Fruits of the Socialist Revival

  • Jake Altman


The socialist revival of the 1930s offered tangible organizing successes. Soviet House and Highlander Folk School were attempts to put socialist ideals into practice. They represented the socialist revival’s vibrancy and success at the local level and refute claims that the revival resulted in little more than renewed factionalism or at best an alternative vision never put into practice. Idealism could produce practical benefits for human society and could and did create real organizing successes that adapted to American political life. The socialist vision did change. Socialists did adapt to the conditions in the United States. First, however, they experimented. The existence of the productive socialist network that fostered Soviet House and Highlander challenges the image of the Socialist Party in the 1930s.

The socialist revival of the 1930s offered tangible organizing successes. Soviet House and Highlander Folk School were each attempts to put socialist ideals into practice. They represented some of the revival’s vibrancy and success at the local level and refute claims that the revival resulted in little more than renewed factionalism or at best an alternative vision never put into practice. Even utopian idealism imbued with Marxist certainty, serving as metaphorical spark, could produce practical benefits for human society. This idealism could and did give way to real organizing successes and adapted to American political life. The socialist vision did change. Socialists did adapt to the conditions in the United States.1 First, however, they experimented. The existence of the productive socialist network that fostered Soviet House and Highlander challenges the image of the Socialist Party in the 1930s. It was not a complacent party, absorbed only in the petty internal struggles. Rather socialists experimented in the 1930s, striving to make the world they envisioned a reality. This, more than destructive factionalism, is the legacy of socialism in the 1930s.

Soviet House

Founded in 1933, Soviet House, a row house located in Philadelphia’s Kensington neighborhood, was an important site of socialist experimentation.2 North Fifth Street was home to Philadelphia’s radical socialists.3 It served as cooperative housing, a center for SP activity, and a hub for union organizing efforts in the region. The community lasted for seven years and underwent transformations as its members’ politics and the labor movement changed through the 1930s.4 Franz Daniel was among Soviet House’s founding members. Daniel lived in the house, where Zilla Hawes visited him often. During their time in Philadelphia, Daniel and Hawes worked in the labor movement alongside their comrades at Soviet House—who made up the core of socialist labor activists in Philadelphia and across the river in Camden, New Jersey—aiding working people in their struggles to organize labor unions.5

The communality of Soviet House was tied to its members’ socialist identifications and desire to live out their ideals. Alice Cook confessed in her memoir that the people who lived and worked out of Soviet House “became an intimate group.” Clarifying, she continued, “What today might be called a commune.”6 Cook remembered the communal atmosphere in the context of the games that the group developed for leisure. The lively socialists of Soviet House would gather and create “rhymes about current events as we viewed them.” Their songs carried acerbic political content. Cook remembered one rhyme that castigated George Meany, at the time a prominent labor leader in the region and future leader of AFL and then the merged AFL-CIO, for his perceived misunderstanding of the economic crisis and his advocacy of entente with American capitalism: “Eeny, Meany, meiny mo, / American capital, go, stop, go! / You can stuff your planning / Of investment and manning / If profits continue to grow.”7 Cook’s experience at Soviet House was so meaningful that she and her husband decided to name their son Phillip Jeffrey after their “Soviet Housemates, Philip Van Gelder and Newman Jeffrey.”8

A socialist ethos shaped Philadelphia’s Soviet House. Alice Cook remembered that life at Soviet House was financed in a way that helped spread the economic burden among residents with differing income levels. Each member of the community contributed a percentage of their earnings to the household’s finances: “Our whole method of living there was that each of us contributed one-quarter of what we earned each month to keep the house going. And since most of the inmates were on relief, that meant that their monthly contribution was $15.” The purpose of Soviet House, wrote Cook, was to “live together, share poverty and intermittent work, as we combined our talents and resources to assist with community efforts to meet the depression and spread the Socialist word.”9 Cook also remembered that Soviet House, like its counterpart Highlander Folk School, functioned as an unofficial extension of the SP: “We took in waifs and strays and committed wanderers, some sent to us by Norman Thomas, who I think used us as a dumping ground for the impossibles and as a training ground for the possibles.”10 Soviet House was an alternative form of housing, an intentional community, and a vibrant center of labor activity.

Soviet House connected college-educated socialists to the labor movement, cooperation that foreshadowed the future trajectory of the socialist movement. Alice Cook recalled, “Out of that house moved much of the dedication, the useful promise of those of us who were young in the 1930s.”11 Cook also remembered that Franz Daniel “made the place a vibrant, intensive discussion, never sleepy, always hoping, always planning, always active center.”12 Eventually, Daniel and Philip Van Gelder were “loaned” by the SP to the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America’s organizing campaign in northeastern Pennsylvania, which reflected the SP’s role as a proving ground for talented organizers, who would then graduate into social-democratic unions.13 Both men eventually worked for the ACWA in a more permanent capacity, as did Zilla Hawes.14

The courage and dedication of socialists helped to build the labor movement. Capturing the moment of experimentation and radical fervor, Cook characterized Soviet House as “a group with diversity, with dedication, often with foolishness, sometimes with courage.”15 Many of Soviet House’s alumni went on to important positions within the labor movement and as such were politic enough to distance themselves from previous activities that might have opened them up to critique from opponents inside and outside the labor movement. Notable residents of Soviet House included Franz Daniel, Alice Cook, Paul Porter, Eleanor Nelson, Newman Jeffrey, Miriam “Gob” Seaman, Philip Van Gelder, Wesley Cook, and Michael Harris.16 Zilla Hawes and Mildred McWilliams, later Mildred Jeffrey, visited frequently while courting their future husbands, Daniel and Jeffrey.17 Other important figures in the burgeoning industrial union movement were neighbors or visitors to Soviet House. John Green—an SP member who emigrated from the shipyards of Clydeside in Scotland and became president of the Industrial Union of Marine and Shipbuilding Workers of America, which won its foundational strike in 1934—lived with his family in a row house directly behind Soviet House.18 Emil Rieve, president of the American Federation of Full-Fashioned Hosiery Workers and later the Textile Workers Union of America, also regularly visited Soviet House, which hosted frequent discussions on socialist policy.19 Soviet House welcomed a number of socialists who traveled to Philadelphia in the 1930s.20 Alice Cook, who had connections to the socialist movement in Germany, helped to see that two comrades, officers of the German Carpenters’ Union, found refuge first at Soviet House and later at Highlander Folk School.21 When the CIO was established, its roving organizers found sustenance at Soviet House, too. “And when the CIO moved in,” Alice Cook said, “and was organized or was in the process of organizing many of the great figures of the CIO, Charlie Ervin, many others came to us, shared our rather simple meals.”22 Ervin was a close associate of Sidney Hillman, president of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America.23

The movement for industrial democracy benefited from socialist support, particularly in terms of the confident young leaders that Thomas and the SP had mentored. The Philadelphia taxi strike, the Schwedische Kugel Fabrik strike in Kensington, and the success of the Industrial Union of Marine and Shipbuilding Workers of America were victorious organizing efforts rooted in Soviet House’s socialist community. Soviet House provided aid for each of these campaigns.24 In 1934, Alice Cook worked to develop a local of the American Federation of Teachers to which she was elected secretary.25 Van Gelder and John Green led a strike of over three thousand workers at the New York Shipbuilding Company in Camden, NJ, just across the Delaware River—patrolled by union pickets on boats during the strike—from Soviet House.26

When the recalcitrant employer of the city’s taxicab drivers locked the union’s members out of their jobs for expressing pro-union sentiments, nine local unions went on strike in support of the cabbies. Socialists were responsible for much of the organizing impetus behind this action. Paul Porter and Franz Daniel helped organize the 900 taxicab drivers in late 1933 and led them to a victory when the employer’s lockout was transformed into a strike that resulted in a largely unionized fleet of cabs in Philadelphia.27 The strike of Philadelphia Taxi Drivers’ Union Local 156 attracted great support from the nine other locals of the International Brotherhood Teamsters (IBT), who then engaged in sympathy actions. These sympathy strikes had not been sanctioned by the IBT, which makes these efforts at labor unity in the city and the union’s eventual victory all the more extraordinary.28 The strike also affirmed among socialist radicals that Roosevelt’s government and the NIRA were instruments of capitalism. The National Labor Board was used to entice some of the IBT locals back to work with the promise of higher wages via a friendly decision in a wage dispute.29 This skepticism would soon be challenged. At the time he led the strike, Porter had replaced Franz Daniel as the SP’s organizer in Philadelphia.30 In establishing Porter’s fitness for the important position of the SP’s labor secretary, The New Leader testified to the scope of the Soviet House socialist’s abilities to build a dynamic labor movement in Philadelphia.

Porter and his comrades were directly involved in Philadelphia’s most important labor struggles.31 Beyond the taxi strike, Soviet House’s socialists were involved in the 1933 Philadelphia Storage Battery Co. (referred to colloquially as “Philco”) strike, a strike that provided the initial spark for the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America (UE) and initiated conflicts within the AFL’s arcane system of trade union organization.32 Taking advantage of the protections offered by the National Industrial Recovery Act and assisted by Rieve’s Full-Fashioned Hosiery Workers, the Philco strike was an impressive victory for the growing industrial union movement.33

Soviet House’s candidates for state and local office were less successful.34 Part of a larger socialist slate, neither Franz Daniel, who ran for coroner, nor Philip Van Gelder, who sought the office of register of wills, won their elections in 1933.35 Even if the party failed to win elections in Philadelphia, the socialists at Soviet House demonstrated the efficacy of linking socialist ideals with the practical struggles of working people.

The origins of the name Soviet House remain murky. In the 1970s, Alice Cook took pains to point out that the neighbors—and not the residents—had named Soviet House.36 This may have been apocryphal, as the radical socialists at Highlander Folk School embraced the term “soviet” in the 1930s. Given that many of Soviet House’s members belonged to the RPC, which supported the concept of the workers’ council or soviet, it seems unlikely that its members would have found the term alien. In the context of the Cold War and given the ascent of Soviet House’s former members into the ranks of labor’s leadership and into government service, troubled associations with the term “soviet” made revision necessary. Cook, for instance, went into government service during WWII and later held high-profile posts at Cornell University, including the position of Ombudsperson.37 Cook, though, was fairly candid. She acknowledged associations that the right had used to damage many socialists and progressive liberals, though she was also aware of the destructive potential of McCarthyism.38 Cook recounts, for instance, a trip to Germany in 1933 as the “secretary-cum-interpreter” for Mary Van Kleeck— an alleged communist. Associations with Van Kleeck had been used as evidence of subversion in partisan attacks on other left-liberal activists.39

If Soviet House’s name later provoked a sense of unease, the staff members at Highlander Folk School in 1934 were less restrained in their use of the term “soviet” to describe the democratic meeting that governed the community program and regulated behavior.40 Highlander’s staff and students organized a “workers’ council” at their Allardt extension in June 1934. They defined a workers’ council as “a self-constituted body composed of the students and staff [that] governs the life, activities, and discipline of the summer school.”41 For them, the workers’ council, used interchangeably with “soviet,” was a means by which they could practice and model direct democracy. It was an important component of their political and social project.42 It also suggests that Highlander’s staff viewed social experiments with optimism and confirms an intellectual linkage with the Soviet House experiment in Philadelphia.

Highlander Folk School

Many excellent histories of Highlander, those written by both professional historians and former staff members, have explored the school’s origins and operations.43 Yet, these histories have not fully examined the importance of Highlander’s socialism and its role in determining the staff’s early understanding of their project, its communal aspects, and the broader transformative yearnings present at Highlander. This lacuna has resulted in a dearth of analysis of Highlander’s socialist-inspired commune and reinforces the assumption that Highlander itself was not explicitly or primarily a socialist project.44 Neglect of Highlander’s socialism and a failure to contextualize it also limits our understanding of the extent and nature of socialism’s revival in the 1930s. Highlander’s early years are difficult to interpret without a thorough examination of the school’s socialist context, which informed the shape of its inherently political community.

In the realm of ideas and in its networks of support, Highlander was a socialist school. Highlander owed much of its early content to the belief that capitalism was waning and a revolutionary uprising loomed on the horizon. And, like Soviet House, its early history was bound up in the revival of the SP in the 1930s. Highlander was a product of this socialist reawakening. Its embrace of workers’ councils as a method of democratic organization also reveals the appeal of the RPC’s ideas. Further, devoted staff members ready to sacrifice for the cause of socialism made up the ranks at Highlander. Leading socialists endorsed Highlander’s work, and the school found the socialist press ready to advertise its efforts and requests to the broader socialist movement. Norman Thomas and Reinhold Niebuhr took personal interest in the school’s welfare and in the development of its staff. In addition to occupying pride of place at the top of Highlander’s list of members on the advisory committee, both Thomas and Niebuhr were also keen to visit Highlander in 1933–1934.45 Highlander’s survival as an institution, then, was due, in part, to the socialist networks from which it drew support to find students, staff members, money, publicity, and, as discussed in previous chapters, its intellectual genesis.

Highlander’s initial choices for a location included a site offered to the school through contacts in the socialist movement. Following on a general commitment to work in the South, Myles Horton and Don West decided to establish their school near Monteagle, Tennessee, in Grundy County. This Monteagle site and not at the initially proposed Allardt, Tennessee, location was conditional. Dr. Lilian Johnson, a local education activist who wished to retire, offered Horton and West the use of her property for their new school on a trial basis. The Monteagle location had modern facilities, a big house, and, as such, offered Horton and West more of a start than the undeveloped Allardt location owned by Joe Kelley and Kate Bradford Stockton, socialist comrades with whom the Highlander staff were close.46 Later, Horton contextualized the plan to build an additional school at Allardt in 1934 as the result of Dr. Johnson’s initial unease with Highlander’s radical program, though it was also conceived and eventually became an expansion of Highlander into a new area.47

Grundy County proved a problematic choice for socialists who wished to foster a proletarian awakening. The land was poor. The forests had been cut down, and the mines were played out.48 Grundy County in the 1930s was an object lesson in what happens to extraction-driven economies when resources have been stripped away to benefit outside interests.49 The community and the land on which they lived were both impoverished. Grundy led Tennessee, and ranked very near the top nationally, in the proportion of people on relief in the middle of the decade.50 A highway running through the county provided its only real economic engine.51 With a nonexistent economic base and reliance on unfriendly local and regional administrators for relief jobs, the local community’s efforts to organize in the 1930s were vulnerable. They possessed little power to alter their circumstances.52 The realities of the region also helped to reshape Highlander’s expectations for the future and redirected its purpose. “We… found that our talk about brotherhood and democracy and shared experiences,” recalled Horton, “was irrelevant to people in Grundy County in 1932. They were hungry. Their problems had to do with how to get some food in their bellies and how to get to a doctor.”53 Revolutionary rhetoric did not feed hungry people. There were times when the diet of staff at Highlander was lean.

Staff members were conscious of Highlander as a socialist project from its earliest beginnings. In 1931, Zilla Hawes, who would later join Highlander’s staff, wrote to Myles Horton confirming her desire to work in the movement “as a socialist.”54 Both of Highlander’s initial founders—West and Horton—were card-carrying socialists and, as Don West’s biographer stressed, “Horton and West had made socialist organizing the central feature of [Highlander’s] program.”55 After the close of Highlander’s first term, The New Leader, the most prominent socialist paper in the country, lauded the school’s good work and praised Highlander for its contributions to the furtherance of “the cooperative commonwealth.”56 Don West’s plan for a chain of libraries dedicated to workers and located throughout Georgia was also praised in the pages of The New Leader: “The necessity for books is highly stressed and all individuals who wish to co-operate are invited to correspond with Don West, Georgia Workers Co-operative Library, Kennesaw, Georgia.”57 West’s plan to establish libraries for workers in Georgia fit well with the socialist emphasis on an auto-didactic program for informing working people of the benefits of a socialist society.

Highlander was a recognized outpost of socialism. Highlander’s staff organized a local of the SP for the area, though it remained small.58 One of Highlander’s students from the local community reported, “one just had to be around [Highlander’s staff] and in the community for a short while until one became a socialist.”59 Don West, who was briefly the state organizer for Tennessee’s branch of the SP, also published poetry in addition to appeals for support in the New Leader.60 West’s poem spoke of poverty in the South and the death-dealing toil that condemned workers to an early grave. A reviewer for the New Leader, S. A. DeWitt, described West as “a Socialist poet” and informed readers that the money raised from the sale of West’s book of poems would help to fund Highlander Folk School. DeWitt’s review of his comrade’s work was wholly positive.61

In 1933, Highlander helped to foster a branch of the YPSL. Staff put on a “socialist summer school,” which was organized in cooperation with the SP.62 The “Yipsels,” as members of the YPSL were called, put out a weekly broadsheet titled Nit Wit: Live and Learn. Nit Wit, most of the paper was apparently cribbed from the American Guardian, a paper edited by Oklahoma socialist Oscar Ameringer. The students’ selections provide clues about the intellectual atmosphere at Highlander. One short piece compared workers in “6932 B.C.” to their modern counterparts in “1933 A.D.” The workers of the precapitalist world each created a surplus, and, in the end, realizing their bounty when the products of their labors were shared, called out together in glee, “Whoopee! Let’s eat, drink, love, snooze and make merry until we need more.” By contrast, the modern workers, who had also created a surplus, were bound by capitalism to have this wealth expropriated from them. They cried, “Come on, everybody, let’s starve, freeze, go naked and homeless together.”63 The Yipsels hit out at capitalism’s inhumanity in poem after poem, saying after saying, and sketch after sketch. They denounced contemporary economic thinking: “We were taught to believe that capitalists create employment, and now we are learning that capitalists create unemployment. Oh well, experience is the best teacher.”64 They lambasted politicians, bureaucrats for forsaking the farmer and ridiculed the claim that overabundance was responsible for the economic crisis.65 They argued instead that private property and the insufficient sharing of all of the goods produced by human labor were at the root of the crisis. “No monkey ever went hungry,” one Yipsel included, “because there was a ‘No Trespassing’ sign on a coconut tree!”66 Another wondered if a mouse had ever “starved to death in a hunk of cheese because the hunk was bigger than she could eat.” “No,” replied Nit Wit, “maybe it was the fellow who doped out the term ‘over-production’ while dying of malnutrition.”67

When it came time to recruit help for Highlander’s ambitious second location, the staff used their socialist networks to find recruits. Recruitment for this project was particularly difficult because, as James Dombrowski explained, “the only remuneration we can promise them is the experience of working in a thoroughly interesting mountain community, good fellowship, and the participation in a significant social adventure.”68 Prospective workers were expected to contribute five dollars a week in expenses.69 James Dombrowski wrote to Andrew Biemiller, who was then education director in the SP’s Milwaukee stronghold and editor of the city’s socialist newspaper, asking for help finding student workers willing to spend the summer building socialism. Biemiller was not optimistic about finding willing recruits who would pay their way to work on the school’s new buildings and farm, but he offered to run a feature on Highlander and its recruitment efforts in his paper, The Milwaukee Leader.70 Howard “Buck” Kester, another of Highlander’s socialist comrades, also recommended students.71 Dombrowski asked the League for Industrial Democracy (LID), a socialist organization for college students codirected by Norman Thomas and Harry Laidler, for help in identifying students for Highlander’s summer session and building program. While several LID members were already going to Highlander, the organization could find no more who would be able to pay their way to Allardt and wanted to do “straight manual labor” with no remuneration.72 When Highlander’s staff wanted reliable recruits to help with an ambitious building project planned for the summer of 1934, they also asked Norman Thomas to provide suggestions, which he did.73

Highlander’s relationship with Norman Thomas was particularly important to the school. Thomas offered to help the school financially and through his various connections. He wrote Myles Horton in the autumn of 1933, “My promise stills holds good that as soon as I get that legacy which is coming some time I’ll contribute to your school and your general work in the South. I do wish you all the luck in the world.”74 In response to a plea from Horton and West for books to populate their planned libraries for workers and “to conduct study classes in socialism,” Thomas added a suggestion for immediate and practical support: “I do think that possibly through the L.I.D. some arrangement might be made to send out a loan library recalling books from time to time.”75 Thomas traveled Wilder, Tennessee, when the town’s miners when out on strike to offer his support and to, at the behest of optimistic Highlander staff members, spread the gospel of the socialist movement.76 Thomas’s personal feelings for the younger socialists found expression in his regret at having missed them on a trip to Tennessee:

I was awfully sorry not to see you and Myles. I was going to stop and see Myles at the sanitarium but by mistake Clarence [Senior] and I took the wrong fork in the road and got to Nashville without passing the sanitarium. How is he now? Give him my love. Let me know how the financial situation looks to you. How many students have you? Thanks for the good news about active work [for the party] in Tennessee.77

His regard for their work and his concern for the project’s future were apparent.

Highlander’s staff cultivated a socialist culture at the school. Highlander’s leftwing rhetoric also included the occasional letter with the valedictions, “yours for the revolution,” “yours for a real revolution,” and the more tongue-in-cheek “yours for a functional revolution.”78 Capitalism was always due a good verbal flogging at Highlander.79 Staff members referred to one another as “comrade.” They were aware of various SP factions in the 1930s. Dombrowski reported back to his comrades after attending the convention proceedings of the United Textile Workers. He told them, “much of the Old Guard leadership has been reelected, and with such leadership the militant workers will have a hard fight.”80 The event had also given Dombrowski hope, as “a motion to approve the general strike in the event of war was lost by a narrow margin.”81 Staff members’ letters were sometimes signed “commissar,” indicating the young socialists’ continuing fascination with the Soviet Union.82 A hammer and sickle—perhaps sketched by Highlander staff member Mac Chisholm, the illustrator, puppeteer, and volunteer for the Spanish Civil War—artfully adorned the tops of the “Daily Records” written by Highlander comrades at Allardt.83 Perhaps not every person was pleased with the hammer and sickle, but its presence and the debate about communism and socialism indicate that the early to mid-1930s was a period, at least for some of those on the left of the SP, during which experimentation and cross-party intermingling were permissible. This was particularly true in the South. Highlander was far away from the intense and bitter battles in Northern cities where relations between the SP and the CP became increasingly hostile.84 For the socialists, who had lost to fascism their two most impressive political movements in Germany and Austria, the threat of rightwing reaction and all that it entailed remained greater than the CP.

Zilla Hawes connected the program of Highlander’s two soviets, one at Monteagle and one at Allardt, to the larger, international struggle of the socialists against fascism and in doing so firmly rooted Highlander within a tradition that viewed immediate action as an essential component of the project of social transformation. “Our movement,” Hawes opined, “must bear the kind of results the Austrian Socialists are showing in their determined opposition to fascist forces.”85 Hawes was far too optimistic. Under artillery bombardment, for which the socialist militia had no answer, armed resistance to fascism collapsed a few days after she wrote her letter. The small arms of the socialist rebels could not fend off the artillery of Austrian army, which was turned on the socialist-constructed apartment blocks that were the last redoubts of Red Vienna.86 Nonetheless, American socialists cheered the heroism of their fallen Austrian comrades. James Oneal, editor of The New Leader, called Austrian socialists’ resistance, “the most heroic struggle since the first captives of antiquity revolted against their enslavers.”87 The Highlander’s socialists held a similar view. They had finally found common ground with William Green, president of the AFL, who said, “The inhumane persecution of the Socialists and working people of Austria has excited the righteous indignation of all the working people in our country.”88

Highlander received support from the older socialists who tried to keep the torch of socialism aloft in Tennessee. This was a reciprocal relationship. As Highlander was supported by the remnants of Tennessee’s state branch of the SP, its staff members sought to revive the SP on the local and state level. In 1932, Zilla Hawes asked Myles Horton, “Has Debs left no imprint on the country to help you?”89 Debs had actually left a small imprint in Tennessee, which helped Highlander’s staff and was the basis of the second school at Allardt. The revival of Tennessee’s socialists was limited. There were few old members and younger members were concentrated at Highlander. Their ideas also revealed one of the reasons why the SP floundered after its brief revival: Roosevelt’s New Deal held a palpable attraction for socialists. The Tennessee socialists were organized enough to draft four resolutions and send them to President Roosevelt. It is not clear who was responsible for drafting the document. It was signed “State Executive Committee of Socialist Party of Tennessee,” and a further signature indicated that it was prepared by the state secretary, J. K. Stockton, a friend of Highlander’s staff members. In the document, Tennessee’s socialists demanded that President Roosevelt recognize the Soviet Union. Their argument for this recognition acknowledged the diplomatic, economic, and intellectual benefits of such a move. They urged Roosevelt to “abrogate the Platt Amendment” and affirm a bond of friendship and solidarity with the Cuban people. Further, they indicated that they thought the National Industrial Recovery Act was a good beginning and that the government planning of and control over “the three great elements of production, distribution and consumption” would yield great benefits for working people. They championed the Tennessee Valley Authority as an indication of what the government could accomplish in the lives of its people, and they held it to be a stupendous example of the efficacy of “government ownership, control and operation.” They urged President Roosevelt to “carry this through to the ultimate social good and a comprehending grateful humanity will crown the names of Roosevelt and Norris [a senator from Nebraska who was instrumental in passing the Tennessee Valley Authority Act in 1933, resisting the objections of private energy suppliers] with laurels of perpetual peace.”90 The older variants, older than the RPC’s aggressive strain, of socialism that remained in rural regions were quickly swept up by New Deal achievement. Most of the SP would join them.

Though immediately more sympathetic to the New Deal than his younger comrades, J. K. Stockton, shared Highlander’s affinity for intentional community and social transformation. He was, at least briefly, an adherent of the Revolutionary Policy Committee.91 Stockton had plans with the local SP and Highlander’s staff to open a children’s summer camp at Allardt, Tennessee, after a successful “Southern summer school for Socialist workers” was held at Highlander’s Monteagle location in 1933.92 In December 1933, Stockton’s land became the site of Highlander’s second unit when the socialist summer camp project morphed into a Highlander extension.93 Stockton and the Highlander’s plan never completely materialized. Stockton hoped to turn over 1000 acres of land into a cooperative with its own productive industries to provide employment and sustenance for a community hard hit by the economic crisis. It was a beautiful dream, a vision of Highlander’s community magnified to incorporate a much larger community.94 The Highlander project at Allardt captured Stockton’s hopes and dreams on a smaller scale, which explains why J. K. and Kate Bradford Stockton were generous patrons of school and friends to its staff.95

Committed socialists at Highlander and their allies throughout the state were not able to turn their incredible energy into a successful, full-fledged resurgence of socialism’s fortunes in Tennessee. Yet they were successful in developing education, political action, and labor organization, all key components of the socialist program, and they did attract some attention for the party.96 The SP’s few committed representatives in Tennessee during the revival quickly became involved in labor work, which eroded the amount of time they could spend on party work.97 This was true of Howard Kester, who provided vital support for the Wilder strike and later for the Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union. It was the same for Horton and West, who also provided support for the Wilder strike.98 In the spring of 1933, the New Leader published Don West’s heartrending report from the coalfields of Wilder, Tennessee. Barney Graham, union leader of a ten-month miners’ strike in Wilder, was assassinated on April 30, 1933. Graham and his family—who had become friendly with Highlander’s Horton and West, as well as socialists Howard and Alice Kester—were nearly destitute and he had gone out in the evening to find food and medicine for his sick wife. Men in the pay of the Fentress Coal and Coke Company shot Graham ten times and crushed his skull as he lay dying in the street outside the company’s store.99 Two of Graham’s murderers faced trial. They were acquitted.100 The Fentress Coal and Coke Company operated with impunity. Before the New Deal reforms in labor relations that sanctioned union representation and collective bargaining, only the collective force of the organized and implacable workers could hold the unmitigated power of the coal companies in check. The outbreak of strikes and the coal company’s actions provoked violence that would bring the National Guard—which did not operate as a neutral arbitrator. The Wilder strike was typical of this pattern of pre-NIRA and pre-Wagner labor relations. The socialists, including Norman Thomas who visited Wilder at Highlander’s request, had failed the striking miners not because they were wrong, weak, or too ideological.101 The strike failed because workers and their socialist supporters lacked the resources and power of the coal company and its allies in local and state government. The coal company’s use of violence broke the strike. Blacklisted miners eventually found some relief from federal agencies.102 Labor organizing came to occupy much of the staff’s time. The socialists were unable to resist the pull of working-class struggles.

Highlander’s relationship with some of the SP’s individual members, including its supporters, became tense when two of the school’s staff members and Franz Daniel, its close collaborator, endorsed the radical program of the RPC.103 Highlander staff’s public approval of the RPC stained its relationship with Kirby Page, a prominent Christian socialist, reformer, and pacifist, who resigned from Highlander’s advisory board over the supposedly revolutionary content of Highlander’s program.104 His disagreement with the RPC was public, though not his break with Highlander. Page attacked the RPC for leading “the workers into unnecessary dangers, [exposing] the Socialist movement to the intrigues of agents provocateurs, [diverting] the workers from the work of organization and education as the basic means of obtaining power, and [committing] the Socialist Party to the use of methods that will delay, instead of hastening—the triumph of Socialist ideals.”105 In turn, the RPC critiqued Page’s “reformism.”106 Page’s break with Highlander was unnecessary and was primarily about language and not substance; the school’s staff never abandoned or displaced the work of organizing and education. These two socialist strategies remained central to Highlander’s identity and mission throughout its existence. In a short time, many of the RPC’s members would agree with Page’s general conclusion that “such doctrines [armed insurrection and dictatorship of the proletariat] are not only in conflict with the position of the Socialist Party, but are subversive of its aims and purposes.”107 They embraced social democracy. By this time, however, they were firmly under the spell of the New Deal coalition and the SP was becoming irrelevant.

The socialists at Highlander differed from some of their party elders, though not Stockton, on an important point of socialist theory, the path to socialism. The comrades at Highlander believed that they could create a model of the new society. Some socialists put much less emphasis on individual or collective agency as the catalyst to create a socialist society, preferring to rely on historical abstractions. They favored waiting for history to unfold (i.e. the contradictions of capitalism would do the work for them) and give birth to a new world, or, they argued, that socialists could hardly be expected to usher in a new social order in a single locale.108 “Of course Socialists in control of a single city cannot establish Socialism there while the rest of the state and the nation remains capitalist,” wrote James Maurer, the SP’s vice-presidential candidate in 1932.109 The social-democratic vision of what was to be done was limited. “They cannot do much more than give a clean, honest, efficient, humane administration, free from graft,” explained Maurer, “thereby proving that workers are not all hands and no brains, as exploiters of labor would have the world believe. To do that is worth while.”110 Highlander, then, at the outset represented a rebellion against the received wisdom of the social democrats, though Highlander’s staff also advocated electoral action and helped local workers achieve limited success in that realm. They envisioned their work as truly transformational. They were bringing a new world into being.

No Perfect Place: Living Socialism at Highlander

Highlander’s program included an effort to model socialism, to build a new society amidst the perceived collapse of capitalism. Highlander’s intentional community was a direct consequence of the socialist ideology of its staff members, an ideology that, in the 1930s, had millenarian and utopian sentiments at its core. The staff’s vision of their project was unambiguous. They were building a new world in opposition to the old. Highlander’s efforts to create an alternative to capitalism can be properly characterized as an example of a socialist commune. The school’s staff explicitly rejected the idea that their project was “utopian” and hoped that it would be more engaged with the world than the inward-looking utopian efforts they had studied.

Highlander, despite the efforts of its staff, was a utopian project. It was carefully planned in accordance with the staff’s socialist principles and designed to represent the new way of living, the indisputable future. The staff’s ideological assumptions shaped the material and cultural foundation of the school and provided a common organizing goal of building a socialist community in a deliberate way. This ultimately proved too demanding a task. Tensions between staff members arose as an idyllic utopian ideal came into conflict with the realities of running a commune, a school, and providing aid for the labor movement. Highlander’s efforts to foster a living socialism were further inhibited by logistical and economic difficulties and by the demands of the labor movement.

The socialists who created Highlander were keen to build a community engaged with broader struggles of working people and capable of stoking the boilers of working-class unrest. They did not want to build Highlander for its own self-aggrandizement or as a colony that would distance itself from the main currents of society. Rather, the school’s staff wished to influence and transform society. The comrades at Highlander envisioned a political commune that would reach into the surrounding communities and, to paraphrase Zilla Hawes, spread a radical fire of socialism among the workers and peasants.111 Myles Horton believed that “the tie-up with the conflict situations and participation in community life keeps our school from being a detached colony or Utopian venture [indecipherable] our effort to live out our ideals makes possible the development of a bit of proletarian culture as an essential part of our program of worker education.”112 While their efforts were not entirely successful, these ideas set Highlander apart from other communal projects that had no basis in an explicitly party-political or theoretical-revolutionary movement. The radical socialist politics of the Highlander project were central to its communal project.

Staff members’ choice of governance confirms Highlander’s status as a commune, developing out of the RPC in the 1930s. They chose to name their democratic mechanism of government a workers’ council or “soviet.” By explicitly calling the governing body of the community a “soviet,” Highlander’s staff demonstrated the radical left of the SP was more than rhetoric; they were undertaking an experiment. Historians have traced the origins of soviets, or workers’ councils, to the Russian revolutions of 1905 and 1917 as well as the upheavals following WWI when, for a moment, it appeared that Europe might be engulfed in revolution.113 “Soviets” did not have their origins in the Bolshevik faction of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party. They were important enough for the Bolsheviks to incorporate—at least in name—into their new state.114 If socialists from the United States adopted the term to refer to their community’s governing structure, it was because they valued the workers’ council as a form of government with a base at what they saw as the very root of society.

Highlander’s staff differentiated their communal efforts from the capitalist society that they had come to reject. “Comrade Schlee returned to the Soviet yesterday,” one Highlander communard reported in the school’s work schedule for the summer of 1934. “He was gone into the wilds of civilization for approximately seven working days. He came in with tall tales of the capitalist world in general.”115 The Highlander Fling, the school’s newspaper, described the labor on Highlander’s Allardt extension as a part of the construction of a socialist world that the Highlander community was creating. “Everyone from the chief architect to the least wheel-barrow pusher,” read the Fling, “works without pay to transfer the dream of a new world into reality.”116 Highlander’s staff conceptualized their project as a revolutionary program. They were building an alternative to the capitalist society that had failed to provide for so many. There was no mincing of words about the intent and import of their project.

Highlander’s staff struggled to create an intentional community that remade people, social relationships, and education according to their understandings of socialist principles. Daily life became a didactic exercise. “Use actual things which occur here as illustrative material, in an objective way,” a member of Highlander’s staff told their comrades during a meeting. “To quote from Myles [Horton],” the staff member continued, “To make such discussions realistic we will have to use situations exactly as they are found in our own group.” Highlander’s commune was a model to work out the shape of the new world, which meant members of the Highlander community were test subjects. “This means that individuals must submerge their individualism and be willing to be used as illustrative material,” the staff member said, continuing to quote Horton, “Personal problems are important but do not come into this particular discussion except as they grow out of the larger and more immediate problem of group control and working class leadership.” The subordination of “individualism” was a part of the utopian program. The assertive, middle-class personalities of some staff members had to be restrained to solve the “problem of group control and working class leadership.” Criticism would, in theory, not be a personal attack on an individual. People were encouraged to think of themselves as separate and detached from their immediate past experiences and instantly capable of establishing rational perspective to further an experiment that had to be properly interrogated and improved. “If you are brought into the discussion,” the staff member said, “it will be because a certain thing was done, not because you did a certain thing. In other words, what happened is the important thing, not who did it. All this required a high degree of objectivity and genuine interest in the labor cause.”117 By incorporating “objectivity” to foster the detachment of the personal problems from the problems of the community, Horton implied the two could be disentangled. This was not the case, as problems with the school’s work regime indicated.

Work and Control

Staff struggled to build and sustain their model for society. They wanted to encourage freedom and creativity, and yet they had to balance these ideals against the requirements of work necessary to sustain the commune and school. Highlander’s answer was a rigid work regime (not always so rigidly enforced) and a system of hierarchy with managers responsible for each aspect of the community’s existence. “We started out with classes, work, and leisure, and set up a council for the purpose of government,” read one account of work’s centrality at the school, “The work was included, not because of the educational program, but because it was necessary. The work had to be done, and not wishing nor being able to hire it done, we had to do it ourselves.”118 Contradictions inherent in the concept of the radically egalitarian society plagued work life, as staff attempted to solve the problem of management coercion in a putatively egalitarian society.

Highlander’s staff was conscious of their work-coercion problem, which was exacerbated when Highlander’s community decided that “guards” were needed to protect the school at night. Highlander’s staff faced threats of violence in March 1934 when they argued for trade unions build on solidarity between black and white workers.119 This raised questions of fairness. The three people who raised issue with the work regime did not perform guard duty. There were at least some at the school (guards perhaps) who argued that guarding should provide an exemption from other required work.120 People who did not perform guard duty were upset over the guards’ privilege of sleeping in. “Everyone got to sleeping late because the guards did,” the meeting minutes recounted, “and the work was slacked.” This disintegration of the work standards at Highlander had consequences: “Work was cut down to bare essentials, only the work connected with protection, eating, sleep, and [maintaining] clothes was continued. This guarding and other incidents have given rise to several problems under the general heading of Management of Work.”121 Staff wrestled with the problem of work in an egalitarian society with few mechanisms for or personal inclinations to enforce hierarchical control.

The structure of the work hierarchy at Highlander was a necessary disciplinary mechanism to ensure that the community continued to function as designed and could serve as a school. “Supervisors” or “commissars” oversaw the day-to-day workings of the school, the kitchen, cleaning crew, and management of the school’s grounds.122 The workday began at Highlander’s bulletin board, which listed each worker’s responsibilities for the day and contained the details of each assignment. Highlander’s staff decided, “Everyone is responsible for reading the bulletin board right after breakfast daily.”123 Though the structure and schedule of work at Highlander would change throughout its intentional community period, the imperative remained the same. Work had to be accomplished efficiently and effectively, as time and resources were limited. The winter schedule, for instance, reflected the seasonal imperatives of the school. Winter was a study-heavy time at Highlander. Only four hours a day (and only on days with “good weather”) were set aside for work, which meant physical labor. An additional hour each day was added for staff meetings during the winter. The staff set 10:30 p.m. as “lights out.”124 The community’s activities, then, were planned according to a strict schedule, which included time for non-work activities, though some of this time was allocated for required community recreational activities. There was little room for differences in schedules among community members. The breakfast cook, who had to rise early to prepare the morning meal, was tasked with waking up the entire community at 6:30 a.m.125 The housekeeper, who served as a sort of manager, dismissed the community from breakfast at 7:20. Classes were held between morning work and a community meal at noon. Staff quantified time spent at work and what they had achieved. They came together to make a wall chart that showed the “number of hours worked” and what tasks were performed during those hours of work.126

Despite the regimentation of work, there was resentment over work assignments. The staff was unable to reach a conclusion on the question of requiring all community members to perform “dirty jobs.”127 Highlander’s staff also worried over the mandated hours of work. In addition to teaching, learning, and regular staff duties, community members had to perform other work for two hours each day, which did not include a period of “morning work” set aside for sweeping and other essential household tasks.128 The problem of differing paces and motivations created difficulties for this two-hour regime. Staff debated the problem. Some people, they argued, worked much harder than others in the allotted two-hour period, “while others laugh and talk some of the time.”129

Highlander’s staff had not transcended the difficulties of work; rather, their effort to live intentionally had introduced a whole host of new problems pertaining to the control and character of work in a new society. They approached their communal work arrangements with knowledge of the difficulties associated with such an undertaking. In identifying “general problems,” the staff asked, “Are people adverse to planning at all? Does it interfere too much with their own freedom?” 130 The implications of these questions suggest the serious limitations that staff encountered as they questioned the ambitiousness of their plan. Moving from more philosophical questions to “concrete and specific problems,” the staff outlined the basic disputes that animated work life at Highlander. Some, such as the suggestion that “there be inspection during the work period,” indicate the struggle over questions of oversight and management in an egalitarian intentional community.

The demands of the community necessitated clearly articulated work rules. Experience had taught the socialists at Highlander that without proper oversight, work was partially completed, neglected, or undertaken at a pace not acceptable to all members of the community. A set of rules developed by the Highlander’s members in 1934 reveal the underlying problems that they had encountered. The specificity of the rules indicates the community had had problems with the quality of work, efficiency, and with workers’ lack of motivation. Rules that governed radio use suggest that the community regarded the use of the radio during work and study times to be a barrier to productivity for workers and students. The radio was banned between 8:30 and 11:30 a.m. (when courses met during the winter), 1 and 5:00 p.m. (time reserved for physical labor or study if the weather necessitated indoor activities), and after 7:30 p.m. (“except on special occasions”).131 One of the rules stipulated that “changes in [the] schedule[s] of workers when needed, are to be made through supervisors.”132

The problem of work-shy community members who altered their schedules was a serious concern for a community that considered itself a model for the future socialist society. In theory, people would work because they viewed the community and the work required to maintain it as a vital social duty. Experience dictated labor controls and mechanisms of oversight. The morning dish crew also had to be given specific rules to ensure that essential tasks were no longer neglected: “morning dish crew is to mop the kitchen; noon dish crew is to wash the dirty dish towels.”133 Oversight was also built into the work regime at Highlander. Supervisors were mandated to report to Rupert Hampton, Highlander’s bookkeeper and administrator, with “suggestions and recommendations” to improve work at Highlander.134 Nonroutine work had to be cleared through Hampton.135 His own days were filled with hours of financial work.136

Highlander’s staff debated an appropriate division of labor for their communal project. They were not convinced that any person could do any sort of work. Questions about skill, ability, and efficiency presented a real challenge to Highlander’s egalitarianism. One staff member asked, for instance, “should carpenters mop?”137 The staff was uncertain about how work should be delegated to the community’s members, though, in the end, they decided not to limit jobs based on skill level. There were also questions of stamina and variety. Workers, it was assumed, may not want to or be able to perform the same tasks day after day. Conspicuously absent was a discussion about the gendered division of labor, although their conclusion that anyone could do any work must have been at least a tentative answer. Day-to-day practice, explored in the next chapter, suggests that staff had difficulty reaching this ideal.

Horton’s assessment of the work problem stressed a lack of discipline and planning rather than any sense that staff or students had shirked their tasks.138 “Members of the staff had been asked to blow a whistle ten minutes before class time,” Horton recalled, “so that the students could get cleaned up and ready for 10 o’clock classes.”139 Staff had not done this because they were “so absorbed in the staff meeting.”140 Some students stopped for class while others continued to work or had to change their dirty work clothes before they could start class. Some students told Horton they wanted to keep working because “they had wanted to complete their work before they stopped.”141 Horton pointed out that “all the staff members and students that I have mentioned were genuinely interested in the school.” He blamed the failure on the fact that “a definitive plan was lacking.”142 “Later,” Horton said, “when a plan was made and explained the program ran more smoothly.” Horton’s program, then, called for careful planning and continued enforcement of the plans staff had developed. Horton, however, later admitted that the school’s work regime had problems beyond a lack of effectively planning: “manual labor periods should be definitely planned and an effort made to get reasonable tempo and efficiency.”143 The pace and quality of the work mattered and were more difficult to account for in the school’s plans.

Highlander’s staff made various efforts to address slack work. Rupert Hampton confirmed that lax work was a serious problem: “some sort of effort should be made to secure better work results from school sessions students.”144 An announcement to Highlander’s Allardt branch enjoined “all members of the Soviet will be sure to make their own beds before starting the day’s work, also take as much care of their clothes as possible under the present conditions.”145 Comrades had to constantly be reminded to complete basic tasks necessary for proper housekeeping. There was a clear, yet satirical, call issued to the school’s shirkers in the July 31 work schedule:

Comrades, we are quite sorry for not having awakened you earlier. We are rather fearful lest you become inflamed and fire us as chairman, etc, etc… However, after realizing that it is not fair to you to allow you to sleep so late, that you cannot possibly do the amount of work you desire, we suggest thereby, that you might enter upon a bit of Socialist Competition. Now this is a very gentle hint, and we don’t want you to feel that it is coming from us. On the other hand, think about the matter a great deal and do some planning until you feel fairly certain that you thought the matter up yourselves, for we do not wish to curb your Initiative [emphasis in the original].146

Key staff members were aware of tensions revolving around the school’s fairly rigorously planned daily schedule, but were flexible enough to approach a situation in a way that would gently encourage, through humor, a return to form. Highlander also lacked qualified people to do all the work that needed to be done. Hawes reported, “And who will be our labor foreman while Delmas helps Pa Horton put in the Monteagle garden?” “The answer is,” a frustrated Hawes added, “a student worker with a wife.”147

At Highlander’s Allardt branch, democratic action was a troublesome subject for a school balancing work demands and slim financial resources. The hot organizing issue of the summer of 1934 was coffee. Hot water was in short supply because it had to be heated and hauled from the kitchen. As such, coffee was a precious luxury, requiring significant additional labor, for a thirsty and tired construction crew. The “commissar” at Allardt asked the staff to limit their coffee intake to one brew each day. In response, the community of workers held a vote. The pro-coffee faction won, and coffee was served three times each day. The revolution was percolating. Negotiation was constant, and this contestation made the community less efficient. The coffee example is but one of many instances of small-scale conflict over labor and the provisioning of resources at Highlander during its most communal moment.148

Staff took extensive efforts to resolve problems of scheduling and resources and make the community work—both metaphorically and literally.149 That Highlander never reached work equilibrium demonstrates that its efforts to build an intentional community, its work in the labor movement, and the ambitious plans for expansion were too much to sustain. Staff added clean up time to the schedule, adjusted course length, and revamped the entire schedule.150 Even some of the published schedules were incomplete and did not include time spent tutoring or daily-required chores. Thus, an eight-to-six schedule published with the minutes of a staff meeting in the summer of 1934 does not represent the school’s full schedule, which included morning duties and frequent evening events, which added to the general sense that the community was overburdened.151 When one staff member proposed a four-month session for the winter of 1934–1935, another staff member asked, “will four months be too much of a strain, when we are all so tired out after 6 weeks?”152 The ceaseless plans for expansion added more work. Staff collectively wondered, “are we going to build while school [is] on?” They answered, “possibly[,] possibly we could build a shop at Allardt, and have four hours [of] work daily for students, rain or shine. If we had the shop, on rainy days, the work could be there.”153 Staff eventually concluded that it would undermine the educational mission of Highlander to increase the workload. Students were not prepared for the level of courses taught by Highlander staff, which required additional time with teachers and added to an already burdened schedule.154

As Highlander’s teachers took on multiple duties to keep the community operational, the worry mounted. Rupert Hampton noted the strain placed upon teachers, who had taken on the roles of managers, administrators, manual laborers, and much else: “students [should] relieve teachers from routine work thus giving [teachers] more time for creative work.”155 He wanted “more sabbatical absences on the part of staff members.”156 He acknowledged that “this of course is being done in rather an unscheduled way, and it should be more worked out over a longer period.”157 This was a reference to absences caused by labor strife in the surrounding region, Horton’s absence, and the health requirements of other staff members. These were hardly restful sabbaticals. The flunkey system adopted by Highlander’s staff to organize student labor added managerial duties to the teachers’ workloads. Zilla Hawes reported, “I’ve been meaning to drop you a line for a long time, but it takes so much of my time planning what the flunkeys should (and can) do, and then doing it after them.”158 The staff’s “flunkey” system ensured that minor, essential chores were completed. In theory, this system would have removed some of the day-to-day burden off of staff members. The flunkeys were responsible for a litany of small and large tasks that ranged from maintaining a supply of wood and water to cleaning rooms and washing dishes and clothes.159

Despite efforts at differentiation from an early variant of socialist utopianism, Highlander’s challenges with work make it not entirely distinctive from its communal precursors. American socialists and reformers had a long history of establishing alternative communities in an effort to both provide for people in difficult times and to build a different and more egalitarian system of social relations. Jim Maurer, the Reading socialist, labor leader, state legislator, and eventual vice-presidential candidate for the SP, recalled that during the late 1890s a colony, established by the local labor-exchange movement, had failed because people were less than committed to the agricultural work that the venture entailed. “Most of the colonists managed to arrive late in the fall after all the farm work had been done,” wrote Maurer, “the whole outfit stayed through the winter and ate up everything on the farm, but with the arrival of spring—and work—nine-tenths of the loafers cleared out and that was the end of the colony.”160 Highlander was more fortunate in that it could choose its recruits, yet choice (which was limited in Highlander’s earliest years) did not always forestall conflict and staff wanted a strict screening process to vet potential students because willingness to labor proved a problem for Highlander as well.

Grievances, Standards, and the Outside Community

The effort to model socialism embroiled Highlander’s students and staff in daily struggles to balance individual freedom with communalism, and egalitarianism with more efficient forms of hierarchy. These tensions were evident in the day-to-day operations and relationships within the community, as well as the interactions between Highlander and the surrounding community.

If stress, personal conflicts, and close quarters all exacerbated tensions, the open and democratic nature of Highlander helped to prevent these tensions from being sublimated. While acknowledging the difficulties of their cooperative venture, in 1932 Hawes argued that honesty and openness in socialist communities would allow “cooperative living” to be undertaken successfully.161 Describing the events at Highlander’s Allardt branch in the summer of 1934, Ralph Tefferteller told Dombrowski, “I had Pat with me all day in the quarry, and he was more or less airing his grievances to me concerning the incidents of Sunday last.”162 Tefferteller went on to describe the way in which the community dealt with grievances. “He had brooded over the situation all day, so that by the time we reached the house he was ready to put the matter before the Soviet,” he wrote, adding, “I was able to handle the situation somewhat effectively, I think.” “However,” Tefferteller concluded, “he may have a personal quarrel with you subject to your return. He apologized to the group after a little lecture from the chairman. He put the matter so that one received the impression that he could not very well have been here—being called home for some reason.”163 This openness had its limit. Sex was discussed euphemistically.

The prevailing bohemianism, a feature of Highlander’s particular brand of radical socialism, of 1934’s summer school hurt Highlander’s relationship with the community. Wardrobe choices that were risqué when compared to local culture set Highlander’s staff apart from the community they wished organize. The staff decided that they would have to institute a dress code. “[The] dress situation makes problems worse,” they decided at a staff meeting, “the next time, clothes (more than shorts and bandolas) should be worn for meals and at all times except during work and play.”164 They conceded, “the prevailing summer school fashions in clothes [have] made it difficult for some of the people of the community who are loyal to defend the school. This is unfair to them. Another year, we should plan to have the student body take care of this problem.”165 It was not only students whose dress preferences were too immodest for locals. An image from 1934 shows Highlander’s staff and miners in attendance at the school. Myles Horton is shirtless. Zilla Hawes and two other women are sitting with shoulders and part of their torsos exposed and wearing mid-thigh length bottoms. The image provides a stark contrast. Most of the other men, presumably miners, are in shirts and overalls and the other women visible in the photograph are dressed in much longer dresses and have their shoulders covered.166

Dorothy Thompson was instinctively repulsed by the behavior of her comrades during the early period of Highlander’s intentional community. She never fully elaborated on every aspect of this behavior; however, it included “drinking, the dress situation during the summer school, and other things in this category which students have complained to me about.”167 Thompson may have referred to indiscretions of a sexual nature. Thompson went on to say, “I have heard two different members of the staff, and perhaps others, say, ‘there is no such thing as morality’, and at times I have felt that this was the dominant sentiment of the group.”168 Thompson went on to explain that these staff members might be correct about morality. She stated that she did not care if this were a purely personal question. The problems of community, however, made this personal belief a public concern. She identified the insouciance of these staff members as a major limitation on the school’s success: “there are certain moral standards which are generally accepted, and deviation from these standards—which you may have a perfect right to make personally—often discount all your other ideals of social morality, and ruin everything you have tried to do.”169

Relations with the community were strained, and not helped by the school’s bohemian image and efforts to build a new society. Socialists also had a haughty disposition, assuming that they were correct and that the workers they set out to organize should behave in a specific way. Horton told staff, “avoid all paternalism and action that might be interpreted as a feeling of superiority.”170 Horton cautioned his comrades against saying or writing about members of the local mountain community and Highlander students in a derogatory manner: “In discussing members of the community or students before visitors, or in writing about them, do so in such a way that there could be no possible objection.”171 Horton also wanted the community to have input when staff wrote articles about them: “in case of writing, let the people being written about read the article before it is sent in for publication. This will eliminate misunderstanding and also help to interest people in the school.”172 Horton made no effort to explain how this potential censorship or self-censorship fit into Highlander’s commitment to democracy and emphasis on the individual’s ability to dissent from the larger group. Intentional community coupled with the development of a very public project required contradiction. Students might create problems with the local community, too. Horton thought that students “should be given the benefit of what had been learned at previous sessions in regard to group life. The effect of such things as dressing in a certain way and its effects on the community should be specifically mentioned.”173

Staff and their ability or inability to structure the schedule of the school created disorder, though not everyone saw this as problematic. Keeping the school’s staff focused on important school-related issues proved difficult. Efforts to stay organized and maintain a system of governance broke down when sessions were underway. The school’s staff failed to appointment chairmen for its meetings. “During the last week of school Jim asked who had been acting as chairman of the staff meetings. We answered that there had been no chairman.”174 Without a chairman meetings devolved into discussions that did not necessarily deal with the most pressing matters confronting the staff, though there were hints of resistance to the imposition of hierarchy and procedure. On the bottom of the soviet meeting minutes from Allardt a non-secretary typed, “THERE WAS NO CHAIRMAN, THERE WAS NO SECRETARY, THERE WAS NO ORDER.”175 “Time,” Myles Horton told his colleagues, “should not be used for general discussion but for the discussion of ideas and problems formulated before hand by the one in whose department the subject falls.”176 Horton was further frustrated by staff’s inability to stay to the prescribed daily schedule, “classes should begin and end on time, except when it is necessary to run over for a special purpose.”177 The school needed a whistle, he argued, in order to ensure the smooth administration of the daily schedule. Students and staff had to know when to move to the next activity.178 Apparently, teachers had also changed the schedule of courses without informing all of the school’s students, poor planning indeed.179 Quiet time remains an issue of concern. Horton wanted at least “two hours of absolute quiet when people can rest or study.”180 Staff also believed that school’s rules did not necessarily apply to them. Horton again reminded them that they “should make an effort to abide by the library rules and all other regulations which apply to them. Failure to do so may save time for one, but makes double work on someone else.”181

The staff’s ability to maintain a functioning democratic council was tenuous. By the end of April 1934, there had been no financial report for three weeks. Having convened a “Kangaroo Court,” the school’s students were in revolt.182 The work schedule was breaking down and “the quality of work” was a serious concern. The staff decided to adopt a system based on units of labor rather than hours of labor.183 The lack of a clear hierarchy and the necessity (or the desire) to explain trivial decisions limited productivity, fostered dissent, and contributed to the confusion that generally shaped decision making at Highlander. In one incident, James Dombrowski attempted to justify his decision about whitewashing a chimney by referencing the “dialectical method”: “Near the close of the meal the Skipper [Dombrowski’s nickname] rendered his decision concerning whitewashing the chimney. He tried to explain that he used the dialectical method in reaching this momentous decision, but the result was partial confusion for himself and total confusion for the group.”184 Dombrowski decided not to have the chimney whitewashed, which was met by the not entirely facetious response, “is there going to be any revolt? We encourage all revolts and revolutions.”185

Arguments among staff over the project also created difficulties and led to confusion inside the Highlander community. Horton advised that the staff always make an effort “to clarify its position on all problems relating to our purpose.”186 In a democratic socialist community, an effort to create or impose a central view had to be approached with caution. If the school was to have “consensus of opinion” to clarify the school’s views and mission to both the school’s supporters and the groups it wished to organize, as Horton wanted, it could not force its views on dissenters. The drive for a consensus and its presentation to the public, Horton said, “should not be allowed to force dissenting members of the staff in line.”187 This was perhaps too difficult a position for the staff, though it would certainly have simplified life at Highlander. Policy, Horton argued, had to be separated from the views of Highlander’s individual staff members: “staff members should be allowed to differ from other members of the group and feel free to act accordingly. In important problems this personal difference of opinion should be made clear so that outsiders and supporters will not confuse individual opinion with the general policy of the school.”188 Problems with the staff directly shaped community relations. Horton advocated for the moderation of staff’s behavior and attitudes.


Highlander encountered more difficulty than Soviet House in maintaining its community because Highlander’s primary mission included the operation of a school. Furthermore, rather than serving a specific function for the members of the community, Highlander staff tried to create a model for the new society, which placed a drain on resources and energy. Schools require additional resources. Schools that have vital secondary functions—providing housing for students and staff and, in Highlander’s case, modeling a socialist society for students—face even greater economic burdens. There were few sources of revenue for a school targeting working-class people in an area of high and endemic unemployment. Highlander produced no commodity that could be sold to bring in money to the community. Highlander wanted to be separate and non-reliant on capitalism and markets. Staff members were never able to sustain their community without participation in the system of economic exchange that they repudiated. They had to buy materials for the school and buy goods to sustain the staff. The expenses were continual, a fact exacerbated by the inability of Highlander to pay its staff salaries, which meant that everyone dipped into a central fund for necessary items.

Soviet House in Philadelphia was successful in its effort at communal living because it was centered around an alternative housing arrangement based on socialist principles; each member contributed what they could toward the house’s economic operations. Soviet House provided value to its members, who brought in money from outside employment. It was markedly nonutopian in its design and plans. Its primary function was limited to housing while its secondary function, serving as a hub for labor organizing, developed around its primary function. As long as enough members of the community found outside employment, the experiment worked both for its own members, the SP, the leadership prospects that Norman Thomas sent the community, and ultimately for the labor and social movements that employed or used these young professionals as organizers. Soviet House could serve its multiple and self-reinforcing functions as long as there was enough money to sustain the community and as long as limited demands of Soviet House did not interfere with the community’s organizing activities in the labor movement—an ongoing problem for the cash-strapped Highlander. The Soviet House comrades gained efficiencies by pooling their resources, which helped to meet basic needs. Soviet House could, then, exist amidst an upswing in labor organizing. Highlander was different.

The intensity of commitment required by Highlander’s commune could not be maintained in the face of demanding organizing taking place throughout the South, including Highlander’s efforts to support textile workers in and around Knoxville and Chattanooga.189 The urgency of the struggle in the Southern Highlands dictated that trade union work supersede efforts to build a socialist community on the Cumberland Plateau. Staff members viewed the labor movement as central to their vision of socialism. The urgency of the struggles of working people was a component of the decline of the expansive communal efforts at Highlander after 1935. The contradictions, practical and economic difficulties, and the subtle ideological differences between the community’s members meant that efforts to remake society root and branch would be relatively short-lived as an experiment to create a socialist model of the future society. The coming of that “future society” also seemed less certain as the 1930s unfolded and socialists’ certainty of capitalism’s collapse eroded.


  1. 1.

    Daniel Bell, “The Problem of Ideological Rigidity,” in Failure of a Dream? Essays in the History of American Socialism, ed. John H.M. Laslett and Seymour Martin Lipset (University of California Press, 1984), 6.

  2. 2.

    Cook, A Lifetime of Labor, 79.

  3. 3.

    “Memorial Service for Franz E. Daniel,” 29 September 1976, Box 15, Folder 19, FDC, 9; Cook, A Lifetime of Labor, 76, 79–80.

  4. 4.

    “Memorial Service for Franz E. Daniel,” 29 September 1976, Box 15, Folder 19, FDC, 9.

  5. 5.

    Cook, A Lifetime of Labor, 80.

  6. 6.

    Ibid., 309.

  7. 7.

    Ibid., 310. The Soviet House socialists would end up working for Meany in the AFL-CIO, though resentments never cooled. See Daniel, Rogue River Journal, 116.

  8. 8.

    Cook, A Lifetime of Labor, 312.

  9. 9.

    Ibid., 79.

  10. 10.

    “Memorial Service for Franz E. Daniel,” 29 September 1976, Box 15, Folder 19, FDC.

  11. 11.


  12. 12.


  13. 13.

    “Party Progress,” 12 August 1933, The New Leader, 9; Karen Pastorello, A Power Among Them: Bessie Abramowitz Hillman and the Making of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (University of Illinois Press, 2008), 91–93; and Daniel, Rogue River Journal, 28.

  14. 14.

    Joseph Schlossberg to Whom It May Concern, 1 August 1933, Box 1, Folder 1, PVGP.

  15. 15.

    “Memorial Service for Franz E. Daniel,” 29 September 1976, Box 15, Folder 19, FDC, 10.

  16. 16.

    Cook, A Lifetime of Labor, 78–79, 83, 309, 310.

  17. 17.

    Ibid., 80. Mildred Jefferies went on to play an important part in the UAW and in Michigan politics.

  18. 18.

    Cook, A Lifetime of Labor, 83.

  19. 19.

    Gail Radford, Modern Housing for America: Policy Struggles in the New Deal Era (University of Chicago Press, 2008), 112.

  20. 20.

    Cook, A Lifetime of Labor, 80.

  21. 21.

    Cook, A Lifetime of Labor, 309–310; “Memorial Service for Franz E. Daniel,” 29 September 1976, Box 15, Folder 19, FDC, 10.

  22. 22.

    “Memorial Service for Franz E. Daniel,” 29 September 1976, Box 15, Folder 19, FDC, 9.

  23. 23.

    Galenson, The CIO Challenge to the AFL, 295.

  24. 24.

    “Memorial Service for Franz E. Daniel,” 29 September 1976, Box 15, Folder 19, FDC, 9; Cook, Lifetime of Labor, 81; and David Palmer, Organizing the Shipyards: Union Strategy in Three Northeast Ports, 19331945 (Cornell University Press, 1998), 26.

  25. 25.

    “North Phila. Socialists in the Labor Movement,” The Kensington Socialist, 28 March 1934, Box 6, Folder 21, PVGC.

  26. 26.

    Philip Van Gelder, “Ship Yards Picketed by Land and Sea as Strikers Hold Ranks in Camden,” New Leader, 7 April 1934, 1-L, 4-L.

  27. 27.

    Cook, A Lifetime of Labor, 80.

  28. 28.

    “Workers’ NRA Faith Shattered After Three-Day Strike in Phila.,” New Leader, 30 December 1933, 1, 6.

  29. 29.

    Ibid., 1. The New Deal had, however, played a decisive role in helping Industrial Union of Marine and Shipbuilding Workers of America win employer recognition. The increasing role that the New Deal state played in labor relations may explain why laborites in the RPC were so quick (in the span of a few years) to convert to Roosevelt’s Democratic Party.

  30. 30.

    “Socialist-Led Strike Won in Philadelphia,” The New Leader, 23 December 1933, 3; “Paul Porter Appointed Party Labor Secretary,” The New Leader, 29 September 1934, 4.

  31. 31.

    “Paul Porter Appointed Party Labor Secretary,” The New Leader, 29 September 1934, 4.

  32. 32.

    “Party Progress,” The New Leader, 12 August 1933, 9; Filippelli and McColloch, Cold War in the Working Class, 18; and Cook, Lifetime of Labor, 83.

  33. 33.

    Irving Bernstein, The Turbulent Years: A History of the American Worker, 19331941 (Haymarket Books, 2010), 102–103.

  34. 34.

    James Carey, a Philco worker who helped to lead the 1933 strike and eventual UE and CIO leader, would later come to Paul Porter’s defense when Porter was attacked at part of the Second Red Scare. See Storrs, The Second Red Scare, 142. Carey attacked Highlander as pro-Communist in the early 1940s.

  35. 35.

    “Party Progress,” The New Leader, 12 August 1933, 9.

  36. 36.


  37. 37.

    Arlene Kaplan Daniels, introduction to A Lifetime of Labor, viii.

  38. 38.

    Cook, Lifetime of Labor, 73, 157–158, 191.

  39. 39.

    Storrs, The Second Red, 149. Cook’s memoir was not published until the 1990s and she apparently escaped anti-progressive investigations that did not spare her former comrades. Cook, therefore, was not constrained by the Cold War’s pernicious domestic reaction or by the personal traumas of having lived through an investigation. Her Soviet House comrade Paul Porter was not so lucky. Porter became a leading administrator of American aid to Europe, whose career as a government official was undermined by partisan maneuvering and unsubstantiated ad hominem attacks that resulted in his resignation from the Mutual Security Agency. See Storrs, The Second Red, 141–143; Adam Bernstein, “Paul R. Porter, 94; Economist, Consultant,” The Washington Post, 26 April 2002.

  40. 40.

    “The Daily Record,” 13 August 1934, Box 2, Folder 4, HREC.

  41. 41.


  42. 42.

    “Minutes of Staff Conference,” 29–31 July 1934, Box 2, Folder 4, HREC; Ralph Tefferteller to James Dombrowski, [1934], Box 15, Folder 31, HREC.

  43. 43.

    Glen’s No Ordinary School remains the most authoritative and exhaustive account of Highlander’s history, though Frank Adams’s biography of James Dombrowski and James Lorence’s biography of Don West are indispensable contributions that add much complexity to presentations of Highlander’s history.

  44. 44.

    Glen, No Ordinary School, 44.

  45. 45.

    James Dombrowski to Rupert Hampton, 13 March 1934, Box 15, Folder 31, HREC; “Public Speaking,” 26 May 1933, Box 31, Folder 8, HREC.

  46. 46.

    Horton, The Long Haul, 63; James Lorence, A Hard Journey, 35.

  47. 47.

    Horton, The Long Haul, 66.

  48. 48.

    Michael E. Price, “The New Deal in Tennessee: The Highlander Folk School and Worker Response in Grundy County,” Tennessee Historical Quarterly 43 (1984), 100.

  49. 49.

    Ibid., 102.

  50. 50.


  51. 51.

    Ibid., 101.

  52. 52.

    Horton, The Long Haul, 73.

  53. 53.

    Ibid., 69.

  54. 54.

    Zilla Hawes to Myles Horton, 27 September 1931, Box 15, Folder 30, HREC.

  55. 55.

    Lorence, A Hard Journey, 34.

  56. 56.

    “The Highlander Folk School,” New Leader, 8 April 1933, 11.

  57. 57.


  58. 58.

    Dorothy Thompson to Rupert Hampton, 17 April 1934, Box 15, Folder 31, HREC.

  59. 59.

    Rupert Hampton to James Dombrowski, [March 1934], Box 15, Folder 31, HREC.

  60. 60.

    Lorence, A Hard Journey, 26; Don West, “Factory Child”, New Leader, 4 March 1933, 9; and Don West, “Highlander Folk School Appreciates New Leader,” New Leader, 4 March 1933, 13.

  61. 61.

    S.A. DeWitt, “A Poem Out of the Deep Misery of The Blue Ridge Mountains; and an Open Letter to Upton Sinclair,” New Leader, 4 March 1933, 9.

  62. 62.

    “Socialist Summer Schools,” New Leader, 22 April 1933, 11.

  63. 63.

    “Then and Now,” Nit Wit: Live and Learn, [1933], Box 85, Folder 2, HREC.

  64. 64.

    Nit Wit, Vol. 1, No. 4, [1933], Box 85, Folder 2, HREC.

  65. 65.


  66. 66.


  67. 67.


  68. 68.

    James Dombrowski to Norman Thomas, 7 March 1934, Box 27, Folder 24, HREC.

  69. 69.


  70. 70.

    Andrew J. Biemiller to James Dombrowski, 27 March 1934, Box 31, Folder 8, HREC.

  71. 71.

    “Soviet Meeting: Allardt Staff,” 2 April 1934, Box 31, Folder 8, HREC.

  72. 72.

    “Anna Caples to James Dombrowski,” 1 June 1934, Box 31, Folder 8, HREC.

  73. 73.

    James Dombrowski to Norman Thomas, 7 March 1934, Box 27, Folder 24, HREC; Norman Thomas to James Dombrowski, 15 March 1934, Box 27, Folder 24, HREC.

  74. 74.

    Norman Thomas to Myles Horton, 19 September 1933, Box 27, Folder 21, HREC.

  75. 75.

    Myles Horton to Norman Thomas, 24 April 1933, Box 27, Folder 24, HREC; Norman Thomas to Myles Horton, 19 September 1933, Box 27, Folder 21, HREC.

  76. 76.

    John Thompson to Norman Thomas, 23 February 1933, Box 27, Folder 24, HREC.

  77. 77.

    Norman Thomas to James Dombrowski, 15 March 1934, Box 27, Folder 24, HREC.

  78. 78.

    “Special to the Daily Record,” 29 August 1934, Box 31, Folder 8, HREC; Ralph Tefferteller to James Dombrowski, [1934], Box 15, Folder 31, HREC, 2; and Zilla Hawes to Old Hussey, 24 January 1934, Box 15, Folder 31, HREC.

  79. 79.

    “Greetings, Comrade,” 7 September 1934, Box 31, Folder 8, HREC.

  80. 80.

    “The Daily Record,” 19 August 1934, Box 31, Folder 8, HREC.

  81. 81.

    James Dombrowski to Al Lovejoy, 20 August 1934, Box 31, Folder 8, HREC.

  82. 82.

    “Daily Record,” 10 September 1934, Box 31, Folder 8, HREC.

  83. 83.

    “Daily Record,” 10 September 1934, Box 31, Folder 8, HREC; “Daily Record,” 11 September 1934, Box 31, Folder 8, HREC.

  84. 84.

    Raymond Gregory, Norman Thomas: The Great Dissenter (Algora, 2008), 134–135.

  85. 85.

    Zilla Hawes to Old Madame, 13 February 1934, Box 15, Folder 31, HREC.

  86. 86.

    David Clay Large, Between Two Fires: Europe’s Path in the 1930s (New York: W. W. Norton, 1991), 87.

  87. 87.

    James Oneal, “Austrian Rising Greatest Labor Epic Since Days of the Paris Commune,” The New Leader, 24 February 1934, 5.

  88. 88.

    “Green Flays Butchery in Austria,” 24 February 1934, The New Leader, 3.

  89. 89.

    Zilla Hawes to Myles Horton, 20 November 1932, Box 15, Folder 30, HREC.

  90. 90.

    State Executive Committee of Socialist Party of Tennessee to the President of the United States, 28 October 1933, Box 68, Folder 15, HREC.

  91. 91.

    J.K.S. Stockton to Myles Horton, 1 July 1934, Box 27, Folder 3, HREC.

  92. 92.

    “Party Notes,” New Leader, 18 November 1933, 7; “Begin Socialist Drive in the South,” New Leader, 25 November 1933, 6.

  93. 93.

    James Dombrowski to Al and Dot, 18 March 1934, Box 31, Folder 8, HREC; “Begin Socialist Drive in the South,” New Leader, 25 November 1933, 6.

  94. 94.

    Joe Kelly Stockton, “Fentress County Cooperative,” [1933], Box 31, Folder 8, HREC.

  95. 95.

    J.K. Stockton to Myles Horton, 22 March 1933, Box 27, Folder 3, HREC; K.B. Stockton and J.K. Stockton to Myles Horton, 8 April 1934, Box 27, Folder 3, HREC.

  96. 96.

    See Price, “The New Deal in Tennessee,” 99–120; H. Glyn Thomas, “Highlander Folk School: The Depression Years,” Tennessee Historical Quarterly, 23 (1964), 358–371.

  97. 97.

    Most of Tennessee’s committed socialist activists had come to Tennessee from other areas and were involved with the labor or another social cause. The paucity of organizers outside of a few major centers of support meant that little time could be dedicated to the rebuilding of the party’s apparatus in states where it had been decimated by anti-socialism and then by a decade of neglect. There was simply too much work and too few people to do it.

  98. 98.

    Grubbs, Cry from the Cotton, 75–76.

  99. 99.

    Accounts of Graham’s death are remarkably consistent with only a few minor variations. He was undoubtedly targeted by Fentress Coal because he was the indefatigable leader of the strike, and his murder was meant as a message to the other miners out on strike; “The Ballad of Barney Graham,” Southern Exposure, 5, no. 1 (1976).

  100. 100.

    Frank Adams, Unearthing Seeds of Fire: The Idea of Highlander (John F. Blair, 1975), 191.

  101. 101.

    Norman Thomas to Myles Horton, 7 February 1933, Box 27, Folder 24, HREC; Myles Horton to Norman Thomas, 20 February 1933, Box 27, Folder 24, HREC; and John Thompson to Norman Thomas, 23 February 1933, Box 27, Folder 24, HREC.

  102. 102.

    Lorence, A Hard Journey, 32–33.

  103. 103.

    Ruth Shallcross to James Dombrowski, 14 February 1934, Box 68, Folder 15, HREC. This parting of the ways mirrored the larger split in the socialist movement between the party’s gradualist, social-democratic elements and the militants who employed revolutionary rhetoric.

  104. 104.

    Zilla Hawes to Myles Horton, [Winter 1933–1934], Box 15, Folder 30, HREC.

  105. 105.

    Kirby Page, “Property: A Consideration of the Tactics of Violence and Dictatorship Raised by Communists Throughout the World,” New Leader, 24 August 1935, 5.

  106. 106.

    Revolutionary Policy Committee, “Tendencies within the Socialist Party: An Outline,” 22 May 1934, Box 6, Folder 21, PVGP. The document named Page as the representative of “reformism.”

  107. 107.

    Page, “Property: A Consideration of the Tactics of Violence and Dictatorship Raised by Communists Throughout the World,” 5.

  108. 108.

    Mark Pittenger, American Socialists and Evolutionary Thought, 18701920 (University of Wisconsin Press, 1993), 159.

  109. 109.

    James Maurer, It Can Be Done: The Autobiography of James Hudson Maurer (The Rank School Press, 1938), 305.

  110. 110.

    Ibid., 305.

  111. 111.

    Zilla Hawes, “Recommendations,” September 1934, Box 2, Folder 4, HREC.

  112. 112.

    Highlander Staff, “Rules,” 1934. Box 2, Folder 4, HREC.

  113. 113.

    Albert S. Lindemann, A History of European Socialism (Yale University Press, 1984), 356.

  114. 114.

    David Childs, The Two Red Flags: European Social Democracy and Soviet Communism Since 1945 (Routledge, 2000), 2. Workers’ councils had a life well beyond the emergent Soviet Union. See Loew, “The Politics of Austro-Marxism,” 32–35.

  115. 115.

    “Work Schedule,” 12 July 1934, Box 31, Folder 8, HREC.

  116. 116.

    “School’s New Site,” Highlander Fling, September 1934, Box 84, Folder 7, HREC.

  117. 117.

    “Minutes,” 16 July 1934, Box 2, Folder 4, HREC.

  118. 118.


  119. 119.

    Glen, Highlander, 30.

  120. 120.

    “Minutes,” 16 July 1934, Box 2, Folder 4, HREC.

  121. 121.


  122. 122.

    “Rules,” [1934] Box 2, Folder 4, HREC; “Minutes—Soviet Meeting,” 1 January 1934, Box 2, Folder 4, HREC.

  123. 123.

    “Rules,” [1934], Box 2, Folder 4, HREC.

  124. 124.

    “Minutes—Soviet Meeting,” 1 January 1934, Box 2, Folder 4, HREC.

  125. 125.

    “Rules,” [1934], Box 2, Folder 4, HREC.

  126. 126.

    “Minutes: Meeting of the Soviet,” 20 January 1934, Box 2, Folder 4, HREC.

  127. 127.

    “Minutes of Staff Conference,” 29–31 July 1934, Box 2, Folder 4, HREC.

  128. 128.


  129. 129.

    “Minutes,” 16 July 1934, Box 2, Folder 4, HREC.

  130. 130.


  131. 131.

    “Minutes—Soviet Meeting,” 1 January 1934, Box 2, Folder 4, HREC.

  132. 132.

    “Rules,” [1934], Box 2, Folder 4, HREC.

  133. 133.


  134. 134.


  135. 135.


  136. 136.

    “Staff Meeting,” 9 January 1934, Box 2, Folder 4, HREC.

  137. 137.


  138. 138.

    Myles Horton, “Myles Horton’s Criticism,” [Summer 1934], Box 2, Folder 4, HREC.

  139. 139.


  140. 140.


  141. 141.


  142. 142.


  143. 143.


  144. 144.

    Rupert Hampton, “Criticisms,” [Summer 1934], Box 2, Folder 4, HREC.

  145. 145.

    Highlander Folk School: Allardt Division, Household Department, “Report to Secretary,” 13 January 1934, Box 2, Folder 4, HREC.

  146. 146.

    “Work Schedule,” 31 July 1934, Box 2, Folder 4, HREC.

  147. 147.

    Zilla Hawes to Old Madame, 13 February 1934, Box 15, Folder 31, HREC.

  148. 148.

    “Work Schedule,” 19 July 1934, Box 31, Folder 8, HREC; “Work Schedule,” 20 July 1934, Box 31, Folder 8, HREC; “Work Schedule,” 24 July 1934, Box 31, Folder 8, HREC; and “Work Schedule,” 25 July 1934, Box 31, Folder 8, HREC.

  149. 149.

    “Minutes of Staff Conference,” 29–31 July 1934, Box 2, Folder 4, HREC.

  150. 150.


  151. 151.


  152. 152.


  153. 153.


  154. 154.


  155. 155.

    “The Daily Record,” 13 August 1934, Box 2, Folder 4, HREC.

  156. 156.

    Rupert Hampton, “Criticisms,” [Summer 1934], Box 2, Folder 4, HREC.

  157. 157.


  158. 158.

    Zilla Hawes to Old Hussey, 24 January 1934, Box 15, Folder 31, HREC.

  159. 159.

    Highlander Folk School: Allardt Division, Household Department, “Report to Secretary,” 13 January 1934, Box 2, Folder 4, HREC.

  160. 160.

    Maurer, It Can Be Done, 114–115.

  161. 161.

    Zilla Hawes to Myles Horton, 20 November 1932, Box 15, Folder 30, HREC.

  162. 162.

    Ralph Tefferteller to James Dombrowski, [1934], Box 15, Folder 31, HREC.

  163. 163.


  164. 164.

    “Minutes of Staff Conference,” 29–31 July 1934, Box 2, Folder 4, HREC.

  165. 165.


  166. 166.

    “Workshop for Coal Miners from Wilder,” [1934], PH 4260, Box 2, Folder 69, HREC.

  167. 167.

    Dorothy Thompson, “Criticism of Highlander Folk School,” September 1934, Box 2, Folder 4, HREC.

  168. 168.


  169. 169.


  170. 170.

    Myles Horton, “Myles Horton’s Criticism,” [1934], Box 2, Folder 4, HREC.

  171. 171.


  172. 172.


  173. 173.


  174. 174.

    Horton, “Myles Horton’s Criticism,” [1934], Box 2, Folder 4, HREC.

  175. 175.

    “Soviet Meeting,” 2 April 1934, Box 31, Folder 8, HREC, 2.

  176. 176.

    Horton, “Myles Horton’s Criticism,” [1934], Box 2, Folder 4, HREC.

  177. 177.


  178. 178.


  179. 179.


  180. 180.


  181. 181.


  182. 182.

    “Minutes of Meeting,” 22 April 1934, Box 2, Folder 4, HREC.

  183. 183.


  184. 184.

    “The Daily Reminder,” 8 August 1934, Box 2, Folder 4, HREC.

  185. 185.


  186. 186.

    Horton, “Myles Horton’s Criticism,” [1934], Box 2, Folder 4, HREC.

  187. 187.


  188. 188.


  189. 189.

    Glen, Highlander, 29, 31, 34.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jake Altman
    • 1
  1. 1.SalineUSA

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