Berkeley Digital Library


Candace Falk, Editor and Director
Stephen Cole, Associate Editor
Sally Thomas, Assistant Editor



Emma Goldman herself launched the effort to preserve the documentary record of her life. In 1939, when she donated her papers to the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam, she crossed the line from "Living My Life," the title of her autobiography, to "archiving" it, an act of faith that her story would matter long after she was dead. Organizing the papers also gave Goldman an opportunity to relive the years she had shared with her friend and colleague Alexander Berkman, to reminisce about her "dead past" in America before their abrupt deportation to Soviet Russia, and to reckon with her own mortality.

During this period of sorting through the papers, she wrote to her old friend and lawyer, Harry Weinberger:

I found it an extremely difficult job and hellishly painful. It is bad enough to dig into the dead past, still worse to relive it all, especially Alexander Berkman's and my correspondence which amounts to thousands of letters. . . . You need not think that I am making a thorough job. That would take months.1

Collecting her old letters had begun a decade earlier when Goldman was preparing to write her autobiography. She had asked her friends to return her letters so they would serve as aides-memoire while she wrote. A tacit sense of Goldman's historical importance guaranteed that an unusual number of friends treasured their letters from her over the years. They responded generously to Goldman's call. She consigned to others the job of transcribing the letters she considered most critical to her autobiography, so that the originals could be returned to her loyal friends. Goldman's access to these artifacts of her past enabled her to write her narrative with dramatic immediacy, to capture the turbulence of the political activism and passionate love life of her younger days in America. When she reread her love letters to Ben Reitman, however, she was so overwhelmed with painful memories of their intense relationship that she found the thought of having them copied unbearable, lest they fall under unsympathetic eyes. She wrote to Reitman in January 1928:

It is like tearing off my clothes to let them see the mad outpouring of my tortured spirit, the frantic struggle for my love, the al[l] absorbing devotion each letter breathes. I can't do it.2

Yet, in spite of her sense of vulnerability, she never considered destroying any of her correspondence. Convinced that these love letters might resonate more clearly with future generations less encumbered by the prudery of her time, she encouraged Reitman to preserve them for posthumous public scrutiny, and she incorporated their essence into her autobiography.

She mused about the significance of her collected correspondence, particularly the less passionate and somehow more authentic letters she exchanged with Alexander Berkman:

Some day I will come back here [the International Institute of Social History] . . . to really make order and perhaps to use what Berkman has left and also my own writings for a third volume of "Living my Life", or perhaps an autobiography of Alexander Berkman or a collection of letters from diverse people.3

Nearly forty years after her death, recognition of her historical significance led to the formation of the Emma Goldman Papers Project, yielding an irony that Goldman herself could never have anticipated: The government of the same nation that expelled her has posthumously repatriated her memory by sponsoring the collection and publication of her papers. The National Historical Publications and Records Commission, influenced by the new appreciation for the diversity of America's documentary heritage that arose in the 1960s, deemed Goldman important enough to endorse the collection and publication of her papers. By the late 1980s and early 1990s, however, the intellectual atmosphere among most other federal funding agencies was hostile to the ideas Goldman championed and profoundly affected the momentum of the Project. The twelve-year process of bringing together, organizing, annotating, and publishing Goldman's correspondence, writings, and government and legal documents for the microfilm edition of The Emma Goldman Papers signifies the completion of the archival work Goldman started during her life and modestly assumed "would take months."


Situated within a long tradition of avant-garde artists and thinkers who challenged convention, Goldman possessed an uncanny ability to express the needs of her own generation and presage those of the next. A quick-witted and rousing orator, an eloquent and searing social critic, Goldman was dubbed by the liberal press "the high priestess of anarchism," whose "gospel" was "eight thousand years ahead of her age."4 Like an ad hoc professor of the streets, Goldman used every forum she could obtain--parks, public lecture halls, private clubs, even the shafts of coal mines--to impart her message, attempting to prod the public out of complacent acceptance of the prevailing social and political norms.

Goldman defined anarchism as:

"the philosophy of a new social order based on liberty unrestricted by man-made law; the theory that all forms of government rest on violence, and are therefore wrong and harmful, as well as unnecessary. . . . [Anarchism] stands for the liberation of the human mind from the dominion of religion; the liberation of the human body from the dominion of property; . . . a social order based on the free grouping of individuals for the purpose of producing real social wealth; an order that will guarantee to every human being free access to the earth and full enjoyment of the necessities of life, according to individual desires, tastes, and inclinations."5

Within the broad rubric of anarchist theory, Goldman's definition revealed a particular anarchist agenda. It was as much a vehicle for promoting a positive expression of human values as it was a political orientation. Because Goldman believed that people were essentially good, she concluded that unlimited freedom would unleash the cooperative potential of the human spirit. She attributed the ills of the world--poverty, violence, inequality, even lack of imagination--to the constraints of a government whose power rested on coercion. The heavy hand of government that suppressed the growing and ebullient eight-hour movement that marched 300,000 strong across the United States on May 1, 1886, indelibly marked the character of Goldman's political life and activity. She attributed her political awakening to the execution of the Haymarket anarchists held responsible for a bomb thrown at police during a May 4 mass meeting at Haymarket Square in Chicago to protest the most recent police shootings of striking workers. While the labor movement continued to make slow progress, many historians view the Haymarket events as a deathblow to the anarchist movement and the legitimization of years of fierce repression for all who identified with anarchism. Goldman, however, saw herself as the avenger of the wrongs perpetrated against the victims of Haymarket. The vehemence of her position was a direct response to her experience at the turn of the century of the especially harsh role of the police and the military in their violent encounters against striking workers; and of the law which, more often than not, supported the suppression of dissent and criminalized open forums on anarchist ideas.

Throughout her political life she fought for free speech when that right was often violated in practice. She advocated free love in the face of social convention, and birth control when information on the subject was banned. Although many anarchists proclaimed their mission as fostering critical thinking, cultural and political transformation, and social cooperation, the general public envisioned anarchist gatherings as occasions for plotting assassinations and making bombs. Goldman, like many other anarchists, was impatient with such caricatures but nonetheless refused to dissociate herself from the violence that tinged her early years in the movement. She continued to address, publicly and sympathetically, the desperation that fueled violent social protest. She never completely repudiated the 1892 assassination attempt by her anarchist comrade Alexander Berkman on steel magnate Henry Clay Frick, nor retracted her expressions of sympathy for Leon Czolgosz, President William McKinley's assassin. The conservative press vilified Goldman long after these incidents, playing on the public's alternate repulsion and fascination with political violence and on the general discomfort and confusion about the message of the anarchists. In fact, the Goldman collection documents an element of duplicity on the subject, the ways in which she alternately placed herself on both ends of the broad anarchist spectrum from violence to non-violence, often presenting her ideas differently to the immigrant German and Yiddish-speaking community, to an English-speaking audience, to the press, to the police, and to the courts.

Confronted by a wall of political and social prejudice about anarchism, Goldman usually countered its primary association with violence by emphasizing the centrality it placed on the concept of freedom. Goldman's conception of anarchism resonated with the independent spirit so integral to the American character; she drew links between the European anarchist tradition, the ideas of Jeffersonian democracy, and Emersonian individualism.

It is difficult to document the history of the various threads of American anarchism. Censorship laws and post-office restrictions ensured that few anarchist periodicals had long runs; the frequency of government raids discouraged anarchist groups from taking formal minutes of their meetings. Published articles were often written under several pseudonyms; thus, the historian of anarchism must decode the source material to ascertain individual attribution. Such surface confusion experienced by "outsiders" in their attempt to understand the day-to-day workings of anarchist groups pleased many anarchists, who often joked about their antipathy toward the hierarchy and fixed rules of more traditional forms of political organization. Hippolyte Havel, a member of the editorial staff of Goldman's magazine, was once asked how the anarchists could plan and work together with such disregard for conventional structure. He replied in jest that, although he had taken part in editorial meetings and collective decisions on submitted material, often "we didn't abide by our decision!"6

The gusto and eloquence with which Goldman challenged convention became her hallmark. Particularly in her advocacy of women's sexual independence and her analysis of the political dimensions of personal life--her insistence that marriage was not the sole signifier of love, her willingness to speak publicly about social alienation, and the common yearning for love and community--she widened her circle of influence. She reached beyond the predominantly ethnic immigrant enclaves that constituted the anarchist audience and helped to "Americanize" the radical movement. Motivated in part by her longings to broaden her influence outside the Russian-Jewish community, and by her personal refusal to accept the limitations inherent in an exclusive ethnic or racial identity, Goldman sometimes alienated her "nearest and dearest" by staging Yom Kippur picnics on the holiest of Jewish holidays designated for fasting and atonement.

Goldman was more theatrical than most of her radical counterparts and, in fact, most of the public figures of her day or ours. When she began her career as a political lecturer in the 1890s, it was unusual to see a woman in that role, particularly one so daring. Her provocative and outspoken style elicited powerful responses from the public, ranging from awe to downright fear. Goldman distinguished herself from more mainstream women reformers--from the bourgeois "New Woman" of the period and from the growing suffrage movement--by asserting that woman's freedom would never be found within the bounds of marriage nor achieved through enfranchisement. Although Goldman's refusal to join with groups focused exclusively on women's issues often branded her as "a man's woman," few voices of either sex addressed as eloquently the political dimensions of personal life, or challenged as forcefully the social conventions that shackled women. From a perspective that now would be considered ardently feminist, she encouraged women to cast off the layers of submission that suppressed their potential--a charge that continues to challenge even contemporary women.

Goldman's lasting influence is evidenced most clearly in the specific realms of freedom she espoused--in free speech, in sexual freedom--more than from the general promotion of anarchism that propelled her intellectual and political work. She moved easily from lecturing and writing on issues of sexual and reproductive freedom to issues less tied to gender--labor, the education of children, religious moralism, drama, war. Among the few women who shared the radical spotlight in the pre-World War I era were socialist peace activist Crystal Eastman, labor leader Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, birth control advocate Margaret Sanger, and American-born anarchist Voltairine de Cleyre. Goldman and her diverse political contemporaries joined forces in their common interest in freedom of expression--a principle that would take years of battle in the streets and courtrooms to establish and enforce as law--and in so doing moved from the margins into the center of the American tradition. Because of her insistence on the right to speak in opposition, to express what others might consider outrageous blasphemy, Goldman is a particularly compelling subject for studying the history of freedom of expression in America--a liberty now identified as one of the distinguishing characteristics of western democracy.


The microfilm collection displays Goldman's life and work through glimpses of thousands of individuals and groups across the world who shared her ideas and documents that trace the strategic arguments of her opponents. A sampling from The Emma Goldman Papers testifies to the remarkably wide net cast by Goldman. Significant correspondents within her immediate circles include Alexander Berkman, Rudolf and Milly Rocker, Frank and Nellie Harris, Max Nettlau, Arthur Leonard Ross, and Roger Baldwin. Among her other correspondents were novelists Jack London, Sinclair Lewis, H. G. Wells, Aldous Huxley, and Agnes Smedley; historians Merle Curti, Samuel Eliot Morison, and Charles Beard; figures as varied as Paul Robeson, Sylvia Beach, Lady Astor, and Herbert Read, as well as political figures like Eugene Debs, Peter Kropotkin, Margaret Sanger, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, and Carlo Tresca. The unifying principle of this massive collection of papers is the unusual life of Emma Goldman. Researchers now have the opportunity to study, through original documents, how one woman in tandem with her circle of political associates and friends influenced the course of history.

In the varied papers of one very public life, multiple facets of identity and many voices emerge over time. In matters of love, Goldman's intimate letters expose the strength of her passions and the despair of her vulnerability and self-doubt. Her political correspondence reveals her creative defiance as a vocal opponent of injustice, as well as her often narrow sectarianism within the Left that occasionally alienated not only socialists and communists but even some anarchists in her own circles. Nonetheless, it is the unusually empathic dimension of her intellectual depth as a social critic that remains the distinctive attribute imparted in the comprehensive collection of her papers.

Goldman described the value of her proposed autobiography to a publisher:

[M]y story is not merely a record of the Anarchist movement in America, or even of my own personal life. It is a story which embraces the cultural efforts of the United States over a period of thirty-five years. Everything that was attempted in advanced ideas and progressive thought, in the drama, in literature, in education, birth control, in the various forms of the emancipation of women, free speech fights, the various strikes--all are presented, reflected and commented upon in my work. Added to this are the different personalities, men and women, who have been active in some phase of the cultural endeavor in America, and many men in different European countries. . . . no one has lived such a life. No one therefore has the material which is mine. I feel therefore that my autobiography would have an appeal to all classes and to all people of no matter what difference in status or opinions.7

The material in The Emma Goldman Papers also reflects the range and diversity of the vibrant subculture of the period in which she lived. The papers are replete with vignettes of the lives of many individuals sharing a common social vision responding to the events and inequities in their world. Seemingly disparate groups and individuals united by their association with Goldman take on a new coherence--among them activists, writers, financial supporters, scholars, workers, family members, secretaries, and lovers.


To do justice to the international breadth of Goldman's life and work, the Project went to great lengths to search for documents in collections outside the United States. Fellow historians generously shared with the Project staff their knowledge of foreign archives, directed us to Goldman material abroad, and put us in contact with foreign scholars who could assist our search. Graduate students abroad reviewed newspapers in their native languages, and University of California-Berkeley graduate students, serving as translators, helped the Project to communicate with foreign archives, scholars, researchers, and students.

Our search and their efforts were amply rewarded, as the collection includes Goldman material from Argentina, Australia, Austria, Canada, the People's Republic of China, the Republic of China, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and the former Soviet Union. The international reach of Goldman's ideas proved to be among the most fascinating aspects of the search for and collection of her papers.

The papers track Goldman's movement from Russia to the United States; visits to Europe, including stays in London and Vienna; her deportation to Soviet Russia; and her subsequent exile in Sweden, Germany, England, France, Spain, and Canada. Her own writings and correspondence are complemented by newspaper accounts of her activities abroad.

Although the material from countries that Goldman visited or lived in has intrinsic biographical interest, other items in the collection from countries such as Japan, China, and Italy that Goldman never visited illustrate the ways in which social movements in different countries influence each other. In Japan, for example, a fledgling women's movement in the 1920s translated and published Goldman's early essays on marriage and love and on sexual freedom, thus relying on the writings of an outsider to articulate what might have been taboo for a woman within the Japanese culture to express. Goldman's international stature made these controversial ideas more palatable in Japan.

In China, revered novelist Ba Jin, leader of the Union of Chinese Writers, considered Goldman his "spiritual mother" and dedicated two of his books to her. The Project's researcher, a professor at Nanjing University, interviewed associates of Goldman's, then in their nineties, to record stories and impressions from their youth and to encourage them to record their memories of Goldman and her influence for inclusion in The Emma Goldman Papers. Thus the Project helped reconstruct documentation of the influence of the anarchists in the early part of the revolution in China, a history that has been largely suppressed. Among those memoirs are the stories of young Chinese radicals who flocked to Soviet Russia in the 1920s to apprentice in the art of revolution and who were deeply affected by Goldman's criticisms of the Russian revolution.

It would have been out of character for Goldman to experience a disenchantment with the promise of the Russian revolution without trying to play a role in determining its direction. Although she wrote in her autobiography about a 1920 meeting with Lenin during which he remarked that her concern with freedom of expression was a bourgeois prejudice, no documentary record of the meeting existed. The Emma Goldman Papers Project wrote repeatedly over several years to the central archive of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union, against the advice of scholars who had been trying to gain access to that collection for years. Our efforts too were to no avail until Mikhail Gorbachev's policy of glasnost inaugurated dramatic changes. In 1989 an envelope arrived at the Project's office from Moscow containing photographs of documents from Lenin's file about his historic meeting with Goldman. Of equal interest to Lenin's record of the formal demands of the anarchists that Goldman and Berkman presented to him that day are letters from his associate Angelica Balabanoff, encouraging him to grant the meeting with Goldman and assuring him that Goldman's sphere of influence was outside of Russia.8

Even in exile, Goldman risked alienating herself from the growing left movement inspired by the Russian revolution by asserting the importance of freedom of expression and tolerance for the Russian anarchists. Goldman's challenge to the tide of unquestioned enthusiasm for the Bolshevik experiment was heard across Europe, Asia, and the Americas. In fact, her warnings about the troublesome suppression of dissent in Russia were printed in almost every language. Translations of Goldman's articles and her book My Disillusionment in Russia appeared in Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, French, German, Swedish, even Russian.

Among the collection's more poignant examples of Goldman's work against authoritarianism is the large body of material tracing the often neglected history of the anarchist movement and the concurrent revolution in Spain during the civil war period. These documents stem from the time in Goldman's life when she functioned as an official representative of the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo-Federación Anarquista Ibérica (CNT-FAI). The papers from this period, therefore, include not only her private letters and observations about events during the Spanish civil war, but also the formal reports of and internal memoranda among different factions within the anarchist ranks.

Many of the papers of anarchist organizations were dispersed after the civil war. Some were rescued by the International Institute of Social History and taken to Amsterdam, some remained among the papers of the CNT, others with the FAI, still others with the SIA (Solidaridad Internacional Antifascista), and only a sampling of newspapers and photographs were salvaged in personal collections scattered across the globe. The Spanish and Catalan material within The Emma Goldman Papers, then, represents an important contribution to the documentary history of the anarchist revolutionary movement during the civil war.

Goldman's position as the English-language representative in London of the CNT-FAI gave her extraordinary access to information about the events and developments within the anarchist movement in Spain from 1936 to 1938. Not one to submit easily to authority herself, Goldman struggled to reconcile her diplomatic responsibilities as an official representative of the CNT-FAI with her profound distrust of their policy of collaboration in government with Moscow-aligned antifascist forces. Her papers from this period reveal this internal struggle. The material chronicling her continued work with the women and children refugees of the war reflects the workings of the international support network for the defeated and displaced of the war.


The International Institute of Social History (IISH) in Amsterdam has done more than any other archive to collect and preserve the papers of prominent anarchists. Goldman considered the archive:

"perhaps the most unique in the world. It certainly has the most perfect collection, dating over a hundred years, of Anarchist writing in every language of the world, and . . . an equally great mass of material of the social struggle in general."9
Max Nettlau, an Austrian anarchist historian and Goldman correspondent who had one of the largest anarchist collections in the world, contributed his papers to the Institute. In the wake of threatening developments in Austria that presaged the beginning of World War II, the Institute took the responsibility of guaranteeing the safety of those documents entrusted to them by Nettlau and hundreds of other individuals and organizations through an elaborate mechanism of dispersal and concealment. When its dispersed collections were reassembled in the 1950s, the Institute realized Nettlau and Goldman's earlier expectation that the preservation of their papers would ensure that no shifts in political power could destroy their documentary history.

Many of Goldman's close correspondents, including Rudolf and Milly Rocker, Mollie Steimer and Senya Fleshin, and others whose papers include Goldman letters, either deposited their papers at the Institute during their lifetime or eventually had their papers deposited by relatives or collectors, aware that IISH functions as a magnet for scholars of radical history.

Though European scholars had been making the pilgrimage to IISH for years, a new wave of American scholars began to use its resources in the 1960s after reading about Goldman in Richard Drinnon's biography, Rebel in Paradise. It was a remarkable event in the history of international scholarly cooperation for the staff of the Institute to copy all of its Goldman holdings for inclusion in The Emma Goldman Papers.


The government surveillance and legal documents in the microfilm edition are among the most valuable in the collection. Through the prism of Goldman's life, the researcher will have a rare glimpse into the inner workings of the mechanisms of surveillance and firsthand access to government agent reports. A new construction of Goldman's identity emerges from the perspective of the surveillance reports and from the internal memoranda of the Department of Justice, the State Department, the Office of Naval Intelligence, the Military Intelligence Division, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Department of Labor, and the Post Office Department, as varied as that constructed by the press, or the anarchists, socialists, or progressives of her time.

Documents in the collection generated by state and federal officials reveal conflicting ideas about the level of dissent considered acceptable by intelligence-gathering divisions of different branches of government prior to the consolidation of surveillance in the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). One can also trace the rise of J. Edgar Hoover, the first director of the FBI, as he built his career in part on the surveillance and deportation of Emma Goldman.

Strong evidence also emerges from the documents that the mechanisms of surveillance and repression may have been more severe when applied to Goldman, whose politics, gender, ethnic identity, and immigrant status marginalized her and made her more vulnerable than other dissenters to the abuses of power. Documents from government files reveal violations of the law by law-enforcement officials themselves in their monitoring of the activities and associates of Emma Goldman and include many copies of letters assumed to be private under attorney-client privilege. In an internal government memorandum written in 1917, Francis Caffey, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, suggested one reason why she was considered so threatening:

"Emma Goldman is a woman of great ability and of personal magnetism, and her persuasive powers are such to make her an exceedingly dangerous woman."10
The records of Goldman's deportation in 1919 continue to be instructive on the history of alien radicals in America and, as a case study, will be of great use to legal scholars.

The government documents collection records the active surveillance of Goldman until the day she died. Given the extent of her travels, tracking her movements, associations, and impact entailed a tremendous cooperative effort by surveillance agencies across the world. The collection includes material from British, French, German, Swedish, Russian, Japanese, and Canadian police files. Foreign governments often monitored Goldman's activities because they perceived her as a threat to the stability of their own countries: for example, Goldman's support of Japanese activist Kotoku Shusui during his trial for high treason, a case that became a rallying point for the international movement for freedom of expression, is well documented in Japan's police records. Russian police files include reports written before the revolution tracing Goldman's participation in the American Friends of Russian Freedom, part of the police attempt to monitor the growing international anti-Czarist movement. French police files reveal that Goldman's movements were closely followed when she visited Paris at the turn of the century in part because the French authorities mistakenly suspected that as a prominent anarchist she played a role in Gaetano Bresci's assassination of King Umberto of Italy. The police files in the microfilm collection also offer an unusual perspective on the treatment of alien radicals in the United States and abroad and indicate early attempts to coordinate surveillance and consolidate intelligence bureaus.

The unusual number of U.S. government surveillance and interoffice reports in the collection is in part the result of the skills of government archivists who worked with the research staff of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission at the National Archives and knew best how to find material among the many old government files and how to arrange for its declassification.

Once acquired, the government documents required editorial work beyond the contextual essays, identification headers, and indexes prepared for the correspondence and writings series of the microfilm. Without further explanatory material some of the government documents would have been almost incomprehensible to the general researcher. To remedy this problem, the Project employed a lawyer to summarize each government document, provide cross-references to related material, and assign subject entries for indexing. Brief essays supply the context for groups of documents. Because of this editorial apparatus, the extensive government collection will be accessible and a valuable resource for historians and legal scholars, whether or not they are engaged with the study of Goldman.


Any major historical collection owes its existence to an odd combination of painstaking, structured research and chance discovery. This Project began with the serendipitous discovery of a boot box filled with Emma Goldman's passionate love letters to Ben Reitman. The letters revealed hidden aspects of Goldman's life, especially the self-doubt and jealousy she experienced in her relationship with Reitman. In an era of resurgent feminism, when there was a general eagerness to broaden the historical record to include women and to take seriously the importance of the issues those women faced, I wrote Love, Anarchy, and Emma Goldman. The organizing principle of the biography was the conflict Goldman experienced between her public vision and her private reality, her valiant but unsuccessful attempt to be the living embodiment of her anarchist principles. The book highlighted what Goldman identified as her source of strength--her ability to align herself to the future, which enabled her to transcend the profound cycles of depression that accompanied her many disappointments in love and politics, and to influence the course of history.

The National Historical Publications and Records Commission of the National Archives heard about the extensive research the biography entailed and asked if I would build upon that material as the foundation for editing a more comprehensive edition of Emma Goldman's papers. Now, more than fourteen years later, the collection of ten thousand documents that I used to write the biography has been expanded to almost thirty thousand documents for the microfilm edition.

In contrast to the astonishing discovery of Goldman's love letters in a shoe box in a guitar shop, the process of locating the major collections of Goldman material was by no means as exotic. Almost every scholarly article and book written from Goldman-related source material yielded new sources. Foremost among such publications was Richard Drinnon's biography, Rebel in Paradise, and Richard and Anna Maria Drinnon's collection of letters in exile of Goldman and Alexander Berkman, Nowhere at Home. From these volumes, and Goldman's autobiography, Living My Life, the Project compiled lists of Goldman's major correspondents and the locations of significant collections containing, or possibly containing, Goldman documents.

Among books not devoted primarily to Goldman, the most helpful were those written by Paul Avrich on the history of the anarchist movement in Russia and the United States, works whose sources guided us to collections, including his own personal archive of the papers of elder anarchists he had come to know over his many years of research and writing.

Archival finding aids were also helpful, providing listings not only for Goldman material, but also for her associates or known correspondents. The Project had the advantage of previewing an updated edition of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission's Directory of Archives and Manuscript Repositories in the United States, and the National Union Catalogue of Manuscript Collections, which proved to be an invaluable research tool. Other guides important to our search for documents were Andrea Hinding's Women's History Sources: A Guide to Manuscript Collections in the United States, Notable American Women, and The Russian Empire and Soviet Union: A Guide to Manuscripts and Archival Materials in the United States.

Work with the finding aids formed the basis of a mail search that laid the groundwork for subsequent visits to U.S. archives with significant holdings. The initial mailing included a brief description of the Project, a short biography of Emma Goldman, a list of key associates whose names might appear within the manuscript collections, and a self-addressed reply card. A total of 511 libraries in the United States and 91 in Canada were contacted, as well as a more modest number of foreign archives. The number of mail inquiries over the years reached nine hundred institutions. With more specific information about each archive, the Project mapped out a clear and economical search plan for countries to which the cost of travel and expenses were prohibitively high. The mail search was also useful for the acquisition of single items in small collections, thus freeing staff time for more productive research trips to archives with larger Goldman holdings. Among the archives with substantial collections of Goldman material are the New York Public Library, Yale University Libraries, University of Illinois at Chicago Library, the National Archives, the Tamiment Library at New York University, the Labadie Collection at the University of Michigan Library, the Schlesinger Library at Radcliffe College, the Houghton Library at Harvard University, Boston University Special Collections, the Huntington Library, the Library of Congress, Smith College Library, and the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University.

Most of Goldman's personal papers from her early activist years (in the late nineteenth century and beginning of the twentieth century) have not survived. These early papers were seized during the 1917 raid on the offices of Mother Earth by J. Edgar Hoover, and when Goldman tried to recover them she discovered that most of them had been subsequently destroyed. In an attempt to offset this loss, the Project staff conducted an intensive search to locate Goldman's earliest published writings (most of which appeared in obscure and short-lived anarchist newspapers) and the extensive interviews with Goldman in the mainstream press. This search not only uncovered a significant amount of Goldman writing, but also revealed that press coverage had made her a famous (or infamous) radical long before the red scare wrought by the McKinley assassination. The newspaper stories on Goldman in this period, which are reproduced in the Goldman Writings series, provide further evidence of the period's yellow journalism, especially its anti-radical bias and demonization of the Left. Also apparent from this material is the explanation for Goldman's lifelong scorn for the bourgeois press in the United States, as well as her ongoing efforts to utilize the press to her advantage.

Language-specific searches extended not only to foreign archives, but to newspapers and special manuscript collections of various immigrant communities in the United States. Most prominent among such material are the documents from early Yiddish newspapers and memoirs that trace Goldman's place in the Yiddish-speaking immigrant community.

The Project enlisted the advice of scholars in many fields whose work was in some way related to Goldman, her time, or her activities. Scholars researching archival collections for their own work often alerted us to letters or articles by Goldman. Such scholarly generosity and cooperation led to many of the Project's rare and unusual discoveries.


The Emma Goldman Papers Project attempted to bridge the gap between the university and the community with public lectures, radio and television interviews, a traveling exhibition, and a middle and high school curriculum. An important consequence of this broad outreach was the unexpected discovery of Goldman material that otherwise might have been unknown to the Project. The most dramatic of such acquisitions came in response to a young Indian student's letter to her mother in the Himalayas about the lecture on Emma Goldman she had just attended. To the Project's great delight, when her mother visited California she brought a sizable correspondence between the student's great-grandmother and Goldman that had been preserved in a trunk since the 1920s.


Fortunately, more than forty years after Goldman's death when the Emma Goldman Papers Project began its search, there were many living Goldman associates who were enthusiastic about sharing their memories. Those who offered their reminiscences and insights enriched the Project's knowledge of Goldman, as well as the lives of those of us who came in contact with them. Whenever possible, these interviews have been transcribed and will appear in the addendum reel.

Among those who shared their recollections and contributed to the support of The Emma Goldman Papers was the Italian anarchist Arthur Bortolotti. Just before she died in 1940 and after Canada passed the War Measures Act, Goldman organized a support committee in Toronto to protest Bortolotti's threatened deportation to Italy and to free him from a Canadian jail. Also interviewed was Roger Baldwin, who spoke about the forces of repression that swept the United States in the wake of its entry into World War I. He discussed the labor and radical roots of the early American Civil Liberties Union and asserted that his inspiration for founding the organization came from Goldman, whom he considered the heroine of the movement for freedom of expression in America.

Many other interviews with Goldman associates added a special dimension to the Project's imagined picture of Emma Goldman: Federico and Pura Arcos reminisced about the excitement of encountering the grandmotherly Goldman when they were part of the anarchist youth movement in Spain during the civil war; author Meridel Le Sueur told the story of living in Goldman's collective house when she was a fifteen-year-old drama student in New York; Mollie Ackerman and Millie Desser both remembered helping Emma type her letters when they were young girls, and reminisced about the personal interest Goldman took in their lives, their loves, even their clothes. Dan Malmed, whose father fell in love with Emma and shared this secret with his young son, devoted a large part of his life to the collection and preservation of Goldman's letters, taped recollections of her associates, and then, to spare his mother the humiliation, waited until her death to deposit his father's correspondence with Goldman in an archive. Ian and David Ballantine, Goldman's great-nephews, remembered the adventures of their imposing aunt Emma and the many family rifts, as well as elevated events, created by her controversial and demanding presence. Many activists who visited Goldman in Europe and Canada shared their stories and reflections with the Project. The variety of interviews in the collection enhances the Goldman papers and adds a certain element of nuance often missing from a solely written documentary record.

Among the many written reminiscences collected over the years, the most visceral came in a letter from composer David Diamond, the son of Goldman's seamstress in Rochester, who had just read Love, Anarchy, and Emma Goldman and felt so moved by the recreation of her spirit that he "could almost smell the rosewater on her hands." Indeed, the human connections around the world and across time have been among the most rewarding experiences of working on the papers, and added a vibrancy and freshness befitting the life of Emma Goldman.

It is with great satisfaction that I present the documents that comprise The Emma Goldman Papers--the work of over fourteen years, and the fruits of the cooperative effort of hundreds of scholars, archivists, researchers, and social activists around the world.

Candace Falk

December 5, 1994

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1. Goldman to Harry Weinberger, Jan. 9, 1939, Emma Goldman Archive (International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam).

2. Goldman to Ben Reitman, Jan. 11, 1928, Ben L. Reitman Papers (University of Illinois at Chicago Library).

3. Goldman to Weinberger, Jan. 9, 1939.

4. William Marion Reedy, "The Daughter of the Dream," St. Louis Mirror, Nov. 5, 1908.

5. Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays, (1910; New York, Dover Publications, 1969), 50, 62.

6. Albert Parry, Garrets and Pretenders: A History of Bohemianism in America, (New York: Covici, Friede, 1933), 289.

7. Goldman to Horace Liveright, July 17, 1929, Emma Goldman Archive.

8. [Angelica] Balabanoff to V. I. Lenin, Feb. 1920 (Central Party Archives of the Institute of Marxism-Leninism, Moscow).

9. Goldman to Lillian and William Mendelsohn, Jan. 23, 1939, Lillian Mendelsohn Papers (Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe College, Cambridge, Mass.).

10. Quoted in Richard Drinnon, Rebel in Paradise: A Biography of Emma Goldman, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961), 21.

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