Guide to the Research Collections



This subject is of great interest to the Research Libraries and is collected comprehensively. A statement of collecting policy made in the Report of the Director for 1935 reflects the library's policy governing the acquisition of material on controversial questions:

Selecting books, like providing ventilation, is a constant effort to reconcile irreconcilables.... The Library strives wholeheartedly to furnish its readers with books on all sides of all questions. It sets its wares before the readers for the gratification of their prejudices, for the opening of new points of view, for the questioning or confirming of long held beliefs. It seeks no converts, wants to prevent no new findings.... it seeks liberal and conservative expression of opinion ... assuring each of a welcome, warning each that acceptance of the one can not be deemed to mean rejection of the other, asking nothing more than the privilege of urging, Hear the other side.7

About 15,000 entries in the Public Catalog fall under the subject heading "Socialism," covering both comprehensive works and those relating to specific countries. Numerous additional headings provide access to such specific topics as "Diggers," "Fourierism," and "Saint-Simonism."

Further analysis of the cards in the Public Catalog reveals that Bolshevism is extremely well represented with over 7,600 entries for works in languages using the Roman alphabet and many others (listed in the Slavonic Division catalog) in the Cyrillic script. It should be noted that works on Bolshevism are subdivided in the library's catalogs by language of the text, e.g., "Bolshevism. English" or "Bolshevism--Russia. English." The library's breadth of coverage was demonstrated in a survey of the literature on the Communist International and its front organizations; the New York Public Library ranks second among world institutions with 602 items out of a total of 2,300 works listed.8

Extensive holdings of the writings of various revolutionaries are held in both the original languages and in translation. There are approximately 550 entries in the Public Catalog for works by Karl Marx and some 1,000 for works specifically about him in the Roman alphabet; an additional 200 entries by him and 350 works about him in the Cyrillic script are entered in the Slavonic Division card catalog. The papers of F.A. Sorge in the Manuscripts and Archives Division include more than 30 letters addressed to Sorge by Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Johann Philip Becker, Joseph Dietzgen, and others during the period 1867 to 1895; they relate to labor, political, and socialistic movements of that period in Europe and America. The papers of Emma Goldman cover the period 1906 to 1940.

Substantial files of periodicals strengthen the collection. Representative publications of most of the sociopolitical ideologies are received from various parts of the world; anti-socialist periodicals are included. Bibliographical holdings are also strong, ranging from such current materials as the Annali (1958-) of the Instituto Giangiacomo Feltrinelli at Milan to earlier materials, such as Guide to Books for Socialists published by the Fabian Society in London in 1907. The library has extensive holdings of the Fabian Society tracts and other publications in the general collections; relevant writings of notable English and American authors are to be found in the Berg Collection.

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The library has unusual materials relating to communities and sects which have embodied various socialistic principles in their government, including the Mormons,9 the Shakers, and the Icarian and Oneida communities, among others.

Utopias are of particular interest to the library, which continues to add unusual or rare editions of books in all languages on the concept of an ideal state. The Berg Collection holds the original edition in Latin (1516) of Sir Thomas More's famous prototype, as well as the first English edition of 1551. In the Rare Book Division is to be found Campanella's "Civitas solis" printed in his Realis Philosophiae Epilogisticae Partes Quatuor (Frankfurt, 1623) and in the Economic and Public Affairs Division is found the Free State of Noland (1701), which may have been written by Daniel Defoe. Other books, pamphlets, and manuscripts in the library relating to the attempts to found ideal communities in the United States are of additional interest as Americana; among these is the Brook Farm experiment, for which first and early editions, as well as manuscripts in the Berg Collection, add primary source materials to holdings in the general collections. Similar experiments covered by materials in the library are the Icarian community near Corning, Iowa, founded by Etienne Cabet; the Oneida community of New York; and the settlement of La Réunion, Texas, by Victor Considérant.

In the Manuscripts and Archives Division the papers of George and Richard Lichtenberger and of Liberty D. Brooks, together with a ledger kept by Robert Dale Owen and additional items, document the community of New Harmony, Indiana, for the period 1837 to 1894. The Norman Thomas papers cover the life work and interests of this American socialist leader, and much pertinent material is to be found in the Horace Greeley papers. The Berg Collection documents socialism as it was reflected in the lives and works of nineteenth- and twentieth-century American and English authors.