means of production would be operated by the workers through Socialist Industrial Unions. The SLP planned to achieve its goals through national and local elections and by capturing the trade union movement. However, the party's narrow sectarian ideology, its insistence on doctrinal unity and party discipline, together with its rejection of social reform alienated it from the trade union movement. After modest success in the 1890s, the party declined and never numbered more than a few thousand. It survived however, and continued to run candidates for national and state office.

The Socialist Labor Party was the first socialist organization of any importance in the Pacific Northwest but it never established ties with the labor movement and never developed beyond a small cadre. During the period documented by these papers, 1930-1962, the Section frequently consisted of fewer than six active members and at times, particularly in the early 1950s, nearly ceased to exist. Section Seattle experienced frequent internal dissent, occasionally expelled members and was, in 1944, itself censured, expelled from the Party and reorganized. The business of the Section was carried on by an organizer who was democratically chosen and who reported to the secretary of the State Executive Committee. The State Executive Committee answered to the National Executive Committee which was headed by the National Secretary, an office held by Arnold Peterson throughout this period. The official organ of the Party was the Weekly People, which the Section sold through subscriptions and newstands. Its other activities included the sale of SLP pamphlets, distribution of leaflets, lectures, classes and social activities. The SLP in Washington held an annual convention and also conventions to nominate candidates for state elections.

Arrangement

Arranged in 4 series:

  • Administrative records
  • Primary conventions
  • State Executive Committee
  • Spokane Section

Scope and Content

Correspondence, minutes, financial records, conventions and ephemera of the Seattle branch of a Marxist, socialist political party; 1930-1962 (bulk 1943-1962).

Includes records of the Washington State Executive Committee (SEC)(1944-1962) and the Spokane Section (1943-1944). The records of the SEC Secretary consist primarily of SEC Minutes and the 1949 correspondence of Theodore Bossie, who was then SEC Secretary but also a longtime member and former organizer of Section Seattle. Bossie apparently kept his SEC files at the Seattle Section, and his correspondence coincides with a gap in the Seattle correspondence.

Major correspondents and approximate dates of service:

Section Seattle:

  • George Bennett - section organizer, 1940-November 1943
  • Oscar Lindberg - section organizer, November 1943-January 1945
  • Ray Solie - section organizer, January 1945-July 1945
  • Erven O. Hebert - section organizer, July 1945-1949
  • Alexander Merson - section organizer, October 1950-Augist 1951
  • Ray Berner - section organizer, January-July 1957
  • Jack Ceder - section organizer, July 1957-July 1959
  • Donald Orcutt - section organizer, August 1959-1960
  • Charles W. Turner - financial secretary, 1957-1960

State Secretary:

  • Frank Daniels, 1943-1944
  • Al Meenk, 1944
  • Theodore Bossie, 1944-1949
  • Ernest O. Sturm, 1951-1957
  • Henry Killman, 1957-1960

National Socialist Labor Party:

  • Arnold Peterson - National Secretary
  • Herb Steiner - Regional representative circa 1944

Restrictions on Access

Open to all users.

Restrictions on Use

Creator's literary rights not transferred to the University of Washington Libraries.

Acquisition Info

Gift of Budget Rent-A-Car, May 8, 1981.

The records of Section Seattle of the Socialist Labor Party were discovered in a closet of the International Order of Good Templars Hall by members of the lodge and were offered to the Library. After approval was granted by Budget Rent-A-Car, the purchaser of the property, the material was transferred to the Library in May 1981, shortly before the building's demolition. Why or when the records were abandoned is not known.

Processing Info

The records had no discernible order when they were received. During processing, records of the State Executive Committee (SEC) Secretary were discovered and were separated as a series. All the SEC minutes were put into this series.

There are unaccountable gaps in all the record series; the period 1933-1937, 1953-1956, as well as pre-1930 are completely undocumented. The records end abruptly in June 1962 without explanation. At one point, in 1952, the Section sent some of its "historical" records to the national headquarters and this may have been its practice at other times.

Separated Material

Issues of the Weekly People which were received with the papers were relocated to the University of Washington Libraries' Microform and Newspaper Collection. Books from the SLP library were added to the University of Washington Libraries' main collection.

Other Finding Aids

View inventory/container list


Inventory

  
Box/FolderDate
Administrative records
1/1Organizational features1943, 1945
1/2-2/7General correspondence1933, 1942-1962
Intra-organizational correspondence
2/8-3/20 National Executive Committee (Arnold Petersen, National Secretary)1938-1962
3/21-25 Weekly People 1943-1961
Minutes
3/26-4/74/7Section Seattle (bound volumes)1930-1952
4/8Washington State Convention1943-1962
4/9National Convention1948, 1950, 1951, 1960
Financial records
4/10-5/5Audit records (bound volumes)1940-1964
5/6Annual reports1942-1961
5/7Membership dues1941-1949
5/8Membership contributions1937-1943
5/9Miscellanyundated
Reports
5/10Local organizer report1943
5/11-15Section activity report1943-1961
5/16Grievance committee1949
5/17-19Miscellany1943-1961
5/20Speeches and writingsundated
5/21-6/2Newsletters1943-1962
Elections
6/3Vote tally1943-1960
6/4National Party Constitution1942-1960
6/5National Executive Committee1942-1962
6/6-7Clippingsundated
6/8-11Ephemeraundated

  
Box/FolderDate
Primary conventions
6/12Minutes1942-1948
6/13-15Certificates of nomination and related papers1944-1948

  
Box/FolderDate
State Executive Committee
6/16-19General correspondence1944-1949
6/20-24Intra-organizational correspondence - National Executive Committee1949
6/25-7/4Minutes1943-1962
Reports
7/5Section activity reports1949
7/6Biennial convention1958-1960

  
Box/FolderDate
7/7Spokane Section minutes1943-1944

Subject Terms

Personal Names:
Bossie, Theodore--Correspondence.
Petersen, Arnold, 1885-1976--Correspondence.
Socialist Labor Party (Wash.). Seattle Section--Archives.
Steiner, Herbert--Correspondence.
Organizations:
Socialist Labor Party (Wash.). Spokane Section.
Socialist Labor Party (Wash.). State Executive Committee, creator.
Geographic Names:
Spokane (Wash.)--Politics and government.
Washington (State)--Politics and government--1889-1950.
Washington (State)--Politics and government--1951-
Subjects:
Political conventions--Washington (State)
Political parties--Washington (State)
Political parties--Washington (State)--Seattle--Archives.
Socialism--Periodicals.
Socialist parties--Washington (State)
Socialist parties--Washington (State)--Seattle--Archives.
Genre Headings:
Correspondence.
Ephemera.
Financial records.
Minutes.
Proceedings.
Titles:
Weekly People.
Last modified: March 18, 2013
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