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America and the Dictators: Confronting Fascism on the Eve of WWII

Historical Figures

African American leaders, journalists, writers, thinkers, activists:

WEB DuBois -- public intellectual, founder, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
(Papers at: )

Mary McLeod Bethune -- educator and civil rights activist (Papers at:

A Philip Randolph -- organized and led the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the first predominantly African-American labor union

Bayard Rustin -- civil rights activist and leftist, in 1941, with Randolph and Norman Thomas, leader of the Socialist Party, planned a March on Washington, cancelled after concessions from FDR.

FDR’s “black Cabinet:

  • Robert L Vann -- Attorney; publisher and editor of the Pittsburgh Courier
  • William Henry Hastie Jr --assistant solicitor for the United States Department of the Interior; first African American federal judge
  • Rayford W. Logan -- historian; professor at Howard University
  • Robert C. Weaver -- aide to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes

Joel A. Rogers: columnist for Pittsburgh Courier. African American journalist, author, and lay historian; first Negro war correspondent in the U.S.; b. Joel Augustus Rogers in Jamaica. Papers at Fisk University (

George Schuyler, Pittsburgh Courier

Dan Burley, Chicago Defender

Roi Ottley, NY Amsterdam News

Ralph Matthews, Baltimore Afro-American

Ralph Bunche (Papers at NYPL: )


Male public figures/journalists in pubic debate over Fascism, War

Louis Fischer, left win writer, journalist;   covered the Sp civil war;  in 1938, he returned to the United States and settled in New York. He continued to work for The Nation; see autobio, Men and Politics (1941). The Louis Fischer Papers at Princeton ( ) include correspondence, interviews, articles and notes, lectures and speeches, photographs, and audiovisual materials that document his life as a journalist, writer, and commentator on international affairs.

Ralph Ingersoll -- managing editor of Time-Life Publications; creator of Fortune magazine.

Marshall Field -- heir to the Marshall Field department store fortune, and a leading financial supporter and founding board member of Saul Alinsky's community organizing network Industrial Areas Foundation.

Harold Ickes -- Secretary of the Interior

Dwight Macdonald. Dwight Macdonald was for almost fifty years a productive and influential critic of politics, society, and culture in the United States and abroad. He is especially well-known for his writing on film, mass culture, and political ideas, but few subjects of humanistic interest have altogether escaped his attention. At different times he wrote regularly for Fortune, Partisan ReviewThe New Internationalpolitics (which he also edited and published), The New YorkerEncounter, and Esquire,and his articles appeared occasionally in dozens of other periodicals. Among his longer works are The Root Is Man,"Masscult and Midcult," several volumes of essays, studies of Henry Wallace and the Ford Foundation, editions of Edgar Allan Poe and Alexander Herzen, and an anthology of parodies. He was also an important member and critic of a number of political movements and organizations, ranging in time from the Socialist Workers Party in the late 1930s to the anti-war movement in the late 1960s. Papers at Yale.

Archibald MacLeish -- poet; writer and editor for Fortune; Librarian of Congress, 1939-1944. (Papers at LoC: )

Reinhold Niebuhr. Theologian. Papers at LoC.

Robert Sherwood --  playwright, editor, and screenwriter; President of the Dramatists Guild of America, 1937-39. Papers at Harvard:

Vincent Sheean, journalist. Covered Spanish Civil War for NY Herlad Tribune. Some papers at Syracuse.

William Shirer, CBS journalist (Papers at Coe College )


Women writers, journalists, activists of note

Lillian Hellman

Margaret Bourke-White

Virginia Cowles

Clare Booth Luce

Martha Gellhorn

Eleanor Roosevelt -- First Lady of the U.S.

Dorothy Thompson, journalist, columnist.

Freda Kirchwey. Mary Frederika "Freda" Kirchwey (September 26, 1893 – January 3, 1976); journalist, editor, and publisher; From 1933 to 1955, she was editor of the Nation magazine. Papers at Harvard: 

Helen Rogers Reid. Papers at LoC. 

Jewish leaders, jurists, organizations

Rabbi Stephen Wise -- prominent Reform rabbi; friend of FDR; organized 1933 boycott of Germany, and 1936 World Jewish Congress. His papers are in American Jewish Archives, in Ohio. Finding aid of his papers:

Louis Brandeis -- U.S. Supreme Court Justice. Papers at Brandeis Univ.

Felix Frankfurter -- legal scholar and after 1939, US Supreme Court Justice: he successfully recommended many bright young lawyers toward public service with the New Deal administration. Papers at LoC:

World Jewish Congress, 1936, Stephen Wise and Nahum Goldmann -- International organization formed in 1936 to strengthen Jewish unity and political influence.