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Charles Humboldt papers

Call Number: MS 721

Scope and Contents

Charles Humboldt (1910-1964) was a left-wing editor, poet and critic of art and literature. His true name was not Charles Humboldt but Clarence Weinstock, and Clarence Weinstock is the name under which he published articles in the 1930s, served in the United States Army in the 1940s, and paid taxes until his death in 1964. Charles Humboldt is the name under which he wrote between the late 1930s and the 1960s and under which he gained his reputation as an editor, critic and poet. Between 1935 and 1964 he was one of the editors, successively, of Art Front, the New Masses, Masses and Mainstream, and the National Guardian.

The first series of Humboldt's papers consists of his correspondence for the period 1946-1963. In his capacity as an editor and critic, Humboldt corresponded with many left-wing writers. Included among them are: Alvaro Cardona-Hine, Ralph Ellison, Lillian Hellman, Renaud de Jouvenel, Walter Lowenfels, Scott Nearing, Sean O'Casey and Linus Pauling. Humboldt also carried on an extensive correspondence with Edith Anderson, Jack Beeching, Alvah Bessie, Maxim Lieber, Albert Maltz, Tom McGrath, and Philip Stevenson. Much of the correspondence -- particularly that with Lee Baxandall, John Berger, J. D. Bernal, A. Beison, Louis Burnham, Emile Burns and Annette Rubenstein -- deals with the policies, finances and problems of left-wing journals. There is also important correspondence with the Soviet periodicals Foreign Literature, Soviet Culture and Soviet Literature.

Although in the CORRESPONDENCE series no distinction has been made between letters written by or to Charles Humboldt and Clarence Weinstock, in the WRITINGS AND RESEARCH MATERIALS series his writings under the two names are separately arranged. The Writings includes not only stories, reviews, poetry and dramas by Charles Humboldt and Clarence Weinstock, but also a large number by other left-wing authors and poets. Also in the WRITINGS AND RESEARCH MATERIALS series is a long unpublished article by Charles Humboldt on the new critics and an unfinished manuscript by Clarence Weinstock on the Mexican muralists. The PERSONAL AND FINANCIAL series, also divided into separate sections for the names Charles Humboldt and Clarence Weinstock, contains biographical material and memorabilia.

Mrs Miriam Humboldt Schwartz, widow of Charles Humboldt, with her husband Louis B. Schwartz donated these papers to Yale University in 1972.


  • 1935-1963


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for 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 Mr. and Mrs. Louis B. Schwartz, 1972.


Arranged in three series: I. Correspondence. II. Writings and Research. III. Personal and Financial.


4 Linear Feet (9 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


Correspondence, writings, research materials, and other papers of Charles Humboldt (also known as Clarence Weinstock), left-wing editor, poet and critic. Humboldt was variously connected with Art Front, New Masses, Masses and Mainstream, and the National Guardian, and much of the correspondence deals with the policies, finances, and problems of left-wing journals. Correspondents include Alvah Bessie, Ralph Ellison, Lillian Hellman, Kenneth Tynan, Christina Stead, Scott Nearing, and Linus Pauling.

Biographical / Historical

Charles Humboldt (whose real name was Clarence Weinstock) was born in 1910 and raised in New York City. In 1925, at the age of fifteen, he left high school and travelled around the United States. Later that same year he went to Paris to study painting and there decided that his major interest was in the field of art criticism.

Humboldt returned from Europe in 1934 and became assistant editor of New Masses, and eventually editor of the artists' union bulletin published by the WPA federal art project group. During the late Thirties he was associate and then managing editor of Art Front, an art magazine written and published by artists. Contributors to this monthly publication included Picasso, Leger, Lurcat, Max Weber, Stuart Davis, Ben Shahn, Raphael and Moses Soyer, Jack Levine, Philip Evergood and Arshile Gorky.

During World War II, Charles Humboldt served in the U.S. Army on the Italian front. He began as a cryptographer but was transferred to Information and Education where he prepared bulletins and booklets on the progress of the war and on postwar perspectives.

After the war ended, Humboldt returned to the United States and from 1946 to 1947 was assistant public relations director for the Palestine Foundation Fund. He also became editor of the cultural quarterly Mainstream, which in 1947 merged with the New Masses and became known as Masses and Mainstream. In 1948 he joined Citadel Press as an editor and publicist, a position he held until 1952.

During a trip to Mexico in 1952-1953, Humboldt met the prominent mural painters Rivera, Siqueiros and Leopoldo Mendez. Influenced by his friendship with these artists, he began to work on an iconography of Mexican mural painting but ill health forced him to abandon the project.

Returning to New York, Humboldt became editor of Translations, a bureau serving leading publishers, corporations, and scientific institutions with translations of scientific and technical subjects, as well as literature and fine arts. In 1956 he turned to free lance writing, mainly in the medical field. Humboldt wrote for Scope Weekly and for the pharmaceutical firms of Smith, Kline and French and Purdue Frederick.

Since the end of World War II, Humboldt had edited - at times single-handedly - the left-wing magazine Masses and Mainstream. In 1960 he left this quarterly and became book editor of the National Guardian, a position he held until his death on January 23, 1964.

Guide to the Charles Humboldt Papers
Under Revision
compiled by Barbara M. Riley
July 1974
Description rules
Finding Aid Created In Accordance With Manuscripts And Archives Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

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