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Gus Hall Papers

 Collection
Call Number: MS 2113

Content Description

The Gus Hall Papers contain the professional papers of Gus Hall throughout his time as secretary-general and president of the Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA), as well as his personal correspondence to his family during his time in jail.

This collection includes Hall's correspondence from jail during the years 1950 to 1957, when he was incarcerated for violating the Smith Act. This correspondence contains both Hall's original handwritten manuscript correspondence, as well as later transcribed typescript copies. This correspondence does not contain any material relating to the Communist Party of the United States, as Hall was only permitted to send letters of a personal nature during his incaceration. As a result, these letters are to his wife, Elizabeth Hall, and their two children, Barbara and Arvo.

The Communist Party of the United States series includes pamphlets, correspondence, administrative documents, memoranda, promotional material, reports, and photographs. These professional papers primarily document the administration and organization of the Communist Party of the United States between 1950 and 2000. The pamphlets are entirely relating to Communism, union organizing, or left-wing activities. These pamplets are primarily in English, but some are in Russian or Spanish.

The Travel series primarily documents travel by Hall to Communist countries, primarily the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), but also Vietnam, China, Mongolia and Cuba. The travel material includes photographs of Hall with high-ranking Soviet party members, including Leonid Brezhnev and Mikhail Gorbechov. This travel is also documented with itineraries, invitations to prominent events, and awards given to Hall. The papers also contain medals, pins, and buttons that range from campaign buttons to medals of honor presented to Hall by various Communist governments.

Dates

  • 1906-2010

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright is retained by the donor of this collection and her heirs for materials authored or otherwise produced by Gus Hall until January 1, 2040. After that date, copyright passes to Yale University. Copyright status for other collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Barbara Conway, 2019 and 2021.

Arrangement

The Gus Hall Papers are arranged in three series: I. Communist Party of the United States, 1900-2000. II. Jailtime Correspondence, 1951-1957. III. Travel, 1912-1996.

Extent

18 Linear Feet (38 boxes)

Language of Materials

English

Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL

https://hdl.handle.net/10079/fa/mssa.ms.2113

Overview

Gus Hall (1910-2000) was an activist, politician, and prominent member of the Communist Party of the United States, and was one of the people arrested in the 1949-1958 Smith Act trials of Communist Party leaders. The Gus Hall Papers contain the professional papers of Hall throughout his time as secretary-general and president of the Communist Party of the United States of America as well as his personal correspondence to his family during his time in jail.

Biographical / Historical

Gus Hall (1910-2000) was an activist, politician, prominent member of the Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA), and one of the people arrested in the 1949-1958 Smith Act trials of Communist Party leaders. Hall was born Arvo Kusta Halberg in Minnesota. His parents were Finnish immigrants and active members of the CPUSA. Hall dropped out of school in the eighth grade to help his father support his family by working in lumber camps and decided to join the CPUSA during this time, citing his labor as a lumber worker as the reason. He was officially recruited by his father to join the CPUSA in 1927.

Hall traveled to the Soviet Union for the first time in 1931 because lumberjacks were in demand in the Ukranian Soviet Socialist Republic, within the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). From 1931 to 1933 he studied at the V.I. Lenin Institute in Moscow. His time in the USSR cemented Hall's relationship with the USSR government. Upon his return to the United States, he worked as a Communist and Unionist. He changed his name from Arvo Kusta Halberg to Gus Hall in 1935.

During World War II, Hall served in the United States Navy in Guam before returning to the United States mainland. In the postwar period, Hall's activity in the CPUSA increased, and he became a member of the CPUSA National Board. Hall's activity as a board member made him a target of the United States government and led to his being arrested and charged with treason, along with other prominent party members. In 1949, Hall was convicted under the Smith Act of conspiring to overthrow the United States government. Hall was sentenced to five years in prison, along with eleven other members of the CPUSA. Hall fled to Mexico and when captured was sentenced to an additional time in prison. He was released from prison in 1957.

Upon his release, Hall returned to his work in the CPUSA. He traveled extensively between the United States and the Soviet Union, as well as other Communist countries. He ran for president of the United States of America four times as a third party candidate, in 1972, 1976, 1980 and 1984.

Hall continued to work for the CPUSA after his unsuccessful bids for the United States presidency. He worked to promote the CPUSA as president of the party, and later, as the party's secretary general. He continued his work until his death in 2000.
Title
Guide to the Gus Hall Papers
Status
Completed
Author
compiled by Camila Zorrilla Tessler
Date
July 2021
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

Contact:
Yale University Library
P.O. Box 208240
New Haven CT 06520-8240 US
(203) 432-1735
(203) 432-7441 (Fax)

Location

Sterling Memorial Library
Room 147
120 High Street
New Haven, CT 06511

Opening Hours