Today we’re contemplating two new-ish, seemingly unrelated collections that each portray wildly opposite views on the same topics. In this case: socialism and communism. One collection–the papers of early 20th-century activist Thomas Hickey–was chock full of cartoons like the one above, as well as pamphlets and letters advocating for labor unions, socialism, and similar propositions.
The other collection came from Texas women’s rights activist Hermine Tobolowsky. Her primary focus was on the Texas Equal Legal Rights Amendment for women. 99% of the boxes and folders in her collection are had nothing to do with Hickey’s raison d’etre. But that 1% was anti-communism through and through. Items such as the image above suggest she was dead-set on educating the population against the communists.
Hickey was the private secretary to Eugene V. Debs, who was a founder of the IWW, found himself before the Supreme Court on one occasion, and more than a few times ran for the office of U.S. President. As a result of their close connection, Hickey’s papers contain many pamphlets published by Debs, his family members, and others.
It’s a fairly safe bet that Tobolowsky would not have been a Debs fan. While socialism and communism are two distinctly different philosophies, Tobolowsky’s papers don’t bother with the distinction. Teaching materials for K-12 students, anti-communist mailings and pamphlets, and a host of other items testify to that fact. The above warning from J. Edgar Hoover is the most classic of its kind, however. Vintage Red Scare!
Both collections also contain a whole lot more about the rest of their lives and careers. You can find Tobolowsky’s finding aid here, while Hickey’s materials have been digitized in their entirety over here. Take a look through them, and if you see something you want to see more of, give us a call!