Scope and Contents
The A.J. Muste Papers consist of correspondence, autobiographical material, book reviews, speeches, articles, pamphlets, and newsclippings, as well as sound recordings by and about A.J. Muste. The correspondence (1958-1967) is divided into private correspondence and business papers and forms the bulk of the collection. Numerous individuals and organizations are represented in the correspondence, which includes information about George Keenan, Linus Pauling, Anatol Rapoport, A. Philip Randolph, Morton Sobell, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the World Peace Brigade, Pendle Hill, the Hudson Institute, and the Fellowship of Reconciliation. The records of Liberation magazine and information about the San Francisco to Moscow Walk, the Omaha Action, the Polaris Action and tax resistance are also in the collection.
The bulk of this collection was microfilmed under N.E.H. Grant No. RC 27706-77-739. The material on reels 36 to 39 were filmed by Scholarly Resources, Inc.
Audiocassette, audiotapes (reel-to-reel), and compact discs (of Muste's funeral service, etc.) were removed to the Audiovisual Collection; photos were removed to the Photograph Collection.
Language of Materials
Materials are in English.
Limitations on Accessing the Collection
Copyright and Rights Information
Most boxes are stored off-site; microfilm must be used (3 reels at a time may be borrowed through inter-library loan)
A.J. Muste (1885-1967), born Abraham Johannes Muste in the province of Zeeland, the Netherlands, came to the United States in 1891 when the Muste family settled in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In 1909, Muste was ordained a minister in the Dutch Reformed Church, but later (1917), he became a member of the Society of Friends. During World War I, Muste's refusal to abandon his pacifist position led to his forced resignation from the Central Congregational Church in Newtonville, Massachusetts.
Muste's involvement as a labor organizer began in 1919 when he led strikes in the textile mills of Lawrence, Massachusetts. He became the director of the Brookwood Labor College in Katonah, New York, remaining there until 1931. Muste served as national chairman of the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) from 1926 to 1929. He was one of the founders of the Conference for Progressive Labor Action (CPLA) in 1929, and in 1934 he facilitated the merger of the CPLA with the Trotskyists to form the short-lived Workers Party of America. Muste was director of the Presbyterian Labor Temple from 1937-1940. In 1940 he became executive director of the FOR, a position he held until his retirement in 1953, when he was made director emeritus. From 1948-1953, he served as secretary of the Ohio Peacemakers, a radical pacifist group. He was also a member of the Executive Committee of the War Resisters League, one of the international chairmen of the World Peace Brigade, and helped organize the Committee for Nonviolent Action (CNVA). Muste later served as chairman of the CNVA. For several years he served as the editor of Liberation magazine.
Throughout his "retirement," Muste devoted his considerable energies to the civil rights and peace movements. In the early 1960s, he had devoted much of his attention to the development of a radical, politically relevant, nonviolent movement. With the escalation of the Vietnam War in 1964-1965, Muste played a major role in organizing rallies, vigils and marches to protest the expanding involvement of U.S. military forces. In 1966, Muste went to Saigon with five other pacifists. In the following year he went to Hanoi to meet with leaders there to find an insight into ways to end the war. At the time of his death in February 1967 he was the founding chairman of the Spring Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam.
24 Linear Feet (24 linear feet.)