Thursday, March 22, 2007

Communist party USA donates papers

Michael Falco for The New York Times

The Communist Party USA has donated a vast collection never before seen publicly to New York University.

The cache contains decades of party history including founding documents, secret code words, stacks of personal letters, smuggled directives from Moscow, Lenin buttons, photographs and stern commands about how good party members should behave (no charity work, for instance, to distract them from their revolutionary duties).

“It is one of the most exciting collecting opportunities that has ever presented itself here,” said Michael Nash, the director of New York University’s Tamiment Library, which will announce the donation on Friday.

Liberal and conservative historians, told by The New York Times about the archives, were enthusiastic about the addition of so many original documents to the historical record. No one yet knows whether they can resolve the die-hard disputes about the extent of the links between American subversives and Moscow since, as Mr. Nash said, “it will take us years to catalog.” But what is most exciting, said Mr. Nash and other scholars, is the new areas it opens up for research beyond the homegrown threat to security during the cold war.

The collection covers the 88 years of the party’s history, as well as earlier radical movements.


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