Scope and arrangement
The George Marshall papers are arranged in six series:
Consists for the most part of correspondence about Marshall's contempt case and incarceration, and various drafts of articles, statements and speeches written by him. Included are a nine page letter written by Marshall in Bavaria, Germany, in 1933, chronicling the Nazis' rise to power, and a selection of letters and memoranda authored by Marshall between 1939 and 1950. Also included are notes and transcripts of Marshall's testimony in front of the New York State Joint Legislative Committee on Charitable and Philanthropic Organizations in 1955.
Series is a densely documented archive on the use of subpoena power and contempt citations by the House Committee on Un-American Activities, and on organized and legal opposition to the Committee prior to the rise of Senator Joseph McCarthy as the leading opponent of communism in the United States. Organized in loose chronological order, it includes Marshall's testimony and statements, and compilations of NFCL publications presented at his first and second appearances before the Committee; and legal correspondence, clipping files and campaign materials compiled by Marshall and his defense team toward his April 1948 trial in the District Court in Washington, D.C., his unsuccessful appeal of the lower court verdict, and his subsequent incarceration. Marshall's defense followed a two-pronged approach: to argue, with the help of expert witnesses, the unconstitutionality of the Un-American Activities Committee, and to establish the non-subversive character of the Federation through an accumulation of its publications and documents. The defense also contrasted the Committee's zeal in prosecuting perceived Communist front organizations with its reluctance to document activities of the Ku Klux Klan and other right wing groups.
Original NFCL materials submitted to HUAC in 1946 pertained to the extension of democratic rights, the elimination of discrimination, full employment legislation, voting rights, the rights of labor, support for the war effort, the fight against lynching, the danger of native fascism, and the elimination of the Committee itself. Other documents include a 146-page legal memorandum on the constitutional invalidity of the Wood-Rankin Committee; a 72-page digest of newspaper articles on the Committee's procedures and investigations, and of Congressman Rankin's more pronounced anti-Semitic and racist comments of that period; briefs, opinions, letters of support, speeches, evidence and exhibits, motions to dismiss, legal correspondence, campaign material and other court documents regarding Marshall's case and other HUAC contempt cases, including the Hollywood 10. There was a level of duplication inherent in the creation and the compilation of those files; their original order and titles have been preserved for the most part.
Comprises the following subseries: Administrative, Conferences, Case Files, Subject Files and Printed Matter. These are Marshall's files as Civil Rights Congress Chairman, active participant and key financial contributor, and also as Secretary of the CRC Bail Fund.
Includes one box of material from the International Labor Defense Fund which merged with NFCL in 1947 to create the Civil Rights Congress. Included in the ILD files is a 199-page "Memorandum on Violations of the Rights of Free Speech and Assembly and Undue Interference with the Right of Labor to Bargain Collectively" submitted to the La Follette Committee of the U.S. Senate (1936), with sections on lynching, lawless police and vigilante activity against striking workers, farmers' unions and the unemployed. The Files of the American League for Peace and Democracy consists of minutes, reports, publications, some correspondence with Harry F. Ward, chairman of the League, and a 48-page transcript of a January 1939 meeting of the National Labor Committee which was affiliated with the League. The file of the American Committee for Democracy and Intellectual Freedom, chaired by Franz Boas, reflected some of its activities against censorship, racial prejudice and communist witch-hunts (Rapp-Coudert investigation in NY State's public schools).
The Citizens Emergency Conference for Interracial Unity initiated by Marian Anderson and Rabbi Stephen Wise in 1943, called for actions that would address the causes of the Harlem Riots of that year; its file includes minutes, conference reports, resolutions, some correspondence and newspaper articles. The file for the National Committee for the Defense of Political Prisoners includes letters from Joe Gelders, data on violations of the rights of Alabama cotton pickers and Kentucky coal miners, documents related to Gelders' kidnapping and flogging in Birmingham, and a memorial tribute for Gelders written by Marshall. Other organizations represented in this series are the Contributors' Information Service founded by Corliss Lamont, the Council on African Affairs, the National Negro Congress, the National Council on American-Soviet Friendship and the Southern Negro Youth Congress.
In keeping with its mission statement ("The education of the people of the United States of America to the necessity and desirability of the development and organization of unions of persons engaged in work or of unemployed persons and the promotion and advancement of an economic system in the United States based upon the theory of production for use and not for profit"), the Robert Marshall Foundation awarded grants to trade-unions and labor advocacy groups, progressive research groups and schools, alternative newspapers and civil rights organizations. The files consist for the most part of correspondence between George Marshall, director of the fund, and the funded groups, grant proposals and tracking sheets, activity reports, and general information about the organizations involved.
Funded newspapers and publication projects include The Allied Labor News, Charlotta Bass's California Eagle, the weekly Chicago Star edited by William Sennett, Federated Press and Adam Clayton Powell's People Voice. The Foundation funded various projects of the National Farmers Union and Farm Research Inc., including educational and organizational work in the South and farm-labor cooperation. The file for the Southern Negro Youth Congress includes correspondence with Executive Secretary Louis Burnham and several grant proposals. The Southern School for Workers file holds correspondence with directors Louise Leonard McLaren and Brownie Lee Jones, reports, grant proposals and a 98-page transcription of a public hearing on the minimum wage organized by the School. Other correspondents include Marion Bachrach of the Council for Pan-American Democracy; Willard Uphaus of the National Religion and Labor Foundation; Terry Pettus, editor of the Seattle New World and the Washington New Dealer, Doxey Wilkerson of the People's Voice; and James Dombrowski of the Southern Conference for Human Welfare.