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Victor Jeremy Jerome papers

Call Number: MS 589

Scope and Contents

The Correspondence series is divided into two sections, general and prison correspondence. The first section includes correspondence with Herbert Aptheker, Ella Reeve Bloor, Olive T. Dargan,W. E. B. Du Bois, Howard Fast, Rockwell Kent, Alfred Kreymborg, Robert Morss Lovett, Walter Lowenfels, Archibald MacLeish, Abe Magil, Albert Maltz and Joseph North. Jerome also carried on an extensive correspondence with John Howard Lawson, Holland Roberts and Eliot White. Although Victor Jerome probably destroyed some of his correspondence with Communists when the Smith Act Trials began, much remains. His letters to the Communist Party National Committee bewteen 1952 and 1954 reveal some of his impressions of the trials, contain his resignation from the editorship ofPolitical Affairs, and his views on the Party and the church, and self-determination for American blacks. The folder of correspondence with William Z. Foster contains Jerome's 1950 report to the national committee and a long letter from Jerome in which he comments on inner-party tensions. Also important are the folders of Dashiell Hammett (which includes material from the Committee to Defend V. J. Jerome) and Paul Robeson (which contains a copy of Robeson's 1952 speech in defense of Victor Jerome).

Correspondence with Jerome's third wife, Alice Jerome, and their two sons, Fred and Carl, is grouped in a single folder at the end of this section. Because Alice Jerome's correspondence was written primarily on behalf of Victor Jerome, it is interfiled with the general correspondence. Correspondence with Jerome's first wife, Frances Winwar, and with their son, Francis Warwin, is filed separately under their names. There is no correspondence with Rose Pastor Stokes.

The second section of Correspondence consists of Jerome's prison correspondence. While the period of his imprisonment (1951-1957) is covered in the general section, prison correspondence contains only letters written to or from Victor Jerome while serving his sentence. Because his correspondence was restricted -- both in correspondents and content -- the prison material deals primarily with Jerome's writings and family matters. His April 1956 letters however do reveal an American Communist's rationalization of Soviet persecution of Russian Jews: "Not socialism, but crimes against its principles made possible, in a worker's state, those crimes against human and cultural sanction."

Research Materials and Writings includes Jerome's nonfiction and fiction writings and his research materials. The nonfiction writings consists of his newspaper articles; his newspaper column "Questions from the People"; drafts, copies and reviews of his political and cultural essays. There are also short stories, poems, plays and novels. Drafts, copies of the text, and reviews of the poem "Caliban Speaks", which Jerome wrote in court during the Smith Act Trials are included. In addition, there are research materials, drafts, texts and reviews ofA Lantern for Jeremy,The Paper Bridge, andUnstill Waters. The final item in the series is Jerome's unfinished novel on Spinoza.

The Personal and Financial series includes biographical material, obituaries and eulogies, and memorabilia for Victor Jerome. The series also contains a copy of the incomplete first draft of RosePastor Stoke's autobiography,I Belong to the Working Class.


  • 1923-1967


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 John M. Whitcomb, 1971; Jerry Warwin, 2002.


Arranged in three series and one addition: I. Correspondence, 1923-1967. II. Research Materials and Writings, 1927-1965. III. Personal and Financial Papers, 1932-1955, n.d.


16.25 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


Correspondence, writings, research notes, biographical material, obituaries and eulogies, and other personal and family papers of Victor J. Jerome, American communist, writer, editor of Political Affairs, and political activist. The bulk of the papers relate primarily to Jerome's activities with the American Communist Party during the period from 1930 to 1965. Of special interest is correspondence relating to Jerome's trial and conviction for violation of the Smith Act (1952); correspondence with Dashiell Hammett relating to "The Committee to Defend V. J. Jerome" (1952); prison correspondence (1953-1957); and correspondence with notable American communists relating to the organization of the Communist Party in the United States. Also of importance are printed and manuscript copies of Jerome's writings, including his two autobiographical novels A Lantern For Jeremy and The Paper Bridge, as well as his numerous newspaper and periodical contributions. Important correspondents include Herbert Aptheker, Ella Reeve Bloor, W. E. B. DuBois, Howard Fast, Rockwell Kent, Alfred Kreymborg, Archibald MacLeish, Dashiell Hammett, and Paul Robeson.

Biographical / Historical

Victor Jeremy Jerome, writer, editor, and chairman of the Communist Party's Cultural Commission, was born Jerome Isaac Romain in Strykov, Poland, in 1896. Shortly after his birth, his parents migrated to England, leaving Jerome with relatives in Poland. At the age of nine, he joined his parents in England where he spent the next ten years. In 1915 he came to New York, where he worked at odd jobs and started school at City College. He left school when he married Frances Winwar, who bore him one child before their marriage ended in divorce.

His involvement with radical politics began in the early 1920s when Jerome accepted a position as a bookkeeper with the International Ladies Garment Workers Union. Possibly because of his involvement with left-wing politics, he changed his name in 1923. In 1924 he joined the Communist Party and in the following year married Rose Pastor Stokes. He returned to college and in 1930 received a Bachelor of Science degree from New York University. After Rose Pastor Stoke's death in 1933, Jerome spent a year in Hollywood raising money for the Spanish Loyalists. He returned to New York and in 1935 he became editor of The Communist (which later became Political Affairs and held that position until 1955. He had risen in the Party hierarchy and in the mid-1930s was appointed cultural commissioner of the Communist Party. In 1937 he married Alice Hamburger.

Between 1935 and 1965 Jerome wrote constantly. He wrote two autobiographical novels --- A Lantern for Jeremy (released during the "Foley Square Trials" in 1952) and its sequel, The Paper Bridge (published posthumously in 1966). He also published a collection of vignettes entitled Unstill Waters (1964). A prolific writer, he turned out short stories, plays, and literary and art criticisms. Victor Jerome is best known, however, for his political and cultural essays. Among these are "The Intellectuals and the War" (1940), "The Negro in Hollywood Films" (1950), and "Culture in a Changing World" (1948).

A 1952 pamphlet – "Grasp the Weapon of Culture" – which Jerome presented as a report to the Communist Party, became the "overt act" under which Victor Jerome was prosecuted and convicted under the Smith Act. Indicted with sixteen other Communist leaders in 1951, he was accused of "conspiracy to teach and advocate the overthrow by force and violence" of the U.S. Government. Following a nine month trial in New York's Foley Square courthouse – Jerome passed the long hours in court writing poetry and reading page proofs ofA Lantern for Jeremy– Jerome was convicted and in 1953 sentenced to three years at Lewisburg Penitentiary. He served the sentence between 1954 and 1957.

Following his release from prison, Jerome toured Eastern Europe. He spent 1958 in Poland, and for the next two years worked in Moscow as an editor of a collection of Lenin's works. He returned to the United States in 1962 to continue work he had begun on a novel based on the life of Spinoza.

He died in 1965 at the age of 68.

Guide to the Victor Jeremy Jerome Papers
Under Revision
compiled by Barbara Riley
December 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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